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The Forum of the Standing Committee on Finance (SCF), is the latest platform where Seychelles showcased its debt-for-nature swap for ocean conservation, a first of its kind in the world. The virtual presentation was made by Patrick Payet, the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Trade during the first part of the “Finance for Nature-based Solutions” Forum, which took place on Friday 15th October.

The Forum provides a platform for a wide range of climate finance stakeholders, including governments, climate funds, financial institutions, civil society, think tanks, and the private sector, to exchange information and promote linkages and coherence in the mobilization and delivery of climate finance.

SS Payet’s presentation was made during the Keynote presentations on emerging trends and issues on nature-based solutions segment where he provided insight to the audience on how Seychelles implemented the debt for nature swap in 2018. He explained to the audience the struggle which the high income per capita small island state faced in securing favorable lending conditions and had to turn to innovative ways to finance some of its capital investment. The debt swap takes a different approach to debt forgiveness in which a portion of a developing country’s foreign debt is exchanged for investments in domestic environmental conservation and sustainability projects.

He reminded the audience that the Seychelles archipelago was mostly water; 3000 times more of it than land, making the ocean a crucial asset to Seychellois and various industries in the country. The necessity to protect this asset paved the way to develop the Blue Economy concept with four main focuses; economic diversification, jobs (and, as a result, prosperity), food security, and also to sustain the ecological integrity of the country’s marine environment.

The audience then got the breakdown of how the debt buy-back (of US$ 21.6 M through an impact loan on condition of the designation of 30% of Seychelles’ EEZ and disbursing at least US$ 200,000 annually for a period of 20 years towards ocean conservation and climate adaptation) was accomplished through the partnership of The Nature Conservancy’s Nature, Seychelles’ Government, and many private foundations as well as the setting up of the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) to execute the conservation actions and manage the funds.

Nature-based solutions (NbS), which was at the heart of the Forum, are defined as ‘actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges (climate change, food, and water security, etc) effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.

NbS is of high importance to Seychelles’ Government who has committed to protect and manage its entire mangroves and seagrass distribution by 2030.