IORA Blue Carbon Think Tank Hub

Blue Carbon is becoming a buzz word in the Indian Ocean and internationally. Blue Carbon refers to the Carbon Dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change that is captured and stored in marine/coastal ecosystems. These ecosystems are inclusive of many, however the IPCC only recognizes three coastal ecosystems mangroves, seagrass and saltmarsh for their quantifiable mitigation value. Seychelles is fortunate to have two, mangrove forests and seagrass beds, both of which occur here in Seychelles. In fact, Seychelles has extensive seagrass beds across its massive 1.4 million km2 Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Blue Carbon ecosystems are over ten times more efficient at storing CO2 than terrestrial ones such as forests, meaning it is increasingly important to conserve and restore mangroves and seagrasses to slow-down human-induced climate change.

With growing interest regarding Blue Carbon in the region, the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) sent a team to the Indian Ocean Rim Association’s (IORA) inaugural Blue Carbon Finance Think Tank in Mauritius. This event, organized by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Blue Carbon Hub, brought together IORA member states and dialogue partners to discuss opportunities for Blue Carbon financing in the region. The aim of the think tank was not only to investigate financing opportunities, but to bring the IORA states together to set joint goals and map how to achieve them.

Four themes were covered during the two day meeting, which had presenters from GRID Arendal, London School of Economics, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, Verra and others. The themes were:

  1. Payments for ecosystem services and carbon markets
  2. Carbon markets and sustainable trade
  3. Bonds
  4. De-risking and blended finance

SeyCCAT was honoured to have been invited to deliver a presentation under the theme “De-risking and blended finance”, providing an opportunity to showcase the Trust as well as to share its origin (the Debt-for-Nature-Swap) and journey since then.

After almost two days of sound discussion between delegates and theme panel members, the group was tasked with identifying challenges and opportunities for Blue Carbon ecosystems in IORA states, recommending actions and activities for regional support, and what to include in a policy white paper that could be presented to governments. This final task ignited lively discussion, rounding off the think tank aptly as delegates left with much to chew on for the next meeting.