Seychellois youth are the leaders of both today and tomorrow, and it is more important than ever to provide youth with the tools required to protect the ocean. As an archipelago of islands who rely on the Blue Economy, the country’s prosperity is threatened by human behaviour such as pollution and over-fishing, as well as the effects of climate change, namely sea level rising and coral bleaching. It is, therefore, opportune to empower Seychellois youth to protect their homeland from the potentially devastating impacts of human behaviour.
SeyCCAT is financing exactly that. The Blue Economy Internship Programme (BEIP), which is led by SYAH, aims to promote a range of sustainable development opportunities for young people aged between 15-30, educating Seychellois youth about the blue economy, whilst inspiring them to pursue careers in the sector. Since conception in 2016, the programme’s popularity has exploded (applications increased by 31% and 42% in 2017 and 2018 respectively). The 4th edition of the BEIP internship, which SeyCCAT is a key sponsor of, partners with a broad range of projects, allowing interns insights into different prospective blue economy careers, teaching youth the importance of the ocean, the ocean’s fragility and how to protect this valuable resource.
The interns’ testimonies indicate the diversity of projects on offer:
We spent time in Mauritius, visiting lots of different places including the University, and we also did an oceanography course for 4 or 5 days.Joshua Sofola, 2016 Blue Economy intern
I learned all about the renewable energy sources used in Seychelles such as wind farms and solar panels, and how they are beneficial in the long run, despite being expensive initially. The following year, I worked on a turtle hatchling project.Kelsy Gill, 2018 Blue Economy intern
During my first internship, I got to snorkel for the first time ever. It was breath-taking, and it was when I realised I was passionate about the marine environment. The next year I worked on a project using seaweed as an alternative to plastic packaging.Amy Joubert, 2017 Blue Economy intern
By allowing young people opportunities they would not otherwise have, the Blue Economy Internship programme opens up a world of new career possibilities, and many interns have changed their career plans following their experiences on the internship.
Three of the many opportunities on offer with on the BEIP.
For example, Mia, who is now 19, explained that although she had always “loved to the ocean and wanted to work within conservation,” she had not heard of the blue economy or the importance of shipping before the internship. She describes the internship as having “shaped” her career path, as after learning about the shipping industry of Seychelles, she now studies Nautical Science at the Seychelles Maritime Academy.
Likewise, Kelsy, who interned both in 2017 and 2018 explains that she changed career paths after her time on the blue economy internship programme. She had wanted to be a doctor in the sixth form, reflecting that conservation had “always been a passion, but not something I had considered as a viable career.” She describes taking a “leap of faith” following the internship, and now, Kelsy plans to go into policy-making within sustainability and is studying Environmental Sciences at the University of Seychelles. She also noted that others on her cohort were more active on social media following their time on the internship, sharing conservation-related content.
Joshua on the other hand always wanted to go into conservation, following his experiences on previous volunteering projects. However, after doing his fieldwork with SeyCCAT, he changed his route and is now studying mass communication at INTI, Malaysia, with the goal of working in the media, covering conservation-related stories. He explains that ‘other people need to know about the real situation, not sugar-coated. It is important how people are taught about the environment’.
There is a wide range of supervisors on the Blue Economy Internship Programme, who come from multiple different sectors within the Blue Economy. However, one thing they agree on is the importance of engaging the youth of Seychelles in conservation and the blue economy. Michael Pouponneau for example, the Commanding Officer of the Seychelles Air Force and supervises the BEIP interns who do their placements there explains that the importance of future conservation practices, as the ocean “must continue to provide for future generations” and must “secure their future, by offering sustainable livelihoods.”
Likewise, Vincent Didon, who supervises the interns at the Seychelles Port Authority where he is the Director, maintains the importance of educating young people, explaining that the welfare of the blue economy has an ‘overarching effect on the prosperity of the country’, and that ‘everyone must play a role in safeguarding for the next generation to come’. He notes his experience collaborating with the BEIP has proven that by allowing young people insights into career prospects within the Blue Economy, directly or indirectly they are more likely to pursue a career within the sector.
- Researched and written by Izzy Sasada