28th January 2021| Victoria, SeychellesSeychelles reaffirms its commitment to the ocean-climate agenda

Earlier this week, Seychelles along with several other countries, jointly hosted a virtual two-day ocean-climate ambition summit. The purpose of the summit was to maintain engagement and momentum on ocean-climate action which will ultimately set the agenda for the UN Climate Change of Parties (COP26) later this year.

The summit held great significance for Seychelles, which, along with Indonesia, Fiji, Costa Rica, Panama, and Palau sponsored a resolution in 2019 to have a greater recognition of the ocean as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The resolution resulted in a commitment at COP25, to a call for an ocean-climate dialogue whereby ways and means to strengthen mitigation and adaptation actions could be considered. Seychelles, known for its pioneering financial instruments, such as the Seychelles’ sovereign blue bond, took this opportunity to make a submission with a focus on opportunities for financing and seeking avenues to create synergies between ocean and climate policies. The dialogue was hosted by the UNFCCC in December 2020.

The event this past week is the latest activity in the ocean-climate commitment to keep up this momentum. Although global recognition of the role that oceans play in mitigating the effects of climate change has grown, it is only with the persistent voices and leadership from small islands and other ocean-minded states that a new course can be charted for the integration of the ocean-climate nexus into formal international climate negotiations going forward.

Mr Flavien Joubert, Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE) was invited to make an intervention at the opening session alongside some other ocean leaders. In his remarks, he reminded delegates of the role our “blue carbon” coastal wetlands, namely seagrass meadows, mangroves and saltmarshes play in sequestering vast amounts of carbon, as well as sustaining vital adaptation and ecosystem services for front line communities.

 

He noted the Government’s collaboration with the Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT), amongst other partners in pioneering research and building capacity to monitor, measure and manage the benefits our coastal wetlands provide so that we can effectively protect and maintain them.

SeyCCAT has been supporting the Government of Seychelles in its endeavour to bring seagrass meadows on the forefront of the country’s climate change adaptation actions. Scientific research is being carried out to quantify their carbon intake and map out the meadows in our waters. The results of this project will enable Seychelles to include seagrass ecosystems in its National Determined Contributions, due for submission in June 2021. This will be in line with the Paris Agreement.

With 1.4 million km2 of water surrounding its islands, it is to be expected that Seychelles would be a tenacious force in advocating for ocean-climate to assume its rightful place in the climate-change fight. The ocean has absorbed much of the increased heat in our atmosphere, with the top 100 meters of ocean showing warming of more than 0.33°C in the past 50 years. In addition to its ability to protect us from the damaging effects of climate change, the ocean is vital to our tourism industry, our health and diet and our economy as a whole given our strategic location to render port services.

Managing the ocean in a sustainable manner is not just the right thing to do but the only option if Seychelles is to leave a conservation legacy for the next generation. It is imperative that its voice and concerns continue to be heard. For Seychelles to ensure this, it has to consistently be innovative and daring in its contributions to the global ocean-climate dialogue.