A year at a glance – 2019
Angelique Pouponneau, CEO of SeyCCAT
What a year it has been! 2019 was nothing if not interesting with many firsts for the Trust.
In 2019, we received many applications and did our best to make the process inclusive. We distributed over US$ 700, 000 in grants-financing for projects, and for the first time the request amount was more than double what we had available. We strengthened our commitment to learning and evidence-based policy-making. We invested in the development of skills and the ideas of Seychellois.
None of this would have been possible without our partners: The Nature Conservancy, The World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Government of Seychelles, the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association, our local partners and members of our grants and finance committee.
We are happy to share some of the outcomes of the work we did in 2019 and take a look at what 2020 might hold for SeyCCAT and the blue capital of Seychelles.
Sustainable growth through inclusive finance
The guiding theme of our work this year was inclusion, and not just inclusion as a beautiful word but practically making the funds accessible to people in Seychelles regardless of their level of formal education, gender, social standing, or any other factor besides having a viable idea. To make it happen, we introduced several adjustments before and during the application process. For example, we developed a communications strategy that focuses on reaching the community, local entrepreneurs, and fishers – people who might not have heard of SeyCCAT before but would greatly benefit from the Trust’s offer. Also, in 2019, we accepted funding applications in the Creole language, removing the possible language barrier for potential applicants and offering the opportunity to convey ideas in one’s native tongue.
Investing in people and developing skills
Producing a successful application can be a challenging task especially for first-time funding seekers. To support less experienced applicants, we joined forces with our partners (Guy Morel Institute, Enterprise Seychelles Agency and SYAH) to offer practical training on the best practices on application preparation, specifically focusing on complex budgeting and project management sections. In total, 65 people benefited from the training.
The results showed that these were much-needed interventions. We received 49 funding applications, setting a new record. Following the competitive selection process, we chose 21 projects (8 small grants and 13 large grants) for funding. This is triple the number in 2017 and 2018.
Among those, are 3 new projects led by fishers directly, which illustrates that our efforts to reach the fishing communities are bearing the first fruits.
Committed to learning
In 2019, we also reaffirmed our commitment to learning and development. In February, SeyCCAT commissioned research into tourists’ willingness to pay to support the investment in Seychelles’ environment conservation. The research provided some very interesting insights.
Working with our partners, the Seychelles’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Eco-Sol Consulting, we hosted several public events and focus groups that helped bring new market insights to the SeyCCAT community and the local businesses. As well, we had an opportunity to share our knowledge internationally and place SeyCCAT on the international map of blue economy experts. SeyCCAT was featured as a guest speaker in 10 events, including the first Marine Regions Forum, the Communities of Ocean Action SDG 14 meeting, and the Our Ocean conference – read more
Let the numbers do the talking
2019 is the first year to see near full uptake of the funds available for disbursement. This year, US$ 889,974 will be used to finance 21 projects under the Blue Grant Fund#3
Diversity of applicants
The investment in the inclusive communications strategy and capacity building has ensured that there are more applicants and a diversity of actors now able to access the finance of the Trust. 5 categories are eligible to access finance: civil society organisations, including non-governmental organisations, government entities, parastatals, businesses, and individuals. In 2019, all groups were represented and made it through the selection process.
Inclusive access: Gender and Youth
The gender ratio is almost at parity, with 52% of application submitted by women or women-led organisations. However, more needs to be done to make sure that the private sector and youth have equal opportunities to access the Blue Grants Fund.
People in focus: Trefle Mondon, Retired Fisherman, Anse Royale
We meet Trefle Mondon at the Anse Royale – a long stretch of white beach on the eastern side of Mahe. Coming from generations of fishermen, Trefle has been at sea for the most part of his life. “I started fishing at the age of 16 until I turned 65 years old, that’s when I retired” – he says.
With half a century worth of experience, Trefle has probably seen it all but the changes in fish stock are the most prominent. “A lot has changed since I started. In the early days, you would use only 3 traps and you would have a big catch, especially for rabbitfish. Now, it’s not easy – you won’t get fish. You will need 15- 20 traps before you get enough fish to sell at the market. Lots of fish are disappearing including sharks, rays and groupers”, – says Mr. Mondon. But he is not just an observer: “I am now collaborating with Green Islands Foundation in our “species of local concern” project because it is clear that this is serious and needed,” – he explains.
Green Island Foundation, a non-profit established in 2006, has launched a project that works with fishermen to collect data on species of local concern. The project monitors, photographs, and measures daily catch at the landing sites around Mahe and at the Victoria market, helping spot threatened and rare species of fish.
“Since I’ve been collecting data , I’m yet to see a filanbaz (Green humphead parrotfish) “, – says the retired fisherman.
The two-year project supports Seychelles’s Blue Economy strategy and promotes sustainable fisheries.
When asked what advice would he give to the coming generations of fishers, Trefle does not hesitate: “My advice is to be conscious about the health of the stock, it would be better for everyone in the long run. Our children will have a chance to know these species, rather than just see them in photographs.”
Meet Stephanie – the first Seychellois Aquanaut
Another highlight of 2019 was our partnership with Nekton. Nekton’s deep ocean expedition is an ambitious project “to undertake at least 50 first descents to generate critical data, develop local research expertise and gain public support to underpin Seychelles’ commitment to protecting 30% of their national waters by 2020”. Stephanie, a 23-year-old marine researcher was given the chance to sit as co-pilot in a submersible part of the Nekton Deep Sea Expedition. Read more about Stephanie’s adventure.
SeyCCAT will be welcoming Annike Faure to the team to manage the Blue Carbon and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) project.
Blue Grants Fund #4 will be open on the 6th April 2020.
2020 will be an important year for Seychelles! It is the year where we would have reached our third milestone to protect 30% of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Seychelles and we are focused on implementation; and how to best monitor and evaluate the success of the system of protected areas.
With the ambition of effectively protecting 400, 000 km2 of water – we need all hands on deck!