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Seychelles fulfills first climate commitment |17 August 2022

Seychelles fulfills first climate commitment

Guests and delegates in a souvenir photograph after the opening of the session yesterday (Photo: Louis Toussaint)

Seychelles has proudly fulfilled its first climate commitment under the Paris Agreement, it was announced yesterday by the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) at the start of a two-day working session taking place at the Savoy Resort & Spa.

The Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Flavien Joubert, made the announcement during remarks to launch the session noting that after more than two years of field work from both local and international partners, one of the climate commitments has been finally fulfilled.

And this is ; “To map the full extent of our sea grass ecosystems across our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This is a huge and significant undertaking, providing the much needed baseline for us to be able to advance the additional goals of protecting, monitoring, managing and accounting for the benefits that these ecosystems provide.”

Minister Joubert went on to note that this would also help the growing global interest in nature-based solutions.

The Seychelles government, as a party to the Paris Agreement, has a total of four emphasised commitments in their updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to protect its coastal wetland mangroves and its sea grass ecosystems. The commitment which has been successfully completed was to map the full extent of mangrove and sea grass ecosystems across the entire Seychelles EEZ. The other three commitments consist of subsequently ensuring the protection of at least fifty percent of these ecosystems by 2025 and one hundred percent by 2030, establishing a long-term monitoring platform for sea grass ecosystems including blue carbon values within the country’s National Greenhouse Gas inventory by 2025.

“These ecosystems sustain vital adaptation and ecosystem services for frontline communities-filtering water, buffering storm surges and providing nursery grounds for fisheries,” Minister Joubert pointed out.

He went on to highlight that twenty percent of the world’s commercial fishing depends on sea grasses.

Partners involved in the Coastal Wetland and Climate Change Project – including PEW Trust, Oxford University, University of Seychelles (UniSey), SeyCCAT, the Island Conservation Society (ICS) and the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS), helped provide significant methodical learning to more accurately understand and protect the benefits of these sea grass ecosystems.

Senior policy analyst for the climate change department, Elissa Lalande, then made a presentation on climate change and Seychelles’ NDCs. She spoke on their targets and the necessary negotiations to achieve them.

“Seychelles has what we call a National Climate Change Policy. There is a vision and that is to have a sustainable, climate-resilient and low carbon Seychelles.”

She further added that there is an ongoing discussion to propose a Blue Carbon Policy.

Dr Gwilym Rowlands followed with another presentation to give an overview of the project, as well as the results of the mapping. He remarked that over 16 locations were mapped by over 50 researchers, to produce the sea grass map. Sea grass ecosystems with a percentage cover of over ten percent were their main focus. Three regions were mapped; the Mahé Plateau, the Aldabra Farquhar group and the Amirantes, Platte, Coetivy group. He remarked that; “in terms of the inner islands and the Mahé Plateau, we expect that there are around 350 km2 of sea grass. Around Amirantes, Platte and Coetivy, we estimate 725 square kilometres of sea grass habitat, and in the outer islands – the Aldabra and Farquhar groups, some 337 square kilometres of sea grass. So the total estimate for Seychelles is around 1412 square kilometres of sea grass.”

The Coastal Wetlands and Climate change project manager at SeyCCAT, Annike Faure, highlighted some of the benefits of sea grass.

“It protects the coast. It also helps with water chemistry. It provides a place where turtles can sleep and eat and it is also a nursery for fish,” she explained.

She added that the mapping will help Seychelles confirm to its NDC commitment. She also pointed out that with the project now in its second phase, the focus will be placed on socialisation. The mapping data will be sent to the Geographical Information Systems section and be used appropriately when coastal development proposals are brought forward.

Also present for the launch of the working session were the principal secretary for the blue economy, Kenneth Racombo, the director of PEW Trust Simon Reddy, representatives of UniSey, ICS and MCSS.

Other presentations were related to the Seychelles sea grass map and carbon stock, community engagement and capacity development.

The workshop will continue today with more presentations and a discussion on an action roadmap.


Sylia Ah-Time


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