Seychelles joins in regional project to tackle hazardous chemicals and waste |17 March 2023
Seychelles has received financing amounting to US $2.5 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to undertake a local project as part of a regional endeavour to manage hazardous chemicals and waste.
The project – ‘Implementing Sustainable Low and non-chemical Development in Sids’ or the ‘Chemicals and Waste project’ – consists of four national sub-projects in four small island states including Comoros, Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles and one regional subject totalling over US $12 million.
The launch of the project was held at the Savoy Resort & Spa yesterday and was attended by the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Flavien Joubert; the representative of UNDP, Ndeye Maty Cisse; and various local stakeholders from the public and private sector.
The main objective of the project is for each participating Sids (small island developing state) to prevent the future build-up of materials and chemicals entering Sids and safely manage and dispose of existing harmful chemicals, products and materials currently present in Sids.
In particular, the project will focus on strengthening institutional mechanisms and capacity to manage hazardous chemicals and waste.
Minister Joubert shared that “although Seychelles is not an important importer or manufacturer of these pesticides, we supported the international community in these endeavours and banned the importation of these chemicals in our law. A couple of years later more synthetic chemicals were added to the Convention. These included industrial chemicals found in a wide range of consumer items including electronic and electrical equipment, old vehicles as well as fire-fighting foam”.
“Impacts from such wastes into the environment can have detrimental effects on our ecosystem as well as on our health. This is why we have to divert such wastes from our landfill and instead, introduce recycling schemes for such wastes. Left to its own devices, these chemicals will persist in our soil and waters for a very long time. They enter the food chain and accumulate in our bodies where they disrupt our normal bodily function leading to all sorts of diseases and even deaths.”
Minister Joubert reiterated that being a small island developing state, this poses many challenges in the implementation of those activities.
“Lack of financial as well as manpower resources hinders our progress. Today I am pleased that the GEF and the UN executing agencies have recognised our commitment and has accorded support for Sids of the Caribbean and Indian Ocean region through this regional project. This project in Seychelles will strengthen our institutional mechanisms and most importantly, our capacity to prevent, monitor and manage hazardous chemicals and wastes.”
The UNDP programme and operations specialist, Ndeye Maty Cisse, explained that each of the four national sub-projects as well as the regional project have their own project document and are executed in country through National Implementation.
“It is estimated that around 50,000 tonnes of waste are generated annually in the Seychelles, but challenges around safe disposal, capacity of the landfills, and financing sustainable waste management solutions remain. The recent fires at the landfill highlight the importance and the urgency for improved waste disposal and management practices.”
Under the project, explained Ms Cisse, Seychelles will – (a) review the enabling environment and the existing legislative environment for a harmonised, safe and sustainable management of chemicals and hazardous waste; (b) enhance the capacity of relevant authorities and agents for safer disposal of hazardous waste and (c) conduct necessary feasibility and economic assessments, construct a database and map potential solutions for sustainable management of waste; among other planned activities.
Nanette Laure from the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change & Environment also added that the submission of the project was in 2019 but due to the pandemic, there has been a delay. The objective of the Indian Ocean Regional Project is for each participating Sids to prevent the future build-up of materials and chemicals entering Sids that contain POPs and mercury and other harmful chemicals; to safely manage and dispose of existing harmful chemicals, products and materials currently present in those Sids; and to ensure the safe management of products continuing to enter Sids by closing materials and product loops. The ultimate objective of the project is to protect human health and the environment from the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and wastes.
Ultimately, this project will include the development of new chemical and waste legislation, conducting a feasibility study for an interim hazardous waste facility, implementing national and regional recycling schemes and enhancing national capacity to prevent, monitor and manage hazardous wastes and priority waste streams.
Text & photo by Vidya Gappy