New Zealand keen to increase collaboration with Seychelles - Renewable energy, education, blue economy and maritime security explored
Seychelles President James Michel on his first official visit to New Zealand meeting with the country's Governor General Sir Jerry Mateparae. (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The upcoming UN conference on small island developing states in Apia, Samoa, collaboration in the field of renewable energy and education are some of the key issues discussed between the Seychelles President James Michel and the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae.
According to a press statement issued by State House this afternoon, Michel, who is on his first official visit to New Zealand, met Mateparae at the Government House, in Auckland today.
The Seychellois head of state has described as excellent relations between the two island nations.
According to the statement, when discussing the third international conference on small island developing nations which will begin on September 1 in Apia, Samoa, Michel and Mateparae focussed largely on “the importance of the Blue Economy towards the sustainable development of small island states.”
Michel noted that there exist shared opportunities and shared responsibilities in the blue economy highlighting the importance for island nations to work together to find ways to better exploit their marine resources and increase ownership of their oceans.
“New Zealand is an inspiring maritime nation which has set positive examples for sustainable practices in its fisheries sector. The Indian and Pacific Ocean have many experiences which they can share with each other in order to further consolidate their process of regional integration,” said Michel.
Environment protection was also largely discussed during the meeting between the Seychellois head of state and governor general of New Zealand where it was pointed out that a large part of the land territory of both countries are protected as nature reserves.
Seychelles has 52 percent of its land territory protected as nature reserves while New Zealand’s protected land territory stands at 30 percent.
President Michel and his delegation comprising of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam, the Secretary General in the Office of the President, Lise Bastienne, and the Chief Press Secretary, Srdjana Janosevic during the meeting with the Governor-General of New Zealand, Sir Jerry Mateparae (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
In its statement State House says, “Mateparae commended Seychelles in its leadership role among the Indian Ocean islands in the fight against piracy, climate change as well as its progress in undertaking economic and governance reforms.”
“He noted New Zealand’s willingness to partner with Seychelles on a number of bilateral cooperation projects which would be mutually beneficial to the two countries,” read the statement.
On the issue of regional security issues, and the need for sustained maritime surveillance and information-sharing in order to combat transnational crime the two leaders discussed the expected deployment of a P-3K2 Orion airborne surveillance and response aircraft from New Zealand to Seychelles next month.
“The air surveillance team will remain in the region for a four-month period, as part of the Combined Maritime Forces to assist in international efforts to address and reduce maritime piracy in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean,” said the statement.
The possibility for New Zealand to help build Seychelles capacity in the field of renewable energy and the continued support of the New Zealand government in the field of education were also largely discussed.
Many Seychellois students have benefitted from scholarships which the New Zealand government provides to Seychelles every year in various fields such as medicine, dentistry and sciences.
During his visit to New Zealand today, Michel met with one of the Seychellois students currently undertaking further studies.
Myra Laporte, a Senior Economist from the Seychelles Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is currently pursuing a Masters in Development Studies at the University of Auckland, with research focused on the Blue Economy.
“Mr. Michel encouraged Ms Laporte to excel in her studies, as her knowledge would be a valuable asset in the development of the country for a sustainable future,” read the State House statement.
|President Michel during his meeting with Myra Laporte, a Senior Economist from the Seychelles Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is currently pursuing a Masters in Development Studies at the University of Auckland (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
The University of Auckland is ranked in the top 100 universities of the world by QS World University Rankings.
The Seychellois head of state’s visit to the University of Auckland today was also an opportunity to further explore renewable energy partnerships particularly with the institutions Faculty of Engineering.
Discussions with the Dean of the Faculty, Professor Nicholas Smith and other faculty staff centred on the university’s research into renewable energy such solar energy, geothermal energy, wind power and bio-fuel.
Latest technology for energy storage and distribution, such as smart grids, solar energy batteries and cost-effective implementation of renewable energy schemes were also discussed.
|President Michel and his delegation were given a presentation by the University faculty team, and it was agreed that future cooperation would be developed in the near future. (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
“The President said that opportunities exist for partnerships to be created between the University of Seychelles and University of Auckland as well as the Seychelles Energy Commission, for energy studies and related courses which would ensure that future generations of Seychellois engineers are able to develop renewable energy as a major source for the country,” read the statement.
“We have already started with wind power, and now we must develop our solar energy capabilities to a larger scale. With the expertise and partnership of the University of Auckland, I believe we can chart a clearer path in our journey to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and maximise the potential for clean energy exploitation,” said Michel.
|A View of Auckland harbour (Mervyn Marie, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
From New Zealand Michel and his delegation will head to Apia, the capital of the Samoa Island for the third international conference on small island developing states which will take place from September 1 - 4.
‘The sustainable development of small island developing states through genuine and durable partnerships’ is the theme chosen for the gathering.
The grouping of small island developing states, SIDS, which the Indian Ocean archipelago is part of, was first recognised as a distinct group of developing countries at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in June 1992.
The third SIDS conference is also taking place during the year which United Nations has declared, the international year of Small Island developing states.
In line with the UN theme, Michel also declared the Seychelles national theme for 2014, ‘International Year of Small Island Developing States: Seychelles – A Determined Island Nation’.