Seychelles' President pleads for "urgency of deliberations in Dubai" COP28 in pursuit of sustainable future
President Ramkalawan addressing the high-level segment for heads of state and government at COP28 in the UAE. (State House)
The President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, highlighted the urgency of deliberations in pursuit of a sustainable future at the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai Expo City.
In his address on Friday at the high-level segment for heads of state and government, Ramkalawan continued his appeal to other world leaders to seize this moment to reverse the course and forge a sustainable and resilient future for generations to come.
“As parties to the convention, we committed to deliver on commitments such as the $100 billion promise, scaling up adaptation finance, new collective quantified goal on finance and most recently the Loss and Damage Fund. We are yet at another COP and I am disheartened to state that most of these commitments are yet to be fulfilled despite the urgency required to address the climate crisis,” he said.
Ramkalawan called on leaders for their unwavering shift in political-will that will translate into concrete actions so as to confine global temperature rise within the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is among the small island states affected by climate change despite contributing very little to global emissions.
He said that like many small island developing states, 90 percent of Seychelles’ infrastructure and human activities occur along its low-lying coastal areas and are thus vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
“The current trajectory means Seychelles’ economy stands to be severely undermined, whereby forcing us to divert much needed finance to environment protection, instead of investing in education, health, sports, agriculture, food security, modernisation and giving our people a better standard of living,” he stressed.
|A group photo of the Leaders attending the COP28. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY
Ramkalawan said it is vital that the Loss and Damage Fund, of which the UAE and Germany pledged $100 million each at the beginning of the COP28, is equitable and genuinely helpful to countries that are experiencing climate-related disasters.
“It should be inclusive enough without limiting access to finance, especially for high-income SIDS like Seychelles. We need less complicated and complex financial mechanism that will allow us SIDS to easily access those financial opportunities. Again, my call is to consider our special circumstances,” he added.
Ramkalawan said that a recent comprehensive survey only on the most populated granitic islands of Seychelles estimated that around $22 million is needed for road infrastructure works and other measures to mitigate coastal erosion.
“Our updated NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) highlighted a further $600 million will be required over the next 10 years, for both mitigation and adaptation sector, translating to 5 percent of GDP annually or 10 percent of the annual budget,” he added.
He once again stressed that the current criteria used to access concessionary finance puts small island developing states (SIDS) such as Seychelles at a severe disadvantage under the current labels.
“There is an urgent need to reform the multilateral international financial institutions to address the restrictive conditionalities. This reform is necessary to help fund climate change projects. In other words, finance needs to be more readily available, accessible and affordable to support these projects,” he said.
Ramkalawan said that nevertheless, Seychelles is actively engaged in decarbonising its energy sector including transitioning to green mobility and as a dedicated environmental champion, remains committed to safeguard its terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
“We are protecting 99 percent of our seagrass and 84 percent of our mangroves and another 50 percent of our scarce land mass. Recent sightings of blue whales in our waters after more than 60 years serves as evidence that our conservation efforts are creating a safe haven for marine life,” said the President.
Meanwhile, Seychelles has a Pavilion at the Dubai Expo City, which is open for various events including presentations on eco schools projects – where young children are introduced to environment clubs and a talk about sustainable business opportunities.
COP28 is expected to wrap up on December 12.