Seychelles’ innovative funding of blue economy highlighted at Commonwealth Business Forum
President of Seychelles, Danny Faure (State House)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles’ innovative financing methods to fund the blue economy were discussed at the Commonwealth Business Forum held in London on Tuesday.
President Danny Faure was invited to open the session on the theme ‘Building the Future’. The forum is part of the 25th meeting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) being held from April 16 to 20.
The head of state focussed his presentation on the island nation’s example in developing sustainable blue finance projects, and the advantages of investing in sustainable development and Green Finance.
“Firstly, one must understand Seychelles’ context. We have an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres. That is more than twice the area of Madagascar. Our landmass, on the other hand, is only 455 square kilometres, or about one third the size of London. So for us, like for many small island nations, green is blue,” said Faure.
The President of Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in western Indian Ocean - gave an overview of the different initiatives taken by the country.
“As a high-income country since 2015, we have turned to innovative finance to fund our blue economy initiatives. For us, green finance is blue finance and it is all about sustainability. We have piloted, with some success, some ‘blue’ finance projects, including the Debt Swap for Conservation and Climate Adaptation, with the support of the Paris Club of Creditors and The Nature Conservancy at a value of US$ 21.6 million,” Faure told the Forum, held at the Mansion House in London.
“Thanks to the debt swap, Seychelles is developing a marine spatial plan of our entire EEZ, which we will have finalised by 2020. Already, 15% of EEZ - or 200,000 square kilometres - has been designated as marine protected areas and a remaining 15 % will be designated by 2020” explained Faure.
The Commonwealth Business Forum is an integral part of the CHOGM and brings together businesses critical to trade and investment leadership with Government to debate the issues facing their countries in 2018 and beyond. Organised by The Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council and the Government of the United Kingdom, in partnership with the City of London, this top level business gathering is only accessed by special invitation.
The second initiative which the President talked about in the Business Forum is the Seychelles Sovereign Blue Bond at a value of US$15 million.
“This was designed with the support of the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and The Prince of Wales’ Charities International Sustainability Unit. This will include blue grants for fisheries reform and concessionary blue loans that will enable businesses to improve their value chains to reduce overcapacity and overfishing,” Faure said.
The head of Seychelles concluded his intervention by saying that the island nation is “now interested in exploring how blue finance can assist us with emerging technology-based sectors, such as renewable energy, waste management, and biotechnology. We also recognise the need for blue finance to support education and training, without which we could not sustain our development over the long term.”
The Business Forum addresses the CHOGM 2018 theme ‘Towards a common future’ and focuses on six key areas; accessing modern financial services, easing the pathway for business and growth, harnessing Commonwealth technology and innovation, creating a new attitude to sustainable business, mobilising an export economy and attracting inward investment.
As part of the bilateral talks held in the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, President Faure met with the Prime Minister of Malta and current Commonwealth Chair-in-Office, Joseph Muscat on Monday.
During the meeting Faure and Muscat reviewed some of the issues they discussed in Malta last year, during the “Our Ocean Conference”, which included efforts in drug prevention, development in the energy sector, tourism and waste management; issues that both our Small Island Developing States share.
The Prime Minister of Malta expressed his interests to actively engage with Seychelles in sharing best practices, bilateral training, and investment opportunities in these areas.