The aim of this initiative is to raise financing to address climate change impact on coastal and marine biodiversity, and at the same time build the resilience of these ecosystems by reducing the anthropological pressures on them. The project will involve the creation of a large marine protected area covering approximately 30% of Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Through the elaboration of a Marine Spatial Plan (MSP), 50% of the protected area will be a no-take zone. The MSP is currently going through a stakeholder consultative process. To manage it, part of the money that Seychelles owes to its creditors will be diverted under a debt swap agreement that creates an Endowment Fund and a Trust Fund, which will have its own independent Board of Directors. Government will have a minority representation on the board. The money entrusted to the Trust Fund will be provided to local organizations working in the fields of environment, fisheries and the diversification of livelihoods.
Seychelles, like most Small Islands Developing States, is very vulnerable to climate change, ocean acidification and sea level rise. Each of these impacts poses major threats to coastal and marine biodiversity and the sustainable management of fisheries. When combined with anthropological impacts such as pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing methods, increased sedimentation and ocean floor mining, these threats accelerate the rate of marine ecosystem destruction and greatly reduce the benefits that communities can enjoy from ecosystem services. At the same time, most Small Islands Developing States have great debt burdens that they must service. This limits their capacity to meet their national fiscal needs, let alone invest in biodiversity conservation and fisheries stock management. Unless new, additional and sustained financing mechanisms can be found and accessed, Seychelles and other small island developing states will find it extremely difficult to address nature conservation and protection challenges at the scale that is required and effectively manage the fisheries industry. Securing long-term financing is key to the effective management of marine resources.
A debt-swap initiative will lead to the design of a Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) for whole EEZ of Seychelles. The fisheries industry and other economic sectors will be integrated into a clear and comprehensive plan for the sustainable development of Seychelles EEZ. Stakeholder consultations are key to secure by-in.
Conventional financing streams are too limited and not sufficient enough to meet the scale of challenges the planet faces. Marine Spatial Plans designate and manage large marine protected areas and the effective management of natural resources. Actions to develop Marine Spatial Plans, and to designate and effectively manage large marine protected areas and natural resources require the mobilization of significant resources. These goals can only be met if countries are prepared to explore innovative ideas and work in partnership to the benefit of all partners. It is important that countries also embrace the direct involvement of international and local NGOs, as they play an active role in promoting new and catalytic ideas. Above all, there must be political will at the highest level. This can only happen when politicians understand the gravity of the situation and the limited options that exist for a bright future, if biodiversity conservation and fisheries management are not mainstreamed into development strategies and policies.
Seychelles aims to finalise the Debt for Climate Change Adaptation and Nature Swap Initiative with the Paris Club by the 30th of November, 2014. The project is expected to provide three outcomes:
- Seychelles will produce its first Marine Spatial Plan through a thorough stakeholder consultative process.
- A large marine protected area with clear management plans will be prepared and adopted.
- A trust fund and endowment will be set up to manage the funds paid into by government to manage the large marine protected area and contribute towards building resilience and diversifying livelihoods.