Seychelles brings financial innovations to Clinton Global Initiative
May 08, 2015
Minister Jean-Paul Adam, Minister of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy, has represented President James Michel at the first Clinton Global Initiative Conference for the Middle East and Africa, where he has shared Seychelles' innovative financing initiatives as well as youth empowerment experiences.
The conference was convened in Marrakesh, Kingdom of Morocco, by the Chairperson of the Clinton Global Initiative, former U.S. President Bill Clinton who had invited President Michel to bring Seychelles' perspectives in the context of development financing as Africa's smallest nation.
Speaking on a panel aimed at addressing financing gaps for countries of the region, Minister Adam emphasised the need to look beyond one size fits all solutions and to adapt financing structures to the strengths and weaknesses of the respective economies of individual countries. He underlined the fact that island nations such as Seychelles, while not endowed with large commercial extra table resources, were blessed with a huge 'natural capital'. In the context of sustainable development it was important that countries could leverage this natural capital to better finance their development while not undermining the fragile ecosystem which is fundamental to the real value of this natural capital.
He used the example of Seychelles' debt swap initiative as a means by which states could 'reinvest' existing debts into environmental protection. "In a country like Seychelles, when you invest in environmental protection, you are also making your economy more resilient. While the rewards are not necessarily immediate, this investment can create many opportunities in relation to more value for sustainable fisheries, Eco-tourism and similar economic activities", the minister remarked.
As part of the debt swap, Seychelles would jointly create with US based NGO, the Nature Conservancy, a special trust fund to manage a marine protected area of the most sensitive areas within its Exclusive Economic Zone. This trust, the Seychelles Climate Change Adaptation Trust would help to boost the environmental and economic resilience of Seychelles against climate change.
The Minister also noted that it was important that long term sustainable finance be sourced for key industries in small and middle income countries. He noted that Seychelles has put forward the concept of developing Blue Bonds, whereby affordable funds can be mobilised to be invested in Seychelles fisheries management plans, mobilising new funding for the development of the Blue Economy.
The Minister reminded the conference that the Africa and Middle East region had yet to fully profit from all the potential of its oceanic resources- and to do so would involve reinforcing the protection of sensitive and under threat resources, while also ensuring that research and investment allowed them to tap into under- explored and undeveloped potential.
The panel which also featured representatives of the private sector, financial institutions and NGOs also took note of the challenges in reducing risk in relation to lending to key demographics such as Small and Medium Enterprises and young entrepreneurs.
Minister Adam shared Seychelles' experience of offering government guarantees to SME loans which were provided both through state owned banks and private banks. He also emphasised that there was a real need to improve capacity building for young entrepreneurs and noted that in recent workshops for young people in Seychelles the main constraints raised were access to capital, available up to date information and capacity building. Through its SME scheme the government also aimed to ensure better access for young people to affordable financing. The conference also emphasised the need to promote 'social entrepreneurs' who could simultaneously enhance cohesion and availability of services in a community and create employment and wealth creation.
During the conference, Minister Adam also attended a special round table discussion with former President Clinton, former President of Nigeria, Mr. Okesugun Obasanjo and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mo Ibrahim where key development issues were discussed.
Minister Adam took the opportunity to express the appreciation of Seychelles for the initiatives taken by foundations such as the Clinton Foundation to support sustainable development innovations. He also expressed appreciation for the technical assistance of the Clinton Global Initiative to develop the capacity for waste to energy generation in Seychelles.
Minister Adam was accompanied at the conference by Mr. Wills Agricole, Principal Secretary for Energy and Climate Change and Ms. Fatoumata Sylla, Director General Executive Office of the President.