Statement of Minister Jean-Paul Adam, Minister for Finance, Trade and The Blue Economy on World Oceans Day 2015
June 08, 2015
Today, 08th June, we celebrate and honour one of the planet’s most key life-sources which connect all - the oceans.
The story of the Seychellois people is a story about the ocean. Its past, its present, its future are strongly linked to the ocean.
For Seychelles - a Small Island Developing State in terms of land territory, but a large ocean state when we factor in our vast ocean space - and the Seychellois people, the ocean which surrounds us is our ‘passport to the future’. This was the theme chosen by the youth forum on the Blue Economy organised by the Seychelles Youth AIMS Hub in February 2015. It is a powerful theme. Our youth are increasingly drivers of our sustainable development movement, and our move to a Blue Economy. They are being empowered and are increasingly becoming the opinion-makers, particularly on environmental and sustainable development issues.
This message is also in coherence with the one coming from my ministry. The setting up of The Blue Economy Department, as part of the Ministry of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy is a clear indication that Seychelles will continue to pioneer the transition to a Blue Economy; a concept that promotes the sustainable use of our vast oceanic territory. We cannot reach our goal of a sustainable future without conserving and protecting our ocean.
The Blue Economy is not a new concept for Seychelles. It has mobilised several generations who have made a living from the sea. It has provided economic independence for our people. We are proud to see Seychellois fishermen and entrepreneurs fully embracing the opportunities of the Blue Economy by creating new value for their products by focusing on sustainability. The Government is committed to continue to support them in this process. Following on from our National Blue Economy Conference in December 2014, we will also continue to build the framework by which we may access the right research and technology needed to create more opportunity based on innovation.
We also salute the role of civil society in bringing our Blue Economy forward, both nationally and globally. We are proud of how so many local NGOs are showing that by embracing sustainable practices we can increase economic as well as conservation value
A delegation headed by Vice-President Danny Faure is in Paris today to mark this occasion and will underscore this key message from Small Island Developing States: the need for strong global action in the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where goal 14 is dedicated to oceans, seas and marine resources, as well as the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in December in Paris. It is no coincidence therefore that the 2015 World Oceans Day event organised by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC-UNESCO) has been dedicated to the oceans’ role in the climate system.
The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union has formally acknowledged that oceans are essential to the sustainable development of the Continent and that they should play a critical role in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. To this end, the Assembly has also declared 2015-2025 as the Decade of African Seas and Oceans, with another designated date specifically for “African Day of Seas and Oceans” which will be celebrated on the 25 July. This acknowledges the invaluable contribution of oceans and coasts to the development of the Continent.
In Seychelles we are already involved; we are pioneers in promoting the sustainable use of our ocean resources. Conservation, promoting awareness and taking action when required to protect our future are already on our agenda.
The Blue Economy, our oceans, is not just for one generation; they concern us all, our parents, grandparents, and our children, hence their prominence under the National theme of this year, “I Love Seychelles”.
We are committed and engaged to protect our ocean resources. We are looking at alternative ways to better manage them and ensure they are sustained. We will soon complete a full marine spatial plan of our exclusive economic zone (EEZ), which links to an innovative financial mechanism known as a debt- for -adaptation swap to protect 30 percent of our vast ocean territory. We have secured an agreement with the Paris Club of creditors for an early buy-back of part of Seychelles’ debt with Paris Club countries and we are in the process of settling almost $30 million of our national debt through this mechanism.
Seychelles will also co-host the Second Blue Economy Summit in Abu Dhabi with the United Arab Emirates at the beginning of 2016, following other local initiatives, including an investment forum on the margins of the Le Festival De La Mer in Seychelles, an annual celebration of the oceans.
We must never forget our oceans are a source of life, and we must ensure we empower our future generations to access its potential to the fullest. Each and every one of us can help change perspective and encourage others to think about what the oceans means to us and what they have to offer us all. We need to learn and discover the wealth of diverse and beautiful ocean creatures and habitats and how our daily actions affect them.
Let us change our ways; we are all linked to, and through, the ocean. Let us encourage our whole community to become caretakers of our ocean. By making small modifications to our daily habits, by involving our families and friends, we will all greatly benefit.
Let us celebrate that we live on such beautiful islands as the Seychelles and that we are proud Seychellois children of the ocean.