The Government of Seychelles in collaboration with the Commonwealth has launched the ‘Blue Economy Strategic Framework and Roadmap’ to build its ocean-based economy.
Yesterday, the President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, praised the Commonwealth for its contributions to the country.
He said in a statement: “I believe that the Commonwealth Secretariat is a believer of the Small Island Developing States and if today within the international forum, there is recognition of one’s small states, it is because the Commonwealth Secretariat has played an important role. You have been in the position to understand the vulnerability of the Small Island Developing States. Today, more people understand the concept and vision of the Blue Economy and what is important is how we are going to make it work.”
The Commonwealth’s Head of Oceans and Natural Resources, Nick Hardman-Mountford, described the initiative as a major boost for the country’s growing ocean economy.
He was speaking at the end of a two-day roundtable in Victoria, Seychelles. Attended by ministers from a range of government departments, development bodies, businesses, financial institutions and employment and training organisations, the meeting was focused on the next stages of the roadmap.
“This launch was a milestone in the ongoing partnership between the Commonwealth and the Government of Seychelles to protect the country’s vast 1.4 million square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone,” said Dr Hardman-Mountford. “The strategy also proposes ways to accelerate economic growth through sustainable ocean-based activities. In addition, we are helping Seychelles create opportunities for innovation within the traditional sectors of tourism and fishing. For example, there are companies here using by-products such as fish heads to extract high value fish oils. Others are collecting seaweed to make fertiliser,” he added.
It was the first time Seychelles and the Commonwealth had brought together such a wide range of sectors - public and private - to develop a shared understanding of the blue economy. Departments for the blue economy, environment, energy, tourism, trade and economic planning, investment and entrepreneurship, fisheries, transport and ports as well as foreign affairs were present.
The participants were able to examine current challenges such as capacity constraints, ineligibility for certain development grants, lack of access to the latest fishing technologies and youth employment issues. They also discussed opportunities and assets such as the Seychelles’ healthy banking sector, domestic and foreign investment plus employment services and programmes.
Commonwealth trade expert Sujeevan Perera presented the Commonwealth Small State Trade Financing Facility, which began operation this week in Malta to increase trade finance flows to small states. Seychelles is one of the stakeholders in the Facility.
The Commonwealth’s quantitative analyst, Howard Haughton, offered the country options to navigate barriers such as access to collateral, boosting the participation of micro, small and medium sized businesses in the Blue Economy. The options include Risk-Based Lending, where creditors are financially assessed, Receivable Financing, which involves using contracts and projected income as collateral, and lending that is based on the market value of unsold inventory. Dr Haughton also discussed private venture capital and equity financing.
A Commonwealth Legal Adviser, Rosemarie Cadogan, is managing the roadmap initiative. She said: “Seychelles is clearly committed to protecting and utilising its ocean space in a sustainable manner. Seychelles’ Blue Economy Department Principal Secretary Rose-Marie Bargain, supported by Commonwealth’s former in-country ocean governance expert, Dominique Benzaken, advanced development of the Roadmap; and this week’s launch highlights that implementation is already underway.”
New institutional and financing arrangements, planned investments such as a floating renewable energy plant, greater engagement with communities, and improved education and training opportunities for youth, demonstrate Seychelles’ commitment to ocean-based sustainability and inclusiveness.