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Opinion

The Ocean Offers Rich Solutions for Climate Change

Wavel Ramkalawan, President of the Republic of Seychelles. Credit: United Nations

VICTORIA, Seychelles, Sep 21 2023 (IPS) - For the people of Seychelles, the ocean is more than just a source of livelihood. It is also a way of life. About 80% of our homes and infrastructure are located along the coast and those homes and infrastructures are impacted by the ocean in various ways.

We depend on our ocean and we need to figure out how to make this relationship work. The relationship I believe should be reciprocal where we continue to understand our actions towards our ocean and eventually what our oceans can do for us.

As one of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), we face a unique set of vulnerabilities that impede our ability to achieve sustainable development.

Structural factors, including our size, remoteness, limited resource base, market size, exposure to climate risks and natural disasters, influence socio economic outcomes and our ability to achieve the SDGs.

Coordinated international actions, including dedicated international financing mechanisms, are needed to address the vulnerabilities of the SIDS.

The main threats facing Seychelles and other small island developing states are credited to climate change. These include: changes in rainfall patterns leading to flooding or drought, increase in sea temperature, changes in acidity and damage to marine ecosystems, increase in storms and storm surges and sea level rise to name a few.

In order to counter these global threats, a collaborative approach is needed, particularly where mitigation and adaptation efforts are concerned. One key driver to assist in the fight against these threats is how we collaboratively manage our ocean.

The ocean must be a key piece of this collective action. It is our planet’s greatest connector and offers solutions to reducing emissions, addressing vulnerability, and building resilience.

The issues that SIDS faces today require innovative solutions pushing us to rethink the way we go about our daily activities. Major climate change actions are required in terms of where and how we focus our finite resources, especially our ocean resources.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are suffering the consequences and the cost of human-induced climate change and yet we are the least responsible for these.

A recent report commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel) found that climate solutions from the ocean can deliver up to 35% of the annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emission cuts needed in 2050 to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C.

This is based on solutions that are ready-to-implement now, not future solutions we may achieve if the technology catches up. The world cannot fail in finding solutions to this global crisis. The major actors need to step-up and play a more significant role in the development of innovative solutions that will allow small islands state to survive.

If not addressed, economic activity within the Seychelles will be diminished, lost beneath the rising tides, along with the coral islands of the archipelago that make up our Republic.

From the people on the front line of this crisis, our message is simple: We must act now.

As SDG 14, the ocean goal, remains the least funded of all the SDGs, investments must also increase significantly. The Ocean Panel report estimates that fulfilling the ocean’s potential in emissions reductions will require a global trajectory towards US$2 trillion of targeted investment into sustainable ocean solutions between 2030 and 2050.

As an island state, the Seychelles has been resilient in its approach and has taken numerous steps to deal with the different challenges brought about by climate change and other ocean related matters.

This month, the Seychelles became the 18th member of the Ocean Panel. I’m proud to be joining like-minded nations in shaping policies and initiatives that protect the world’s oceans, foster sustainable economic growth and advance climate action to ensure the well-being of our citizens and future generations.

While our nation may be modest in size, we are custodians of a significant portion of the Western Indian Ocean. Often described as “a small island state but a large oceanic state,” the Seychelles holds a treasure trove of marine resources and ecosystems. And we are utilizing these resources to ensure a healthy ocean for people, nature, and climate.

Efforts include launching the world’s first Sovereign Blue bond with the World Bank which acts as a pioneering financial instrument designed to support and transition to sustainable marine and fisheries projects.

This combined public and private investment to mobilize resources to empower local communities and businesses alike. It supports island and coastal nations to use debt solutions to create long-term sustainable financing that can help protect 30% of our global ocean while achieving sustainable economic development and adapting to climate change.

We also prioritize ocean literacy and awareness in schools, to engage young people in the significance and myriad benefits that the ocean brings. This helps to strengthen our nation’s own connection with the ocean but also contributes to a global conversation on the importance of preserving this invaluable resource.

Moreover, the challenges we face know no borders, which is why collaboration with our neighbors and those around the world is so critical. The Joint Management Area shared with Mauritius, not only promotes ecological harmony but also underscores the profound potential for nations to unite in safeguarding our oceans while reaping the benefits of shared resources for generations to come.

In joining the Ocean Panel, we take collaboration even further, joining a common vision for the protection and sustainable development of our oceans. Together, we can work towards the responsible utilization of marine resources, help stabilize the climate, generate sustainable ocean revenue that bolsters economic growth and safeguard marine ecosystems.

This will help the Seychelles to both strengthen our own ocean management capabilities and also contribute significantly to the global effort of allowing our oceans to thrive and prosper.

As COP28 approaches, I urge leaders around the world to look to the ocean to drive the much-needed ‘course correction’. Hope lies in the ocean’s ready-to-action solutions and opportunities to work across borders, and by doing so, to steer the world away from a catastrophic future.

IPS UN Bureau

 


  
 
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