New policy to help avoid ill effects of development


05-April-2013

Guests and delegates listening to a presentation at the opening session of the workshop

The principal secretary for social affairs Linda William-Melanie said this when she officially launched a four-day workshop at which stakeholders are working on the next population policy under the guidance of Victor Rakoto of United Nations Fund Population Fund at the international conference centre.

“It is high time to make the association between development and the social ills we see around us today. It is time to recognise that development has the potential to positively or negatively impact on our well-being. That is why we must ensure that in the next population policy that is formulated, a national social assessment framework is introduced and implemented to ensure that the negative impacts of development are better mitigated.

“Just like we have measures to protect our environment against the worst form of development, we must now adopt a similar approach to ensure the continued well-being of our population,” she told the delegates.

Mrs William-Melanie noted it is only five years since Seychelles launched the first National Population Policy for Sustainable Development and its accompanying plan of action.

“Our objectives were clear; to put population issues high on government’s agenda, broaden public perception of their importance and thereby adopting a comprehensive national approach-centered on the people – to address the country’s development concerns.

She said we have come a long way in those five years and a number of activities, notably research oriented, have been completed to provide evidence-based information to policy makers.

She said the workshop has been organised to upgrade local knowledge and familiarise the delegates with emerging issues as there are a number of challenges that still need to be addressed.

“We have managed to raise awareness on the need to integrate population factors into development, but we still lack the framework and at times expertise to ensure that this is done in a systematic fashion.”

She told representatives of various ministries and non-governmental agencies they have an important role to play in the formulation of the next policy.
“You know the challenges that you encounter on a daily basis at your level. Our aim in inviting you to this training is to ensure that you make the connections between the issues and see beyond the numbers.

“Whether it is in terms of land and housing development and allocation, water catchment, supply of electricity or generation of renewable energy, we have to ensure that the type of development that we are promoting remains people-centered and is most of all sustainable. We should not only consider population projections when we conceptualise, plan and finalise our projects.

“We should also ensure that the values, beliefs and lifestyles of our men, women, children, elderly and our disabled are also taken into consideration. We have to ensure that development is much more than acquiring material goods and possessions but that it becomes a process of empowerment, that promotes gender equality, that allows our population to rejoice in their human rights, that protects the rights of our children, that integrates our disabled brothers and sisters into society and ensures that our elderly continues to live in dignity and comfort.”
Mrs William-Melanie said this is the vision of development that the government has promoted during the past 35 years.

“Our challenge in this day and age is to ensure that in the face of globalisation and modernity, we remain faithful to those ideals which have benefitted so much of our people. In many instances, the vision has been translated into reality but the complexities of the present time demands that we now adopt a more systematic and coordinated approach when we are talking about development.”

She noted that in 2011 President James Michel initiated a National Dialogue that has resulted in the formulation and implementation of a Social Renaissance Plan of Action which tells us that we need to address our social challenges.

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