Third regional technical workshop on the WIO-CC-Glispa to launch WIO-CC at third UNSids


 Prof Payet addressing delegates at the opening of the workshop

Environment and Energy Minister Rolph Payet said this yesterday morning when he addressed delegates at the start of the two-day third regional technical workshop on the WIO-CC taking place at the Seychelles Trading Company’s conference room.

Professor Payet noted that this will showcase the leadership by island countries and coastal East African countries bordering the Western Indian Ocean in taking action to advance sustainable development through collaborative partnerships.

“This high level event presents an opportunity to bring together high level representatives of the early champion countries of the WIO-CC to profile their commitment to action and catalyse the resources necessary to achieve the vision through the official launch of the WIO-CC,” said Minister Payet.

He added that Ronny Jumeau, roving ambassador for climate change and small island developing states issues as well as the permanent mission of Seychelles to the United Nations, and Wills Agricole, the principal secretary for environment and energy, who is also the president of the WIO-CC, are touring the region to meet representatives of potential early WIO-CC champion countries to explore interest in the launch in Samoa next year.

So far, Mauritius has joined Seychelles in the bid to launch the WIO-CC at the Sids conference in Samoa and it is hoped that Zanzibar and Tanzania will get on board too.

"We are all stakeholders in the Western Indian Ocean future climate. It is to the benefit of all of us to come together, to better understand the serious challenges of climate change in order to adapt to it, and to prevent and mitigate any adverse impact, particularly the developmental aspirations and survival of our countries as we are the most vulnerable, because the future cost of inaction to protect the climate is expected to exceed by far the cost of timely action. Hence, through WIO-CC, these challenges could be overcome and the western Indian Ocean region could become an example to the world on how to integrate climate change adaptation, ecosystem management, biodiversity conservation, clean energy for sustainable livelihoods and development,” noted Minister Payet.

Mr Agricole said that “climate change poses the greatest modern threat to our sovereignties, thus directly compromising the future and survival ability of our islands, coastal countries of the WIO and its people. Never before, we are faced with such a paramount challenge”.

He added that this is what prompted President James Michel to come up, in 2007, with the WIO-CC initiative which targets biodiversity conservation and sustainable development goals, but climate change significantly impacts the ability to reach these goals.

Mr Agricole pointed out that since then mobilisation at the western Indian Ocean country level started with the support of the Indian Ocean Commission ‘Islands’ project culminating in a 20-year vision at the first technical meeting in Seychelles in March 2012. This was followed seven months later by the second regional technical meeting in October 2012 in Mauritius resulting in a declaration outlining the next steps to achieve the long-term vision and plan of action.

As the delegates gather to determine a roadmap among other objectives to officially launch the WIO-CC at UNSids, Mr Agricole reminded them that “climate change is not only an environment issue but is also an economic issue as it stretches beyond borders with concerning consequences if not dealt with effectively and soon”.

“The negative impacts of climate change can cause a nation into a great state of dire along with its citizens, especially women and children. This is what happened in Seychelles early this year when our government had to declare a state of emergency over three main districts along the east coast of Mahé as the greater part of the area was fully inundated by severe floods caused by torrential rains emanating from a tropical cyclone which paralysed our socio-economic activities,” he added.

The WIO-CC has been created to bring our combined efforts to build climate change resilience so our grandchildren and future generation can still call these coastal countries home.

Delegates and guests in a souvenir photograph after the opening ceremony yesterday

Its aim is to mobilise countries to come together and commit to island conservation and sustainable livelihoods, including by responding to the threat posed by climate change over the next 20 years. Focused on marine and coastal zones, the challenge is set to build on efforts of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and Nairobi Convention.

Delegates from Seychelles, Mauritius, Kenya, Micronesia, Zanzibar, Tanzania, France/Reunion, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, Australia, the European Union, the Indian Ocean Commission, the United Nations Development Programme among others are assessing the progress and determining a plan of action to make the WIO-CC operational.

They will review the progress on the second WIO-CC regional technical meeting declaration; identify lessons from other initiatives and partnerships in the WIO-CC path towards launch; make significant progress in defining the targets and potential commitments for the WIO-CC and a process for joining the WIO-CC at a high political level; determine process to support WIO-CC including resource mobilisation, sustainable finance approaches and governance components; and determine a plan of action to launch the WIO-CC at UNSids 2014.

Ambassador Jumeau said Glispa, co-chaired by President Michel, President Johnson Toribiong of Palau and, since Rio+20, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas of Grenada, does not finance projects, but matches projects with potential donors.

He added that the WIO-CC “allows island and coastal countries of the western Indian Ocean to come together to look at their plans and objectives concerning maritime coastal diversity in a holistic way within the context of defining sustainable development”.

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