United Nations high-level Ocean Conference in New York June 5-9


What the Seychelles delegates say


The twenty-two member delegation from Seychelles who took part in the United Nations high-level Ocean Conference held in New York from June 5-9, met the press last week to talk about the event and outlined the importance of Seychelles’ participation in such a forum where the country was commended for its leading role in oceanic resources management and on the concept of the Blue economy, described as the new frontier. The interview was hosted by Vice-President Vincent Meriton, who led Seychelles’ delegation at the conference.

Seychelles NATION already published the broad aspect of the press conference focusing mainly on the vice-president and on Didier Dogley, Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change. Today we bring you excerpts from all delegates:


Vice-President Meriton:

“It was a moment for the international community to take stock of the necessity to protect this vast frontier which is the ocean. We have to realise the ocean covers three-quarters of the planet area. Our ocean provides half of the oxygen we breathe. Our ocean is responsible for removing a quarter of the carbon dioxide in the air. The ocean connects people and populations. The ocean is a water cycle source and also responsible for changes in climates that occur around the world. So there is a necessity for us to protect it. Seychelles was in great demand at the event. In all the plenary and bilateral sessions, presentations, side events, Seychelles’ presence was important. Each member of the delegation played a formidable role to make sure Seychelles’ presence and the country’s flag fly high.”


Minister Didier Dogley:

“Our presence at the ocean conference was firstly for us to influence the documents and decisions taken there. Secondly it was to make sure we share our experiences and knowledge we are getting on various initiatives going on in Seychelles and also interact with partners on issues concerning the environment or the ocean where they can assist Seychelles in the works it is doing. We did this through presentations of various documents like the one we are working on ‘Call For Action’ which entails the setting up of structures and actions different countries have to take on either national, regional and international levels to protect the ocean.

Compared to other countries who are working on issues regarding the ocean, Seychelles has made huge steps forward. For example the debt-for-conservation swap agreement and the Blue Bonds initiatives to mitigate the effects of climate change, there are many countries who have declared areas they say they will preserve, their system in place is not that comprehensive as ours.


Alain de Commarmond – PS Environment

“The environment came out strong. Everybody agreed we need to put in much more effort to preserve the ocean. This declaration was not just voiced our by conservationists but from fishery, exploration and other such sectors. They have realised the time has come for all of us to give more attention to the ocean. We did not present only the local context but in a global way as we are part of the United Nations Nairobi Convention of which Seychelles holds the presidency.”


Dr Nirmal Shah - CEO Nature Seychelles & Chair of SFA Board

“The conference was not an environment conference. It was a conference in regards to sustainable development goals (SDG) launched two years ago. This SDG conference was the first time in the world where everybody and all world organisations had the chance to plan for the conference. It was something unique. And this conference was held under one of those goals – SDG 14 – which is the ocean. And it was there the importance of the Blue economy was showcased. Regarding SFA we got a lot of information and partnerships with organisations and countries for our fishery sector.”


Dominique Benzaken                       - Commonwealth Adviser, the Blue Economy Research Institute, UniSey

“The conference had an economic, social and environmental dimensions. The conference in New York is focusing on the environment dimension as a way of integrating it into the 17 goals. One of my jobs is to eventually develop a road map on the Blue economy”.


Srdjana Janosevic – The James Michel Foundation

“We are promoting the work former President James Michel is doing to promote the concept of the Blue economy. We interacted with different people and organisations who want to partner with us to finance and develop programmes the foundation is promoting, especially those to do with small businesses in the Blue economy. The conference was a chance to exchange ideas and establish new partnerships.”


Calvin Gerry - Deputy CEO, Seychelles Fishing Authority

“One of the things we are doing is to manage one of our resources where we have our demersal management plan which falls under Marine Spatial Planning. Also things we are experiencing now like illegal fishing, subsidies in fishery – in all how to really manage the resource well.”


Helena Sims -TNC; The Nature Conservancy

“I work on that Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) where our commitment is to protect 30% of oceanic space and our target for the end of the year is 15%. This MSP plan for Seychelles is a big step forward. This conference allowed me to see how other countries plans especially on the socio analysis with one side protection and conservation while not displacing already established businesses in the marine sector.”


Martin Callow - CEO, SEYCAAT Board

“It’s a good work Seychelles has been doing globally. The government a few years ago had the good foresight to create the trust fund which would release the money necessary to perform some marine spatial planning works. We were able to develop some global partnerships with organisations to further catalyse SEYCAAT’s unique model globally.”


Dr Jan Robinson - SWIOFISH 3 / Consultant SFA

“The conference was a great opportunity to engage with people from around the world about their plans in the making to help fishery sector to be more sustainable; to provide a source of fire to the fishery sector to adopt more sustainable practices over the next six years. The conference was great. We met partners around the world to make sure we are meeting the best practice.”


Kelly Hoareau - James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute (UniSey)

“It was a very great opportunity for us to be part of the Seychelles delegation. It was also an opportunity for us to align our research strategy with the needs of the country and also international best practice. And we presented a paper on what is happening in Seychelles in terms of research and we shared opportunities.”


Shariffa Charlette - Representative of Seychellois Youth Aims Hub (an organisation that groups young people interested in the Blue economy).

“I saw the conference very informative and it was a chance for me to bring forward other Seychellois youths’ voice in regards to environment at the international level. It matters for youths to have a voice on issues affecting our islands, our planet and our future.”


Maria Brioche - Teacher chaperoning the 3 students who took part

“There were twelve other countries and 32 children in all representing their countries. The importance of children attending such forum is they are the future generation. They want to make their voices heard; make the leaders hear them to protect this ocean we all depend on.”


Alvania Lawen - Student (Anse Boileau Secondary)

“The importance of the participation of us children from Seychelles and from other countries, was for leaders of the world to sign our pledge which means they agree to protect the ocean. Our presence also showed leaders of the world that we are aware of what’s happening in the ocean and that it is our future so they can take the first step to protect it. It was a proud moment for us all and we felt very important to have been able to get the chance to speak to leaders of the world.”


Jean-Yves Mancienne - Student (Anse Royale Secondary)

“I really loved that experience. It is a chance of a lifetime. We had a good time over there and saw lots of things, especially in that conference where many points were raised with regards to the environment for the future generation.”


Neil Commettant - Student (Beau Vallon Secondary)

“I am very pleased to have got the chance to go to New York. It’s a lifetime opportunity. And also to meet other children who have the same interest as me – to protect the environment. I am more determined to work harder for the environment.”

It is to be noted the children form part of the Eco-school programmes in schools.






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