Sids must benefit from innovative financing


Access to sustainable financing remains the biggest challenge facing small islands developing states which should benefit from innovative financing at low interest rates.  

Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Didier Dogley said this when he addressed delegates at the 13th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) which is taking place in Ordos, China. 

Minister Dogley is accompanied by Nanette Laure, director general for waste enforcement, permit and standard, as well as and John Quilindo, principal forestry officer. The conference’s theme is ‘Combating Desertification for Human Well-being’.

The UNCCD is one of three conventions that came to existence in 1992 after the first global conference on sustainable development, more commonly known as the Rio Summit.  The other two global environment conventions are the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The COP of the UNCCD takes place every two years and it is the highest decision-making organ of the convention. 

During the two-day conference, there were high level segment meetings for ministers and other high level government officers.

Apart from its main focus on desertification the UNCCD also put emphasis on land degradation, a phenomenon, which affects the productivity and fertility of land in all countries of the world. 

This particular conference stressed the need for countries to achieve land degradation neutrality as a means to meet the sustainable development goals, eliminating poverty and creating wealth.

On Tuesday morning at a meeting specifically organised for small island states, Minister Dogley took the floor to share the Seychelles experience and at the same time highlight the challenges faced by small islands developing states (Sids) to address land degradation.

Minister Dogley said in Sids, land degradation is caused by various factors such as soil erosion and contamination, pronounced drought, forest fires, poor agricultural and forestry practices, invasive species, extreme rainfall and storm events, salt water intrusion and the adverse effects of climate change. 

“Small islands remain very vulnerable to most of these factors in particular the adverse effects of climate change,” said Minister Dogley, before stressing the need for land degradation to be addressed in a compressive manner because what happens on the hillside also affects the environment and livelihood further downstream and on the coast. 

“This is why the ridge to reef approach remains the best approach for small island states,” he said.

The minister also pointed out that access to sustainable financing remains the biggest challenge facing Sids.

“Today, most Sids have qualified as middle income countries and do not qualify for concessionary financing. If we are to address land management issues to meet the sustainable development goals and tackle poverty, Sids must have access to innovative financing at low interest rates. Such innovative financing can take the form of the blue bond that Seychelles has initiated with the World Bank and GEF for ocean governance, the management of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and sustaining livelihood,” he said.

Furthermore, Minister Dogley spoke lengthily about the need for capacity building, the strengthening of institutions, the training of key personnel in land use planning, water management, soil and ecosystem sciences and data management among others. 

This, he added, underscores the need for decision making to be informed and underpinned by science.

In closing, he also requested for the creation of a database to promote best practices in Sids and other countries, which will help member states in getting access to information on transformative projects that have worked. 

These could be domesticated and implemented according to the needs of the particular country.

The UNCCD 13th conference of parties ends on Saturday September 16, 2017.




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