Government tackling barriers to climate change adaptation


Mr Agricole addressing delegates at the opening of the workshop yesterdayAccording to the principal secretary for Environment and Energy, Wills Agricole, this multi-level context presents formidable challenges to policymakers and administrators setting strategies for climate change adaptation compatible with large-scale climate problems.

Mr Agricole’s comments emerged at a workshop on climate adaptation governance in Seychelles organised by the Ministry of Environment and Energy together with Caribsave, a non-profit organisation that works with stakeholders to address the impacts and challenges surrounding climate change across the Caribbean Basin.

The workshop, held yesterday at the Seychelles Trading Company’s conference room, presented a unique opportunity to foster discussions and share experiences about the implementation of climate change adaptation initiatives in Seychelles for the fisheries, agriculture and tourism sectors.

The UK-funded Global Islands Vulnerability Research, Adaptation, Policy and Development Project (GIVRAPD) in collaboration with the Seychelles Meteorological Services is undertaking a two-year research project on community adaptation to climate change in four Small Island Developing States (Sids) in the Caribbean (St Lucia and Jamaica) and the Indian Ocean (Mauritius and Seychelles).

It is a comparative study of four small coastal communities facing similar challenges and contexts, and hopes to provide insights that could be applied to other small island states.

“As you know, the vast majority of Seychelles’ infrastructure, habitation, the seat of government and administrative agencies are located on the narrow coastal plains on the three main islands. The concentration of people, socio-economic activities and infrastructure on this narrow coastal strip all translate into special challenges implying particularly huge vulnerabilities, risks and exposed to weather and other climate hazards,” said Mr Agricole.

With this in mind, Seychelles has been a leader in environmental conservation and protection and has integrated mainstream climate adaptation at an early stage to avoid the cost of being substantial in the future as weather and climate events will affect many of our people, our crucial economic activities and livelihoods. This workshop was therefore essential, Mr Agricole said, to raise awareness of all the relevant stakeholders on climate change adaptation issues, particularly the district authorities.
“Our communities are the first to be affected whenever there is a change in our weather or climate. We know for example that the district authorities are also usually the first to be contacted by the people in the community when they are affected with problems related to weather, climate, water and disaster. This was evidently clear during the disaster of January 27-28, 2013. It is therefore crucial for the community leaders to understand the causes and effects of these changes and how best they can help their communities to mitigate or to adapt to it.

Dr Murray Simpson, chief executive of Caribsave, said the research project was critical not only for Seychelles but for the exchange of knowledge and interaction between the four countries involved in the GIVRAPD project.

Delegates working in groups after the opening ceremony

“Without this exchange of knowledge and cooperation across regions and countries, climate change will continue to have an insidious effect on the people in the southern regions of the world especially, who are the most vulnerable.”

Mr Agricole said that the GIVRAPD project would be conducted in close collaboration with local communities and policy partners. The La Digue and Anse Royale districts were chosen as the community learning sites for the community-based vulnerability assessments because of their good selection of various sectors, from agriculture to fishing, tourism and business in a small community, which were easy to move around in and interview large numbers of people.