Seychelles urged to keep global emission fight lead


26-April-2013

Minister Munaaba opening the meeting

Experts addressing a major conference for journalists meeting in Uganda said this yesterday noting that negotiations with major polluters are difficult and every voice in the global call for emission cuts counts a lot.

They commended President James Michel’s key and global role especially in championing the cause for small island states which face the worst consequences of climate change.

The Common Market for East and Central Africa’s (Comesa) climate change adviser Dr Mclay Kanyangarara told the delegates that members of parliament from the region who met in Seychelles last October established clear links between global peace and security with climate change and called for continued efforts in the global campaign.

The MPs noted that many conflicts around the world have links with climate change especially as communities fight over declining resources like water.

Some of the delegates during the opening session (Photo by G.T.)

“Other conflicts are arising as people displaced by disasters seek alternative homes,” he told the delegates, shocking many by saying entire populations of certain low-lying island nations will have to migrate to other countries when the sea predictably submerges their homes.

“Seychelles might be small but it can teach its continental neighbours and indeed the world quite a few things,” said Dr Kanyangarara.
“In Seychelles they start learning about environmental conservation and climate change at crèche level,” he told the Kampala meeting, which was officially launched by Uganda’s Environment and Water Minister Flavia Munaaba.

“We found that Seychelles is quite advanced in climate change awareness at the national level. We were pleasantly surprised to see environment education and climate change awareness have been mainstreamed in the education system, ” he said in an interview with Nation later, singling out the efforts of the team led by the director general in the public education and community outreach division of the environment department, Jeanette Larue, while other experts also hailed the efforts of the Seychelles electronic and print media for supporting the efforts.

“In terms of peoples’ awareness and preparedness to deal with issues of climate change the people of Seychelles are very well positioned.”

He said it is obvious by looking at people living here that they do not suffer the health effects of pollution which he told the delegates is minimal.

“During our last meeting there the Comesa nation parliamentarians were able to learn what is happening in Seychelles. There’s quite a vibrant democracy and vibrant debate, for example in passing laws that are fair and equitable.

“The voices of the people are heard and this is something citizens of that country is an example of the many good things Seychellois do not talk about so much but when you are there you find out for yourself.”

Dr Kanyangarara told the delegates that although we are doing so much at the national level, effects of climate change like sea level rise and strong winds “which result in parts of pristine beaches being washed away, are endangering our key tourism industry while temperature increases are threatening fisheries, our second pillar of the economy.”

“Once a beach goes it has gone so we must keep up the fight,” he said.
Comesa has invited the journalists to the meeting so that it can rope them in the global campaign against climate change. All Indian Ocean nations are represented at the forum.
Minister Munaaba said climate change is directly related to people’s lives and commended Comesa for organising the meeting, noting “the media are important and nobody can afford to ignore them in such efforts”.

“Although Comesa is primarily known to be concerned with trade, the organisation recognised some time back that climate change is also a trade, human rights and agricultural issue,” she said, commending the organisation for having been able to mobilise US $100 million for its climate change combat efforts.

Seychelles is represented at the meeting by George Thande of the National Information Services Agency.

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