President Faure decorated in active and fruitful year | 31 December 2019
The year 2019 has been a successful one for President Danny Faure who, during his many overseas assignments, has been the voice for many on ocean protection, the fight against climate change, pollution and other threats to the environment, the plight of small islands developing states, conserving the “beating blue heart of our planet” and governance links across the sustainable development goals.
‘Planetary and Leadership Award’
In June, President Faure accepted the National Geographic Society’s prestigious ‘Planetary and Leadership Award’ at the National Geographic Awards ceremony at the George Washington University, in Washington DC, USA.
President Faure shared the award with former President James Michel, who also attended the event.
The award recognises a world leader who has successfully established globally significant protected areas, such as national parks, wilderness areas, or marine reserves, that are fully shielded from exploitation.
In his acceptance speech, President Faure said that environmental conservation has been key for Seychelles for a long time, and also has ethical importance. He added that the award from the National Geographic Society is a testament to the achievements of the country to date.
"Seychelles is a champion of environmental conservation, because we believe in it. Since 1977, we have been convinced that protecting our environment is not just the right thing to do, but the necessary thing to do. With this award, the National Geographic Society is acknowledging the work we have done, and it is a powerful, emotional recognition of the longstanding vision of Seychelles and our journey so far, for me to be on this stage today," said President Faure.
He dedicated the award to the people of Seychelles, saying that Seychellois citizens have a strong connection with nature and remain committed to successfully protecting and preserving the environment. He advised people and countries around the world to do the same.
Recipient of Ocean Heritage Award
A month later, (in July), he was awarded the Ocean Heritage Award by the Shark Research Institute. The award was handed over to the President by Dr David Rowat, chairman of the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles (MCSS), the official representative of the Shark Research Institute in Seychelles. Shark Research Institute is based in New Jersey, USA and is an international organisation.
The executive of the Shark Research Institute awarded President Faure the Ocean Heritage Award for implementing the first phase of the extension of Marine Protected areas to the goal of 30% of Seychelles’ Exclusive Economic Zone, and for his continued campaign to conserve the “beating blue heart of our planet”.
“This award is only given to heads of state who have made truly outstanding contributions to the health of the ocean, for their work in protecting sharks and the marine habitat, and in the hope that their leadership encourages other nations to follow suit,” noted Dr Rowat.
There have been only two previous recipients of the Shark Research Institute’s Ocean Heritage Award – Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines (in 2008) and Johnson Toribiong, President of the Republic of Palau (in 2010).
‘Secure and sustainable future for Seychelles’
When addressing world leaders on Wednesday September 25 at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly’s heads of states and governments debate at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America, President Faure stressed on the drive of Seychelles as a small island nation towards the goal of a secure and sustainable future for its nation.
His address also laid emphasis on other salient topics such as climate action and the plight of small island developing states vis-à-vis the multilateral international order.
“More than most, island nations must have faith in the multilateral international order. We are by nature isolated and by design, our livelihoods are tied to the rest of the world. We rely heavily on this premise as well as on the actions or inactions of others for our very survival.
“Climate change has become an existential threat not only to the lives of people in island states, but the world as a whole. It is clear that we are no longer in a position to indiscriminately plunder under the guise of development for the sake of short-term profits. I am aware that development has lifted our people from poverty, but through exploitation we are dooming future generations to a planet beyond their ability to repair,” said President Faure.
President Faure also highlighted the underpinning role of the stance taken by the youths not only as the future generations but the crucial role they can further play in advancing the plight of climate change.
“Fortunately, young people around the world have taken a stand to secure their future. In Seychelles, we are seeing youth-led NGOs partnering with government to prioritise the fight against climate change, pollution and other threats to the environment. Youth-led grassroots movement led to a ban on many single-use plastics, and continue to advocate for ocean protection.
“To us islanders, the ocean represents not only our livelihood but also a way of life. The Seychellois people are bound to the sea and are cognisant of the untapped opportunities that it presents. Our pioneering development of the blue economy has the potential to unlock multiplier effects, which will increase economic opportunities while equally protecting the ocean for generations to come. In our view, the ocean is the last frontier – if used responsibly it will lead to shared prosperity, food security and innovation,” added President Faure.
In relation to Ocean Climate Action, the president further pledged that Seychelles will remain at the forefront of the discourse on climate change and in further ensuring as citizens of the world we continue to be guardians of two-thirds of the common blue planet – the Ocean.
“The deep ocean is the beating heart of the planet, yet we have better maps of Mars than we do of the ocean floor. This needs to change, as we gather the information available to identify priority areas for protection. This information should be used to take concrete action to preserve our oceans, extending beyond national jurisdictions. This is a global issue, and so it needs a global approach.
“Seychelles is 100% committed to the ongoing work by the United Nations to develop a legally binding framework to conserve our oceans, in areas outside national borders. If we want to survive, this is the only way forward. We anticipate a transparent and inclusive instrument that offers due recognition of our special circumstance as a SIDS and an adjacent coastal state. This implies including appropriate mechanisms for benefit sharing, capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.
“Earlier this year, Seychelles partnered with the Nekton Mission and University of Oxford to conduct research in a bid to conserve our maritime spaces and the Indian Ocean. In April this year, I was proud to deliver a speech broadcasted live from 407 feet below ocean surface, calling for greater worldwide effort to protect the beating blue heart of our planet: our oceans. But the novelty of the event should not overshadow the message: safeguarding the oceans and marine life from climate change, overfishing, plastic pollution and other threats is an urgent, global responsibility,” noted President Faure.
Meanwhile, in his article entitled ‘Global Leaders Missed a Crucial Chance to Propel the SDGs, Especially on Good Governance’ published on October 7, 2019, A. Edward Elmendorf pointed out that President Faure was a lone voice in reinforcing governance links across the sustainable development goals, saying that “governance is the key means of implementation” of the SDGs.
Addressing climate change with ambitious ocean climate action
On the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Faure attended the Blue Leaders Breakfast event where he addressed fellow ocean leaders on the urgency of ocean conservation as part of climate change actions.
“The world cannot succeed in addressing climate change without ambitious ocean climate action. We cannot ensure the health, resilience, sustainability and productivity of the ocean without immediate and aggressive measures to combat the climate crisis,” said President Faure.
The event coincided with the release of Summary Findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the ocean and the cryosphere linked to the COP25 to be held in Chile in December 2019.
President Faure also highlighted actions undertaken by Seychelles committed to ocean action and already as a leader in nature, ecosystem-based solutions and adaptation to climate change.
“As part of our effort to lead the world in boosting ocean health, resilience, sustainability and climate action, Seychelles will have committed 30% of its EEZ to marine protection by next year, meeting the 30-by-30 target of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030 a decade early,” he said.
President Faure emphasised on specific examples of Seychelles nationally determined contribution (ND) for 2020 focused on the protection of the marine environment and ecosystems.
“Our NDC for 2020 will have a chapter dedicated to ocean climate action and blue carbon ecosystems, looking at sea grass, mangroves and coral reefs is one of the most effective carbon sinks in Seychelles’ vast exclusive economic zone of 1.4 million square kilometres,” added the President.
President Faure meets founder and chair of Waitt Foundation and Waitt Institute
While in New York, President Faure met Ted Waitt, the founder and chairman of the Waitt Foundation and Waitt Institute.
The meeting was an opportunity for President Faure to formally express the appreciation of the government and people of Seychelles for the various contributions made by the Waitt Foundation and Waitt Institute particularly towards the successful implementation of the Seychelles Debt swap.
“Together with the blue bonds, the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCATT), which manages the proceeds of the debt swap, is now offering around USD750,000 in grants a year to Seychellois citizens for sustainable marine activities. These include youth, women and scientists,” said President Faure who also expressed the country’s gratitude to the Waitt Foundation for having financially supported the National Geographic Society’s Pristine Seas Expedition to its southern waters in 2015.
“The expedition helped provide the Seychelles government with scientific justification for increasing the protected area around Aldabra as part of the 30% of marine protected areas under the debt swap,” added President Faure.
Seychelles commits to nationally determined contribution to Paris Agreement
President Faure attended the official opening of the United Nations 2019 Climate Action Summit convened by the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday September 23 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America.
The summit, convened under the theme ‘Climate Action Summit 2019: A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win’, focused on mobilising political and economic energy at the highest levels towards the advancement of climate action. This will in return enable the further implementation of goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
When he addressed the assembly, President Faure shared some of the key national efforts being undertaken by Seychelles in line with the National Determined Contributions (NDC) as well as other national resilience strategies contributing towards environment protection as a large ocean state.
“We have an exclusive economic zone of 1.4 million square kilometres which is 3,000 times the size of our islands. The highlights of our revised NDC will, therefore, be a whole chapter dedicated to ocean climate action and blue carbon as nature-based solutions to climate change.
“Seychelles already protects 26% of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), an area the size of Germany, and we will increase it to 30% next year, meeting the 30-by-30 target of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030 a decade early,” said President Faure.
He also stressed and explained the projected transformational change expected in line with Seychelles’ renewables.
“Seychelles will aim for a transformational change from a target of 15% renewables by 2030 in its current NDC to a strategy for 100% in keeping with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) special report on global warming of 1.5° Celsius. We will build institutional capacity to achieve energy self-sufficiency and security through renewable energy, energy efficiency and green transport,” said President Faure.
Aside from the summit, the President on the same day also attended the high-level side-event hosted by United States President Donald Trump entitled: ‘Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom’ also held at the United Nations headquarters.
Call on UN chief Guterres
On Thursday June 14, President Danny Faure called on the secretary general of the United Nations, António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, at the UN headquarters in New York.
Their meeting primarily focused on Seychelles' leadership on ocean conservation and the Blue economy.
The secretary general expressed “great admiration” for Seychelles’ leadership in sustainable development and governance, which he said was an example for the region and the world.
The two men agreed Seychelles and the United Nations system shared a “very strong” relationship and discussed the lead up to the much-anticipated Climate Action Summit which the UN secretary general would host in New York on September 23.
President Faure informed Mr Guterres that Seychelles is well on track to protect 30 percent of its 1.4-million-square-kilometre maritime territory by February of 2020, thereby achieving the 30x30 target a decade early.
President Faure presented the secretary general with a copy of the Seychelles Coastal Management Plan 2019-2024 which was drawn up in partnership with the World Bank and addresses such climate change effects on the islands as coastal erosion and flooding among other challenges.
The two men also discussed marine pollution, especially the scourge of ocean plastic.
The president sought the help of the UN system in his role as the African Union’s champion for the development of the Blue economy in Africa.
President Faure expressed the need to couple ocean conservancy and governance with maritime security and stressed the commended assistance by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in countering drug trafficking in the western Indian Ocean.
Secretary general Guterres commended Seychelles on its leadership as a champion of ocean conservancy and the Blue economy and expressed his desire that President Faure attends the Climate Action Summit.
First meeting of the Indian Ocean Summit steering committee
On Tuesday October 22, President Faure attended the first meeting of the steering committee for the Indian Ocean Summit at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
The Indian Ocean Summit is set to take place in 2022 and it seeks to bring together international and regional leadership to secure 30% marine protection by 2030 in the Indian Ocean region.
President Faure expressed how Seychelles is an example of how size does not constrain capabilities or innovations, and would continue to support Nekton and champion marine protection.
Following the meeting, President Faure attended a lecture at the Royal Geographical Society, where Nekton presented some of its initial research findings. The data analysis is ongoing. Seychellois scientist Sheena Talma also had the opportunity to share her experiences with The Aldabra Clean-Up Project and the Nekton Expedition to the audience.
President Faure expressed his thanks to Nekton and all partners for making the expedition possible, and urged those present to continue the fight to protect the ocean.
Need to increase contributions to the Green Climate Fund
President Faure also discussed the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund, the world’s leading financial institution helping developing countries address climate change, with its executive director Yannick Glemarec.
The Green Climate Fund (GCF) has, over its first five years, committed US $5 billion to 102 projects in 97 developing countries which will mitigate more than 1.5 billion tonnes of emissions in CO2 equivalent, and improve the resilience of 276 million people in vulnerable countries.
Meeting in New York, President Faure and Mr Glemarec discussed the need for developed countries to at least double their contributions to the fund to meet the challenges of keeping the increase in temperature to below 1.5 degrees Celsius as demanded by science if the world is to avoid a climate catastrophe.
The president commended Germany and Norway for leading by example by pledging to double their contributions to the fund.
Mr Faure and Mr Glemarec also exchanged ideas on ways to further streamline the management and governance of the GCF. Of particular interest to the president was the need to further simplify access to funds especially for small island developing states (Sids), least developed countries (LDCS) and countries in Africa constrained by limited resources and speed up delivery of funds for projects.
‘Ocean and marine protection is a collective world effort’
Invited by the Irish government to take part in the Our Ocean Wealth Summit and SeaFest, Ireland’s largest maritime festival, President Faure reminded delegates that ocean and marine protection is a collective world effort and everyone has their role to play.
"Safeguarding the oceans and marine life from climate change, acidification, overfishing, deep-sea mining, plastic pollution and other threats is a global responsibility. Much of the world’s food and half of the oxygen we breathe come from ocean waters. The ocean is also the largest active carbon sink on earth, absorbing more than 25% of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Allowing their continued abuse is unacceptable," said President Faure.
The SeaFest coincided with World Oceans Day and government representatives and ambassadors from 31 countries from the Pacific, Caribbean and African coasts who are facing significant challenges from climate change gathered in Cork for the event.
While in Ireland, President Faure paid a courtesy call on Irish President Michael D. Higgins, at the Presidential Palace in Dublin.
President Higgins congratulated President Faure for his deep dive address on ocean protection and for being nominated, along with former President James Michel, for the National Geographic Planetary Leadership award.
And during a reception hosted by the Deputy Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brendan Rogers, President Faure met Seychellois students who are studying at the Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland.
He thanked the students for their presence and took the opportunity to highlight the strong ties that exist between Seychelles and Ireland which can be further cemented, for example in the field of education.
On Saturday August 17, President Faure joined other heads of State and government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for the official opening ceremony of the 39thOrdinary SADC Summit held at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
During the summit heads of State and government of SADC countries discussed ways of advancing integration and sustainable development in the region guided by the banner theme for this year ‘A Conducive Business Environment for Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, Increased Intra-Regional Trade and Job Creation’.
During his intervention on maritime security, President Faure raised the attention of member states on challenges being faced by countries in the Western part of the Indian Ocean.
He urged the African leaders to adopt a more proactive strategy and to collectively find common solutions to address the rising maritime security challenges and secure the region.
“Our challenge today is not only to look at security challenges on the continent but the maritime space that we share. As an oceanic state, economic activities in our EEZ and in the international waters around us, relating mostly to transportation, fisheries and tourism, contribute towards 44% of our GDP,” said President Faure.
During his intervention, the President highlighted how the scourge of piracy has for the past years affected and threatened the livelihoods and economic activities of countries in this region and why further collective commitment and immediate action is critical.
“Towards the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, the Indian Ocean and the Eastern Coast of Africa were plagued by a series of piracy attacks, which threatened to cut global shipment of goods and the safety of maritime activities in this region. It was thanks to a regional and global effort, that we were able to raise awareness and develop a strategy that could control the growth and spread of piracy in our region. Today, Seychelles and her neighbours, including many of you here, continue to invest millions in order to protect our territorial waters and the economic livelihood of our countries.
“Sadly, as we seem to be putting one crisis under control, others continue to emerge, albeit more subtly. There is growing number of other illicit activities such as drug and human trafficking in our EEZ, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing; and the poaching of our marine resources including fish and other sea products and greater conditions for terrorist activities to manifest. For these, we need to find common solutions,” said President Faure.
Meanwhile, during the closed session of the Summit held at the Tanzania State House in the afternoon, President Faure thanked Tanzania for choosing a theme that depicts the continuity and progress of the journey together as the SADC family and for providing a fresh perspective on the SADC mandate as an organisation focused on development and growth.
Yokohama welcomes African heads of state, business leaders to share experience, discuss cooperation
In August, President Faure attended the TICAD 7 in Yokohama, Japan.
TICAD has become an important component in Japan's commitment to foster peace, stability, technological development and entrepreneurship in Africa.
The largest international conference to be held in Japan took place under the theme ‘Africa and Yokohama, Sharing Passion for the Future’.
As Africa experiences dynamic growth, through the conference Yokohama shared its vast experience and technologies to help resolve urban issues on the African continent.
Meeting with Prince William at Buckingham Palace
In October, President Faure took part in a series of meetings in London and Oxford as part of his working visit to the United Kingdom.
On Tuesday October 22, he met His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, at Buckingham Palace in London, United Kingdom.
The president was able to share with Prince William the great progress that Seychelles has made in ocean governance and marine protection.
The Duke of Cambridge was particularly keen to hear more about the Nekton expedition and ongoing research by the scientists, following the exploration that took place in Seychelles in March this year and the president’s message to citizens of the world.
Prince William shared with the president his passion for environmental protection, and his personal connection to Seychelles given his previous visits. He commended Seychelles for its global leadership in climate action.
While in London, President Faure met Patricia Scotland, Baroness of Asthal PC QC and secretary general of the Commonwealth who commended Seychelles for its leadership across the world and across the Commonwealth in ocean conservation and climate action.
The president also met with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and his discussion focused on the progress of Seychelles in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), and how the country can further improve its ranking. In the IIAG, country performance in delivering governance is measured across four categories.
Meeting Nathalie Delapalme, the executive director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, President Faure was able to assess the consistent improvement in overall governance scores in Seychelles over the last 10 years, and the areas that need to be further strengthened.
The executive director was keen to emphasise that only 15 countries have shown increasing progress in this score, and that Seychelles is higher than the African average in all categories.
The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is an African foundation established in 2006 with the sole focus of defining, assessing and enhancing governance and leadership in Africa. It is well-known for its IIAG.
President Faure also visited Oxford, where he was met by Dr Lindsay Turnbull, Associate Professor at Oxford and a trustee of Seychelles Island Foundation (SIF) and a Fellow of The Queen’s College.
Students from The Queen's College together with Seychellois volunteers led an expedition to Aldabra to remove tonnes of plastic litter from its shores earlier this year. The clean-up expedition was launched by President Faure in June.
President Faure also stopped by the Nekton Headquarters in Oxford, where he met the chief executive of Nekton, Oliver Steeds, and scientists who were part of the expedition to Seychelles.
He was also invited to deliver a lecture at the University of Oxford, a first for Seychelles, and he spoke on Seychelles’ experience with ocean governance and innovation.
After the lecture, the president also took part in a Q&A session hosted by the African Studies Centre at the University. During the session, members of the audience were able to ask him a wide range of questions.
Russia-Africa Forum: Building Blue Economy partnership
The first Russia-Africa Summit took place in October in Sochi and in his statement on the importance of Russia-Africa relations, President Faure said: “The future Russia-Africa relationship should be defined by our joint cooperation to achieve the goals of both Agenda 2063 and the Global Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.”
Addressing President Vladimir Putin, co-chair President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, and other African heads of State and Government, President Faure continued, “The next frontier for Africa’s development is the Blue Economy. We count on the Russian Federation to build new partnerships as we harness the opportunities of the Blue Economy.
“As we concentrate our efforts in building our partnership for the benefit of our people, we must be mindful that climate change remains the number one global threat to our existence.”
President Faure also emphasised on the need for “win-win trade relations” between Russia and Africa to tackle the various obstacles to economic development on the continent.
The president also took part in a panel discussion around ‘Investing in Africa’ facilitated by economist Charles Robertson. He shared how Seychelles is the richest country in Africa because of its consistent human development-centred policies, and political stability. “What is the oxygen for development? It is peace and stability,” said the President.
He encouraged international investors to explore the opportunities available in the Blue Economy, and how it is the next frontier of development for the continent.
Following the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, President Faure visited Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russia, together with Sylvestre Radegonde, the Seychelles ambassador to the Russian Federation.
The President and Ambassador Radegonde visited the monument in Rostov-on-Don in honour of those who lost their lives on the Flydubai aircraft that crashed in the city in March 2016. The flight had a young Seychellois crew member on board, Alex Confait.
President Faure discusses coastal and ocean issues with World Bank chief
In his meeting with World Bank chief executive Kristalina Georgieva who heralded Seychelles for its leadership in the environment sector and inspiring other countries both in the region and worldwide, President Faure expressed his gratitude to the World Bank for its help in developing the blue bond.
The discussions included financing the Seychelles Coastal Management Plan 2019-2024 which was developed with the support of the World Bank and looks at the necessary actions required to reduce the impact of erosion, flooding and other climate change effects on the country’s coastline.
The meeting took place at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC, United States of America.
The president expressed his gratitude to the World Bank for its help in developing the blue bond.
The discussions included financing the Seychelles Coastal Management Plan 2019-2024 which was developed with the support of the World Bank and looks at the necessary actions required to reduce the impact of erosion, flooding and other climate change effects on the country’s coastline.
The various projects and programmes will cost an estimated US $13.1 million (R180 million), and the World Bank agreed to help the government in raising the necessary financing under the institution's climate change mitigation and adaptation portfolios.
At the 9th ACP Summit of Heads of State and Government in Nairobi, Kenya, President Faure endorsed the Nairobi Nguvu Ya Pamoja Declaration which paves the way for a transformed African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States, committed to multilateralism, and signed the Revised Georgetown Agreement.
In his statement, President Faure called for a greater and more focused mandate of the ACP Group of States. “More than ever before, we must remain more united as a group and an organisation, as one ACP, with a single and loud voice,” said President Faure.
The president’s statements further called for unity in the fight against terrorism, radicalisation and violent extremism. He expressed the need for ACP countries to strengthen their democratic institutions, as well as enhancing and modernising legislations and judicial capacities to hinder money laundering efforts, weaken regional drug trafficking networks and disrupt the illicit trade of conventional weapons.
State visit to Mozambique
President Faure also proceeded on a state visit to the Republic of Mozambique at the invitation of Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi.
He also took part in the Conference on the Blue Economy where as the champion of the Blue Economy for Africa, he was the guest of honour. The conference was held in Maputo under the motto ‘Sustainable and Shared Exploitation of the Ocean’.
Compiled by Gerard Govinden