Statement delivered by President Wavel Ramkalawan during official launching of the African Union Green Recovery Action Plan (AU GRAP)

15 July 2021 | Foreign Affairs

Your Excellencies Fellow Heads of State and Fellow Chairs,

Your Excellency Chair of the African Union Commission,

AU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Development,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to address you as Chair of the African Islands Climate Commission (AISCC). Ours is a partnership promoting smart climate-resilient action for African Island States while struggling to recover and build back greener from the impacts of COVID-19. Our goals are sustainable development, conservation of biodiversity, and enhancing local livelihoods and economies.

Our Commission strongly supports the African Union Green Recovery Action Plan (AU GRAP) 2021-2027. The launch of this Action Plan today could not be more timely as we prepare to participate at COP26 later this year.

Seychelles has time and again strongly advocated for climate adaptation and resilience to natural hazards to reduce the risks that threaten our survival and socio-economic viability as African SIDS, and mitigate the challenges to our sustainable development efforts.

African Island States are strongly committed to the Paris Agreement and for our part, Seychelles aims to lead by example. We have dedicated a whole chapter of our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to ocean climate action. This includes protecting and evaluating our blue carbon as nature-based solutions to climate change.

Unable to source the financing we needed at a cost we could afford, we had to be creative and adopted innovative sustainable conservation and climate finance models. These were a 'debt for adaptation swap' targeting the ocean and the world's first blue bonds to protect and sustainably use our marine and coastal areas while also addressing climate change. We achieved these with external financial support that tapped private sector and impact investment as well as traditional bilateral and multilateral sources.

The AU Green Recovery Action Plan complements the African islands’ commitment and efforts to reduce carbon emissions across all sectors, build resilience in our communities and play our part in supporting the transition to a net-zero carbon emissions economy.

As Chair of the African Islands States Climate Commission, I look forward to work with all member states and international partners to fulfill the objectives of the Green Recovery Action Plan. It is a call for action to adopt greener economic pathways to attain sustainable development goals and the challenges are many.

As we respond to the demands for immediate action to tackle the pandemic, we cannot forget that the climate change crisis will be with us for much longer and demand as urgent, coherent and collective a response.

With some four months to COP26, the message is clear - we must step up our global response to the climate crisis and building back greener from the pandemic should be part of this. Seychelles urges members to negotiate a package at COP26 that consists of technical and financial assistance to support Africa in addressing the challenges of climate change, decarbonising our economies, and implementing our Nationally Determined Contributionsin earnest.

Access to finance continues to be the major stumbling block despite Africa’s best efforts. For example, 52 out of 54 African countries have ratified their NDCs, making Africa the most compliant region globally. Nine African countries have submitted their second round of NDCs, two with stronger targets. And more than 40 other African countries have committed to enhancing their revised NDCs.

And yet, the US$100 billion in annual pledges that developed countries committed to a decade ago remain to date an empty promise. It must be met and we call on all partners to live up to their commitments. We have no time to lose. No effort should be spared to keep the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement within reach to prevent even more dangerous and deadly climate impacts on the African continent.

As daunting as the twin crises of COVID-19 and climate change are, they are not insurmountable.  The lessons we have drawn and are drawing from them can pave the way to a more resilient future more in harmony with Nature - a shared future based on multilateralism and international cooperation. It is the only way forward.

To conclude, Seychelles and the African Islands Climate Commission would like to see COP26 contribute towards a strong, sustainable, healthy and promising future for Africa, with the African Union Green Recovery Plan playing a pivotal role along the way.

I thank you.

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