President Faure opening remarks Commonwealth Business Forum Green finance Returns with Responsibility - Tuesday 17th April - Lord Mayor’s Dining Room, Mansion House, Walbrook
18 April 2018 | Commonwealth
Honourable guests, speakers, ladies and gentlemen
I would like first to thank the Commonwealth Business Forum for their invitation to open this session. It is indeed an honour. As many of you may be aware, Seychelles has been exploring innovative finance to fund its blue economy. It has been an exprerience which I am very happy to share with you today.
Firstly, one must understand Seychelles’ context. We have an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1,4 million square kilometres. That is more than twice the area of Madagascar.
Our landmass on the other hand is only 455 km2 or about one third the size of London.
So for us, like for many small island nations, green is blue!
In January this year Seychelles approved its Blue Economy Strategic Policy framework and Roadmap. Our brand of blue economy is very much about ocean-based sustainable development; focusing on shared prosperity, food security, economic diversification, as well as healthy and productive oceans.
Our Roadmap identifies strategic objectives and priorities for action and investment to 2030 such as:
- transitioning to sustainable fishing and tourism;
- enabling new maritime sectors;
- promoting education, research and innovation;
- private sector engagement;
- climate resilience; and
- the protection and sustainable use of our ocean resources and unique biodiversity.
Regional and international cooperation is very much part of our approach. It has to be. Some of the challenges we face, we share with our neighbours and with the rest of the world. The solutions are not ours alone.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the Commonwealth for their support, by providing an expert for two years to work with us on this ambitious agenda and, importantly, also for the long-standing guidance that has supported us for many years past, and, we trust, many more to come.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As a high-income country since 2015, we have turned to innovative finance to fund our blue economy initiatives. As I mentioned before, for us, green finance is blue finance and it is all about sustainability.
We have piloted, with some success, a couple of “blue” finance projects,
- The first one was the Debt Swap for Conservation and Climate Adaptation, with the support of the Paris Club of Creditors and The Nature Conservancy at a value of US$ 21.6 million. The instrument unlocks new finance and provides us with a framework to guide our oceans’ sustainable development and management.
This setup is administered by a statutory independent Trust, the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) and provides an on-going funding stream for ocean conservation, sustainable use and climate resilience.
Thanks to the Debt swap, Seychelles is developing a marine spatial plan of our entire EEZ, which we will have finalised by 2020. Already, 15% of EEZ - or 200,000 km2 - has been designated as marine protected areas and a remaining 15 % will be designated by 2020.
- The second one is the Seychelles Sovereign Blue Bond at a value of US million. This was designed with the support of the World Bank, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and The Prince of Wales’ Charities International Sustainability Unit.
It is a “blended finance” project in the sense that it combines with the World Bank SWIOFISH3 project to add another US.5 million towards funding our country’s transition to sustainable artisanal fisheries.
Working with SeyCCAT and the Development Bank of Seychelles, the ambitious transition programme will include blue grants for fisheries reform and concessionary blue loans that will enable businesses to improve their value chains to reduce overcapacity and overfishing.
These are by international standards, small transactions. But for a country like ours, they are important steps in our transition to a sustainable blue economy. We also hope that these steps of ours will help guide other Commonwealth countries and SIDS towards their own sustainable blue futures and for the future of mankind.
We are now interested in exploring how blue finance can assist us with emerging technology-based sectors, such as renewable energy, waste management and biotechnology. We also recognise the need for blue finance to support education and training, without which we could not sustain our development over the long term.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It has been an educational experience to develop these blue finance projects. Some of the main lessons we have learnt are as follows:
- First blue finance requires a change in mind set. We no longer can expect declining public funds to meet the needs of our future development. Private and blended finance is bridging that gap and it brings in new approaches and expectations. “Blue finance” is about achieving measurable sustainability outcomes and generating a return on investment. And not just an economic return. We also place significant emphasis on social and environmental returns. In this regard, we feel that blue finance is here to stay.
- Secondly, we could not have advanced our projects on our own.
Blue finance transactions are fairly new. Over and above, they are complex and they require specialist expertise to successfully design and structure the deals so that they work.
Our international partners provided the much needed credit enhancement and credibility to attract private finance and develop blended finance deals. Their support was crucial.
- Thirdly, we have developed the necessary policy and regulatory environments to support this area of financing. Through the preparation of our first Marine spatial plan, mapping our ocean and its sustainable uses and the blue economy roadmap.
However, we will admit that our capacity to monitor outcomes remains a challenge and global standards, guidance and capacity are still needed.
We have for this session excellent speakers from all sides of the green/blue spectrum of finance and I look forward to learn from your experience and knowledge.
Thank you for your attention