State Visit, India – Speech by President Danny Faure delivered at the Indira Gandhi Forest Academy – 28th June 2018
27 June 2018 | Foreign Affairs
It is a real pleasure for me to be here with you at the Indira Gandhi Forest Academy.
A few days ago, on International Public Service Day, I addressed a group of students at the Gujarat Forensic Science Academy. I spoke to them about the nobleness of their career as Policemen and Policewomen. They play an important part to protect our people from crime. Today, I have the same message for you. As public servants, you have a noble career. To protect our nature for the benefit of our planet and humanity.
Like India, Seychelles attaches high importance to its natural environment, over 80 % of our total terrestrial area of 443 s.km are forested areas, over 47% of this are protected areas and eventually we hope to declare over 50% of our lands protected.
On the marine side, we are one of the largest oceanic states with an Exclusive Economic Zone of over 1.3 million square kilometres. In its quest to continue to protect its natural resources, adapt to climate change and explore further the potentials of our Blue Economy, Seychelles over the last 4 years has been undertaking a Marine Spatial Plan or MSP for the whole our EEZ. The aim is to protect 30% of this ocean space to protect high biodiversity areas and also facilitate sustainable use of the marine resources. Early this year, we announced the completion of the first phase of the MSP and have designated the first 15%. We hope to conclude the remaining 15% in 2020.
Dear officers, Seychelles has always been recognized as one of the ‘greenest’ countries largely due to its vast forested areas and green spaces around our districts and our capital city, Victoria. This did not come easy’. It is due to our strong belief in the value of forests over several decades that we have managed to make the achievements that I have mentioned earlier.
Our forests are at the centre of our socio-economic development and our people’s well-being. Our forests are part of our main tourist attractions, not only because of their biodiversity value, but also their scenic value, which our visitors can explore through various hiking trails, for example.
Our forests are important as a sustainable resource for, amongst other things, the provision of timber, charcoal production and exploitation of cinnamon which is tightly controlled by our Ministry responsible for Environment. A strong legal framework is very important to ensure that these activities happen and co-exist in a sustainable manner. The agricultural sector also continues to explore opportunities with the private sector particularly in agroforestry. The Ministry of Environment is presently implementing a project with the support of the Food and Agricultural Organisation to carry out a Forest Resource Inventory which will eventually contribute towards the formulation of the National Forestry Policy.
There is no doubt that the Forestry sector remains very important to us economically and socially, we need to continue to strengthen our capacity in this domain, it is my hope that with my visit we can establish a fruitful cooperation with India in this domain.
As you know, forests are the lungs of our planet Earth and our high coverage of forested areas has directly contributed towards the excellent air quality that we have. For this reason, in 2016 Seychelles was officially recognized by the Environment Performance Index as the country with the cleanest air quality.
Cleanliness is primordial to our people’s well-being and to a healthy environment. We continue to have strong policies related to solid waste management, for an effective solid waste management system and an active partnership with the private sector in recycling. For example, scrap metals and aluminum cans are exported to India for recycling.
Seychelles is also one of the global leaders, especially amongst small islands states, in combatting plastic pollution which impacts both on our terrestrial and marine environment. For over a decade, we have had a recycling programme for plastic PET bottles. Last year, we started a full ban on single-use plastic bags, Styrofoam take away boxes and other plastic utensils. This month, we announced that as of 2019 we will be banning plastic straws in the country. We remain committed in the future to continue with such actions.
To conclude, Seychelles remains committed to cooperate with India in its quest towards a continued sustainable development of our terrestrial and marine areas for the benefit of our people and the natural environment that we so depend on.