Remarks by President Wavel Ramkalawan - Leaders’ Dialogue on the Africa COVID-Climate Emergency - Tuesday 6th April, 2021

07 April 2021 | Health

It is of great honour to be part of this Leaders’ Dialogue. The COVID-19 pandemic may be the most significant and pressing challenge facing humanity right now, but climate change remains the biggest long-term threat. The adverse impacts of climate change is deeply felt in island nations like ours, where sea level rise, coastal erosions, coral bleaching and even the disappearance of some of our islands, amongst others are a real threat to livelihood.

As we respond to the threats of COVID for urgent and immediate action, we cannot forget the multiple systemic shocks that are now threatening African communities at the same time: a health crisis, a food security crisis and an economic crisis, all compounded by the climate crisis.

Africa is facing a lot of challenges, but though the continent is being battered, we have to remain conscious of our contribution in combating climate change. It is our solidarity and commitment that will bring global success.

The combination of COVID19 and climate impacts have severely devastated our economies. Countries around the world have collectively allocated over $20 trillion in COVID stimulus packages, thereby reducing the resources available to combat climate change. Climate change cannot wait while we address COVID19. They must be addressed together and demands an urgent response.

In Seychelles, the Government is committed to building a climate smart resilient country to enable transformation in all aspects; Our critical infrastructure, food security, coastal and marine resources and water security are amongst the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. The critical need to enhance knowledge and understanding of climate impacts.  Vulnerabilities and adaptation solutions, together with sufficient financial support, this is a key blockage to achieving the needed resilience in the country.

Seychelles has deployed significant financial resources to scale up adaptation efforts and mainstreamed adaptation into our national development strategy. We have aligned this strategy with future expected impacts of climate change. We have aligned this strategy with future expected impacts of climate change. Protecting the environment through needed sacrifice has seen us put aside 30% of our EEZ and 50% of our already limited landmass to nature protection. And we are committed to doing more as we lead by example. In this context I commend the African Development Bank for its commitment to allocate $25 billion to climate change between 2020 and 2025.  

I welcome and commend the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP) to scale up and accelerate adaptation in Africa. Such programmes act as beacons of hope for humanity, specially for our dear mother Africa.

I am pleased to note that the AAAP has already identified projects that will be of benefit to Seychelles, such as:

The development of a toolkit for the design and implementation of Climate Smart Digital Technologies for Agriculture, including last-mile capacity building material for farmers, that will be critical to support the government of Seychelles to adapt its agricultural producers to climate risks.

Secondly, the development of a Massive Online Open Course on adaptation and climate change that will be able to support Seychelles’ youth to design and implement adaptation solutions and take part in the country’s adaptation efforts.

I call on development partners to urgently allocate more resources to adaptation in Africa in general and to the AAAP. The COVID 19 Stimulus packages should not deprive African countries of the resources needed for climate change. Climate change should be mainstreamed into stimulus packages to help us to “build forward better, greener and safer.”

Strengthening Africa and SIDS’ resilience to climate change can provide major opportunities.  If this cannot be done as a continent, we will fail to do so as the world. Let us all come together as it is our mission to protect the planet for our future generations. Let us do the absolute through global solidarity. It is no longer about me, myself and I, but about us as a global community.



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