Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, is one of 12 countries that has stepped forward to lead action groups under the Blue Charter, a commitment made by the 53 Commonwealth member states to work together to solve ocean-related problems.
Officials from Seychelles joined a four-day programme in London this June to champion marine protected areas.
“We are determined for our collective engagement on the Commonwealth Blue Charter to focus on practical action, and for our response to be guided principally by those who experience most acutely the difficulty and trauma of ocean and climate-related challenges,” commented Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
“They will be further supported by the acuity and knowledge of all the partners we can find, with the emphasis always on action,” she said.
“Small island developing states like Seychelles are the most vulnerable to climate change and ocean challenges. However, we also aspire to grow and develop, so it is important that we continue to protect the ocean and manage its resources sustainably,” added Principal Secretary of the Department of Environment at the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change of Seychelles, Alain de Comarmond.
Other action groups include Aquaculture (led by Cyprus), Coral Reef Protection and Restoration (co-led by Australia, Belize, Mauritius), Ocean Observations (Canada), Ocean Acidification (New Zealand), Mangrove Restoration (Sri Lanka), Marine Plastic Pollution (United Kingdom, Vanuatu), Blue Economy (Kenya), and Ocean and Climate Change (Fiji).
At the recently-concluded conference, delegates focused on strategies to rally members, mobilise resources for collaborative projects and boost public awareness.
A special networking day co-organised with Bloomberg Philanthropies focused on intensifying partnerships, linking up countries with more than 50 potential partners from the private sector, academia, civil society, philanthropies and the international development community.
Delegates were hosted by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to discuss priorities leading up to the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Rwanda in June 2020.
“The Commonwealth Blue Charter fills the gap between high level global commitments and concrete cooperation on the ground, where member countries can help, inspire, motivate, and learn from each other, in order to achieve our shared ocean goals,” said Commonwealth Head of Oceans and Natural Resources, Nicholas Hardman-Mountford.
“The All Champions meeting this week has set a roadmap to the future and we are excited to deliver on it,” he concluded.