The James Michel Foundation was registered on 6th February 2017.
The Foundation’s work stems from experience and legacy of Mr. Michel’s presidency between April 2004 and October 2016, particularly in three key areas in which he has been most active in promoting in Seychelles and in various international fora.
Here is a brief history of some of the areas of his work.
Since 2011, President Michel has been lobbying various international agencies, including the UN and the African Union, to give greater importance and visibility to the sustainable development of oceans as part of the ‘Blue Economy’ concept. Mr. Michel also co-hosted the Blue Economy Summit in Abu Dhabi on two occasions as part of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
With Seychelles’ leadership and proactive diplomacy together with several small island states, the African Union adopted the Blue Economy as part of its economic development policy, and the United Nations included the oceans as part of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with Goal 14 being the sustainable use of oceans, in the Post-2015 Development Agenda.
James Michel enabled Seychelles to become part of the Clinton Global Initiative Blue Guardians project, which aims to leverage big data solutions and harness informational tools to allow Small Island Developing States to set priorities in sustainably managing their fisheries, tourism and renewable energy sectors. The program is also raising a Blue Guardians multi-donor trust fund that will go to participating islands for technical assistance, data acquisition and natural resource management.
During his presidency, James Michel set up a Blue Economy Department to promote the concept to the Blue Economy, and he spearheaded a Blue Bonds initiative, to raise capital for the sustainable management of both ocean resources and fisheries using market mechanisms with the support of development institutions, as well as directing a $21 million a debt-for-nature swap agreement with the Paris Club, as an innovative method of debt forgiveness in which a part of the country's foreign debt was forgiven in exchange for a commitment for investments in domestic environmental conservation and sustainability projects.
This was done through the creation of the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SEYCCAT), with aid from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and generous grants from a group of international conservation foundations, including the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
Under Michel’s presidency, Seychelles started its journey to become the first country in the world to have a comprehensive marine spatial plan for its entire ocean territory, which continues to be developed through an ongoing full survey of the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone.
On the subject of the Blue Economy President Michel has written a book “Rethinking The Oceans – Towards the Blue Economy” which was published by Paragon House in June 2016.
He is also patron of the James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute at the University of Seychelles, of which he is also the Chancellor.
President James Michel's leadership in conservation of island biodiversity and the fight against climate change at a global level has on many occasions been highlighted at major international meetings.
He has been vocal at global summits on climate change, and has lobbied industrialised nations to do more to reach a global climate agreement. In 2016 Seychelles was one of the first 16 countries to ratify the Paris Agreement, after global consensus was reached in 2015.
James Michel co-chaired the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) which brings together world leaders to promote action on conservation and sustainability of islands. GLISPA was formed following a call by President Michel and the President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau at the Mauritius International Meeting on Small Islands in January 2005 for an international partnership to build bridges between islands, regardless of their size and political status.
It is with GLISPA's support that President Michel established the Sea Level Rise Foundation (SLRF) in Seychelles as a global initiative to bring together resources and expertise to help small island states, large countries with islands and other low-lying areas to adapt to the growing threat of sea level rise.
James Michel created the Seychelles Energy Commission, tasked with promoting and developing renewable energy in Seychelles, including setting up a Seychelles Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programme, enabling homeowners to apply for affordable loans to purchase energy efficient household appliances and solar energy panels.
Mr. Michel laid the groundwork for the MASDAR Wind Energy Project for the creation of the first wind farm in the Seychelles, which was funded by the United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Government under the Abu Dhabi Fund.
He promoted the creation and financing of a new solar panel farm, through financing from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States
James Michel has propelled Seychelles on the international scene as an ardent advocate of the cause of small island developing states (SIDS) and their sustainable development.
Sustainable development that reduces the vulnerability of small island states to climate change, food and energy crises remains at the forefront of Michel’s agenda. He is also one of the patrons of the World Sustainable Development Forum (WSDF).
During his presidency, Seychelles was ranked 1st to 3rd highest in Human Development Index in Africa, and also graduated to the status of ‘High-Income’ country within the World Bank classification.
He was responsible for the promulgation of legislation transforming half of Seychelles’ territory into nature reserves – the highest proportion in the world.
At the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa, in 2014, Mr. Michel called for the introduction of a Vulnerability Index which would ensure that small islands states get a ‘fair deal’ within the global development architecture and affordable financing for development projects, considering that SIDS are the most vulnerable to the globalised economy.