Fri, 10 December 2021
Former President James Michel who is also the Executive Chairman of the James Michel Foundation, has called on the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to keep Conservation and restoration of marine and coastal biodiversity at the heart of all initiatives to unlock the development of the Blue Economy.
Mr. Michel was speaking during the Ocean Sustainability High Level Forum organized by ASEAN on the sides of Expo 2020 in Dubai, Friday. The forum under the theme Enhancing Partnerships for Ocean Sustainability in ASEAN was launched by ASEAN Secretary General Dato Lim Jock Hoi. It is aimed at identifying areas of cooperation in eco-marine tourism, bio- diversity conservation and sustainable fisheries for the improvement of livelihoods for the coastal societies in accordance to the ASEAN theme at Expo 2020 of “Creating Opportunities for the Peoples of ASEAN”.
In sharing the best experience of Blue Economy and Blue Finance to ASEAN members Mr. Michel described the south East Asian region as an economic powerhouse that awaits to be unleashed where opportunities are simply endless. He shared the steps that lead to the Debt for Adaptation Swap whereby Seychelles’ repayment of an international debt of some $21 million was cancelled in exchange for investment in the Blue Economy. “This investment included the creation of Marine Protected Areas, climate mitigation projects and the commissioning of a Marine Spatial Planning Tool to distinguish between areas where fishing and other activities can be maintained and extensive reserves to be left as they are. “This investment also enabled me to commission the initiation of the first Blue Bond, which was launched at the Ocean Conference in Bali in 2018, to develop sustainable demersal fisheries, attracting private sector funding through public-private partnerships” Michel told delegates.
He explained that through collaboration, the Seychelles’ model can be shared and adapted to convert the MPAs in ASEAN into sources of finance to help the development of fishing communities, local tourism and conservation supported by capacity building to empower coastal communities to care for their water fronts as their lifetime assets.
“Despite the physical distance between us and the fact that we are in different regions, we have a lot in common as ocean and coastal states. We can build significant partnerships and synergies as we embrace the blue future” concluded Michel.
The Seychelles Ambassador to the UAE, Mr. Jean Claude Adrienne, Seychelles’ envoy to ASEAN Mr. Nico Barrito, and Former Minister Alain St. Ange also participated in the event.
The James Michel Foundation was also represented by its CEO Ms. Debbie Monthy.
ASEAN consists of ten Member States which are strategically located across five million square kilometers of maritime space between the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
Enhancing cooperation between ASEAN and the Seychelles to build a sustainable balance between maritime economic development and oceanic conservation would contribute to our joint sustainability goals and climate change mitigation efforts.