Non-Aligned Movement has emphasized the need to develop comprehensive adaption measure to address climate-related impacts on oceans and coasts, including through greater capacity building, enhanced scientific monitoring activities and to promote environmentally sound policies for integrated coastal and ocean management. A prominent example of such a measure in a NAM Member State is the Seychelles Coastal Management Program (CMP) which was endorsed by the country’s cabinet on May 30 2019.
Management of coastal zones is important for Seychelles as they a hold the vast majority of its natural capital, including coral reefs and sandy beaches with occasional wetlands preceding these ecosystems. Its iconic beaches are of pivotal importance for tourism, which accounts for 58 percent of Seychelles’ gross domestic product. Many studies have highlighted that large concentrations of people and assets in the coastal zones along with climate change will add additional threats through rising sea levels, changing precipitation patterns, and warming sea surface temperatures. To address these environmental issues, the CMP was developed in consultation with all stakeholders to enhance understanding about the risks that are associated with climate change and development pressures around the coastal zones in Seychelles.
The Plan takes into consideration existing studies that focus on coastal hazards relating to overtopping, sea-level rise and flooding along the shoreline in Seychelles plus nature-based solution. The land areas of the three main islands that are the focus of this CMP are Mahé (155 km2), Praslin (38 km2), and La Digue (10 km2).
The objectives of the CMP are: 1) To reduce the effects of coastal hazards on humans and coastal properties. 2) To harness the function of coastal ecosystems, such as beaches and dunes, wetlands, coral reefs, and mangroves, to reduce coastal risks; 3) Improve the general understanding of key physical, ecological economic, and climate change – induced processes that affect coastal risk and resilience in Seychelles; 4) Prevent the increase of coastal risk by facilitating coastal development planning and climate change adaptation; 5) Strengthen the capacity within the government to effectively develop and implement coastal management policies and 6) To promote awareness and understanding of the value of coastal ecosystems for coastal resilience. The CMP identifies the following five priorities for coastal management: 1) Monitoring and research of processes that affect the coastal zone to inform sustainable coastal management; 2) Coastal infrastructure, including engineered structures and natural systems that protect the coastline against flooding and erosion, such as groynes, sea walls, coral reefs, and coastal vegetation; 3) Risk-based land planning, including policies and planning practices that aim to reduce coastal flood and erosion risks for new and existing developments; 4) Capacity building to improve the level of experience and expertise in the government for implementation and enforcement of good coastal management and 5) Awareness raising to inform and engage the public, mobilize support, and spark collective action for better coastal management.
The CMP has been highly successful in meeting its objectives. Quite a number of coastal rehabilitation and protection projects have been done on Mahé, Praslin and La Digue. The World Bank has announced that it will be assisting Seychelles with technical support for the island nation to implement its $15 million coastal management and erosion plan. The plan – a first of its kind for the islands – will allow better measures to address hazards brought about by climate change affecting its coastal zones.
The CMP highlights the commitment of Seychelles towards environment sustainability and resilience, As per the results of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI) – a method of quantifying and numerically marking the environmental performance of a state’s policies – announced on June 4, 2020, Seychelles was ranked 38th out of 180 countries worldwide and top in Sub-Saharan Africa. Seychelles was also ranked first on climate change actions.
Photo Credit : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seychelles#/media/File:Anse_Source_d’Argent_2-La_Digue.jpg