The President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, shocked the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) nations with photographs of the damage being done to the island nation’s Aldabra atoll by plastic pollution and other types of litter coming from the rest of the world, State House said on Sunday.
Faure told the roundtable of small islands developing states at the G7 summitin Quebec, Canada that Seychelles and other small island countries already had enough of a challenge managing their own waste, and didn’t need to take on the rest of the worlds.
Aldabra — a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Seychelles – is a remote atoll and the team is no match for the amount of trash washing on its shores. An Aldabra clean-up project was launched last month and will culminate with an expedition to be led by the Queens’s College from the UK to remove tonnes of ocean trash.
Faure added that the islands “needed assistance with handling the vast and increasing amounts of marine litter washing up on and polluting their beaches and coasts from way beyond their shores.”
The leaders of the G7, which includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, agreed that President Faure had graphically made his point.
The roundtable included four island leaders from Haiti, Jamaica, the Marshall Islands and Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, to discuss the challenges of small islands developing states(SIDS).
Faure was also invited to a special session on oceans at the G7 summit by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau since Canada holds the presidency for 2018. The session was held under the theme ‘healthy, productive and resilient oceans and seas, coasts and communities.’
In his address at the session on oceans, Faure spoke about Seychelles’ innovative financing for the blue economy and ocean sustainability.
When Seychelles graduated to a high-income country in 2015, instead of complaining about losing grant funding, Faure said the island nation turned to pioneering new innovative sources of financing. This included a first-of-its-kind debt swap for ocean conservation and climate adaptation and the forthcoming and equally novel blue bonds.
“However, try as we might, such new sources of finance will not be enough to meet our sustainable development and climate action obligations under the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the SAMOA Pathway for SIDS,” he told the G7 leaders.
Faure called on the G7 and multilateral partners to agree on a SIDS-specific resilience index that takes into consideration small island countries’ unique vulnerabilities to external shocks, be they climate change or economic.
“Islands can no longer afford to see ourselves as dots lost in a sea of blue. We are sentinels, the guardians of two-thirds of our Blue Planet’s surface. We must act accordingly,” added the Seychelles’ President.
Faure also called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Canada to play a prominent and proactive role in high seas negotiations that begin at the United Nations in New York this September.