Seychelles strengthens National Climate Commitments through its NDC Submission

As the climate change debate takes centre stage globally, further intensified by the upcoming 26th Conference of the parties (COP 26) in Glasgow, Seychelles has made some of its boldest commitments in its national climate change agenda. In its recently submitted Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Seychelles has pledged to reduce its economy wide absolute GHG emissions by 293.8 ktCO2e  (26.4%) and to protect 100% of its mangroves and seagrass ecosystems – both by 2030.

The Paris Agreement of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the global treaty addressing climate change, aims to accelerate efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, while pursuing further efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. Article 4 in the Paris Agreement makes a requirement that all parties shall prepare, communicate and maintain successive nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that it intends to achieve. The NDCs are national climate plans highlighting climate actions, and targets by governments to respond to climate change and they work on a 5-year cycle.

The first round of NDC submissions was in 2015 whereby 184 countries made their pledges. The second round of submissions, due in 2020, are on-going given most countries have faced delays partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The ideal situation would be for all countries to submit their commitments before the start of COP26 on 1st of November 2021 where world leaders will come together to debate on climate change.

The NDCs looks at the source of the problem itself with actions planned to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to mitigate climate change and communicate ways that will be taken to adapt to the climate change impacts to build resilience.

Seychelles submitted its updated NDC on the 30th of July 2021 with very ambitious climate targets and actions for the period 2021 – 2030. Seychelles committed to reduce its economy wide absolute GHG emissions by 293.8 ktCO2e in 2030 (26.4%) compared to business as-usual (BAU) scenario.  Mitigation and adaptation ambitions are well embedded in Seychelles’ updated NDC with a bold commitment focusing on its coastal wetlands; protecting 100% of its seagrass and mangroves ecosystems.

Seychelles received support to develop its updated NDC from the NDC partnership, the UNDP, World Bank, the European Union, IRENA, Stantec, GIZ, the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SEYCATT), the Nature Conservancy, Deltares, the University of Seychelles, and the PEW Charitable Trusts and Commonwealth.

The drafting of the NDC was carried out by a team of local and international consultants under the auspices of the Department of Climate Change and Energy (DCCE). With the Covid-19 pandemic, there were restrictions to organize physical meetings. Stakeholder awareness and consultations were done on a virtual basis to gather information from community members that address issues around gender and youth into the NDC process.

The enhanced mitigation contributions of Seychelles’ NDC include lowering the GHG emission to a level of 817 ktCO2eq by 2030, relatively to baseline emissions. The long-term commitment is  to achieve a decarbonized economy by 2050, to boost electricity generation from Renewable Energies (RE), to shift progressively to low carbon transport, to use RE for water supply mobilisation and to secure a sustainable and resilient water management system, to ensure that sewage systems and wastewater treatment facilities include nutrients and energy recover, to ensure “Responsible Tourism” in a circular economy, defining a 2030 target of reducing GHG emissions from the sector.

As a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), Seychelles gives high priority to adaptation in its new NDC in the hope that it improves its resilience to the impacts posed by climate change. The key contributions to adaptation will include appropriate coastal planning and management and the use of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) for climate resilience.

There is an entire chapter dedicated to the Ocean and Blue Carbon. In this chapter, Seychelles will protect at least 50% of its seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2025, and 100% of its seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2030. Seychelles will also establish a long-term monitoring programme for seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2025 and include the GHG sink of Seychelles’ blue carbon ecosystems within the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory by 2025. Seychelles commits to the implementation of its adopted Marine Spatial Plan and the effective management of the 30% marine protected areas within the Seychelles’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

With concerns expressed in recent times over the attainability of keeping the rise in global temperature below 1.5°C, Seychelles remains hopeful that the level of ambition from parties in this second round, combined with fruitful partnerships, exchanges of ideas and best practices and support expected from COP26, we will keep the climate promise on track.

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