Members of National Assembly from Anse Royale,
Vice Chancellor of University of Seychelles,
Principal Secretaries –
Principal Secretary- Wills Agricole,
Principal Secretary Alain Decomarmond, and
Chief Executive Officer – Seychelles National Parks Authority– Mr. Selby Remy,
Representatives from NGOs, and the PCU,
Our staff and colleagues from the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change,
and STUDENTS and teachers from Takamaka, Anse Boileau, Baie Lazare and Anse Royale schools – I wish you all a very good morning.
I have the great pleasure of welcoming you all once again to the World Wetlands Day activities being celebrated here on the 2nd of February.
As you may know, we have three declared Ramsar sites in Seychelles. They are wetlands of International Importance: namely Port Launay/Port Glaud – mangrove coastal wetlands, Mare Aux Cochons – high altitude fresh water wetland, and Aldabra Atoll – the UNESCO world heritage site.
These three sites are amongst over 2300 other global Wetland sites spread over 200 million hectares of the world.
The Ramsar convention began with only 7 member countries in 1971 and has grown to have new 170 marshes in less than 50 years. This shows the extent to which countries understands the need for wetland protection, conservation, and management.
Since its induction into the convention 15 years ago, Seychelles has consistently tried to raise public awareness on the benefits and importance of wetlands to the community.
This year’s theme: wetlands – we are not powerless against climate change comes at an opportune time, where the Paris Climate Change Agreement has recognized the role wetlands play in limiting the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. They have proven to be critical natural shock absorbers when coping with climate change and limiting global warming.
Our coastal wetlands, with mangroves and sea grass beds, together with coral reefs, absorb the shock of storms surges and tsunamis in coastal areas. Whereas inland wetlands soak up rain, reduce flooding and delay the onset of droughts. They are critical for climate adaptation and building resilience especially for fragile island ecosystems such as ours.
Alarmingly, the world’s corals are threatened with extinction in the face of global warming and more than one third of our global wetlands have been lost in the last five decades due to development.
As the saying goes, think globally and act locally. We have two major projects to underway. One from GEF-China, Ecosystem Based Adaptation project and the other from Adaptation Fund – UNDP project. Both are efforts towards climate adaptation and mitigation of our wetlands and enhancing the capacity of the people against climate change vulnerabilities. We will not be powerless.
The site we are assembled at here today itself is an example of a completed project to enhance water storage capacity to mitigate flooding and diminish its damaging effect on the nearby area.
However, we cannot rest. What is required is more ambition to amplify these initiatives. Wetland awareness should not end with one day of celebration. It should be a continuous process throughout the year.
To the young students here – conservation efforts are not just for ourselves, the older generation they are largely for you. So you, the future generation, can live to appreciate all the benefits wetlands provide. One of you may one day have to give a speech for Wetlands day urging young people to take active efforts to be a part of conservation and management.
I know our wetland policy has recently been revised and about to be reviewed by the cabinet in coming weeks. I appeal to our decision makers to approve the improvements proposed so that we are not in a position where we are powerless against climate change.
Thank you all.