Seychelles benefits from the AOSIS Fellowship

Since 1990, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) has represented the interests of 39 small island and low-lying coastal developing states including Seychelles in international climate change, sustainable development and ocean negotiations and processes. One major challenge for AOSIS members in the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) process however, is finding the adequate resources that will allow them to fully engage in substantive training focused on the complex climate negotiations. This reality puts AOSIS members at a potential disadvantage in the negotiations that prevents valuable experience to be transferred from the international arena to domestic government work, and vice versa.

Under the chairmanship of the Republic of Nauru, the Climate Change Fellowship Program was established in 2014 and made possible with the support of the government of Italy. The program brings earlier career professionals from AOSIS member countries to New York for one year to participate as part of their national delegation to the UNFCCC and the United Nations (UN) at their country’s mission. The fellows participate in a yearlong training program, including on-going negotiation skills training, media training and training in climate change law, policy and science. After completion of the fellowship, the fellows return to their home governments and continue to engage on these issues and in the UNFCCC process. Former fellows meet at the AOSIS Fellowship alumni.

Three young Seychellois has benefited from the fellowship program and are now representing Seychelles and the AOSIS at the international climate change negotiations at the Subsidiary Body meetings (SBs) and the Conference of the parties (COP) as climate negotiators for the UNFCCC. George Uzice did the fellowship in 2015, Angelique Pouponneau in 2018 and Elissa Lalande in 2020. The former fellows provided useful insights on their fellowship experience.

“The fellowship was a once-in-a-life time experience that taught me the ins and outs of climate negotiations and diplomacy at the United Nations. Personally, I gained a rich network of colleagues and friends with whom I can always connect with on global challenges. After the fellowship, I joined the Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) and given my experience in international climate policymaking from the AOSIS fellowship, SeyCCAT was able to secure a US$ 1 million grant for Seychelles to integrate blue carbon in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). I continue to provide technical advice to the government on adaptation, climate finance as well as loss and damage.” said chief executive officer Angelique Pouponneau

“The fellowship was a once-in-a -life time experience. I gained useful intakes on the UNFCCC processes especially for the development of the Paris Agreement. After the fellowship, I continue to work with Seychelles in relation to climate change. I am now the AOSIS Coordinator for Technology Development and Transfer. The fellowship experience helped me with the negotiations at the UNFCCC Meeting.” said negotiator George Uzice.

“I did the fellowship when the Covid-19 pandemic hit America in 2020. Despite this, my fellows and I were still eager to learn because we knew that this was a once in a lifetime experience. Although on a virtual basis we were keen to complete the program. Not only did we become climate diplomats at the end but we felt that we became more resilient. I am now a trained negotiator for Mitigation and I am using my diplomatic and negotiating skills both domestically and internationally to help address climate change and teach those skills to other young people. If you are young and passionate about climate change then my advice is to apply the fellowship.” said Senior Policy Analyst and Negotiator, Elissa Lalande from the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Elissa Lalande (2nd left) and her fellows in 2020
Angelique Pouponneau (2nd left) and other fellows in 2018
George Uzice (1st left) with Ambassador Ronny Jumeau in New York, 2015