The ocean provides us with all we need and contributes nearly $1.5tn to the global economy annually. However, it is constantly threatened by various issues ranging from dwindling fish stocks and pollution, to the dramatic effects of climate change. Such challenges have meant that we need to come up with new and innovative financing tools and methodologies that address both the health and wealth of our oceans. Which brings us to the Blue Economy, an economic concept defined as “the sustainable use of the ocean resources for economic growth whilst at the same time preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem”.
The Republic of Seychelles is a prime example of a country that has embraced the Blue Economy. As an island nation in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles is a global biodiversity hotspot. Its Blue Economy initiative is based primarily on the fisheries and tourism sectors, which, along with its low-lying island geography, makes its people and economy particularly vulnerable to the threats of climate change. Seychelles has developed a Blue Economy roadmap, which defines how Seychelles will make the maximum use of its 1.37 million sqkm of ocean in the most sustainable manner possible. This comprehensive roadmap covers the whole spectrum of potential resources from oil exploration, to aquaculture, to sustainable fishing and even eco-tourism. Seychelles is slowly becoming a key player in the field of the Blue Economy, with economists and investors everywhere watching for a blueprint of future implementation in other countries.
In terms of thinking outside of the box, Seychelles is going beyond the norm when it comes to preserving its natural assets, while at the same time maximising the benefits it receives from its resources. In 2017, Seychelles completed an innovative debt-for-nature conversion with The Nature Conservancy. Seychelles agreed to a Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) of its entire marine area and from which 30% will be deemed as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This means limiting the use of MPAs for research and regulating tourism while prohibiting damaging activities like oil and gas exploration and dredging. The Government of Seychelles reinforced its status as a global leader in the Blue Economy by guaranteeing 16% (210,000 sq-km) of its maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as MPAs during the first phase of the programme.
A sizeable investment to the tune of $22m was raised during this first phase to buy back the nation’s sovereign debt and to refinance it under more favourable terms. The $22m consisted of a $15m loan from The Nature Conservancy, an additional $5m of grants from various foundations and $1m a piece from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment. Furthermore, it was agreed that a portion of the $22m is reserved under the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust, which is an independent body charged with the role of funding sustainable fishing, marine conservation programs and climate change research. Leonardo DiCaprio described the deal as “a model for future marine conservation projects”.
The Republic of Seychelles is also leading the way with additional innovative financing tools to provide much needed funding to boost support for Seychelles’ Blue Economy via the provision of loans and grants allowing investors to engage in various profitable activities including fishing, shipping, aquaculture, ship repair, petroleum exploration, tourism and scientific research.
In 2019, Seychelles is embarking on another bold Blue Economy initiative whereby it will be launching an Aquaculture industry, which aims to make maximum use of its excellent location, extensive marine life diversity and high quality fish. This will ensure constant supply of the islands’ much sought-after fish whilst at the same time protecting our wild stock. The Government of Seychelles has taken a prudent approach, with years of research and consultation undertaken, to ensure the success of the Aquaculture, whilst at the same time minimising and mitigating any adverse issues. Investors from all over the world, large and small, are eagerly waiting for the opening of this industry, which has the potential to be a major contributor to the Seychelles’ economy.
Seychelles is now poised for the advent of the Blue Economy. The framework is done and the legislation has been passed. There is a big push from the government to build up its maritime sectors and innovation is actively encouraged. Seychelles is already seen as a leader in this regard, and is perfectly positioned to become a key global influencer.
If you believe in highly profitable, environmentally and socially responsible, sustainable investments in a niche and secure market, there is no better time, and certainly no better country to invest in than Seychelles. The Seychelles Investment Board have an expert team ready and waiting to put your plans into action.