“This significant milestone now holds the Seychelles government accountable to delivering the tangible conservation and climate change outcomes over the next 5 years that will result in 400,000 square kilometers of improved marine resource management,” said Matt Brown, The Nature Conservancy’s Africa Conservation Director.
The Seychelles debt-for-nature conversion, an innovative debt restructuring agreement that will allow the country to invest in marine protection and climate adaptation measures, is now finalized. TNC Africa’s Director of Conservation Matt Brown discusses what this means for conservation in this island nation
The Seychelles debt conversion is now officially “completed.” What does that mean?
In the last days of February 2016, the Government of Seychelles made payment to creditors to buy back their debt via a loan from the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT), which was funded by a grant and loan from The Nature Conservancy. Essentially, while we’ve been celebrating this deal for several months, this transfer of funds means that it’s finally “real” and Seychelles can begin putting this money to use.
Learn more about how this innovative debt conversion will help Seychelles adapt to climate change.
How is TNC helping Seychelles meet its conservation commitments?
The Nature Conservancy is now leading the creation of a marine spatial plan for the entire 1.37 million square kilometers of the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone. Science, spatial data, stakeholder input and local knowledge are being used to propose zones for high and medium biodiversity protection and multiple uses. The marine plan can then ensure that any future development is directed away from the highest biodiversity priorities and that any future investments in marine conservation will deliver the greatest return on investment.
What milestones do we hope to achieve this year?
As part of the debt conversion, Seychelles must declare the first 15 percent of the 30 percent it has committed for marine protection by December 2016. TNC’s marine spatial plan will help the government and other stakeholders make critical decisions about where those areas should be, both to ensure permanent protection of the areas of highest biodiversity and to make sure marine resources are used in the most sustainable way possible.
The project notably received a $1 million grant from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. What was your reaction?
We’re really happy to have Leonardo’s support. It falls in line with his history of commitment to ocean conservation projects around the world. What I think he may have liked about this project specifically is that his gift is a gift that keeps on giving. His contribution will pay dividends year after year, and they will be used to protect one of the most pristine marine ecosystems in the Indian Ocean far into the future.