Seychelles got the attention of the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) industrial nations today when President Danny Faure addressed them on the islands' innovative financing for the blue economy and ocean sustainability.
This year's G7 chair Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada had invited President Faure and the leaders of 10 other island and developing countries to join France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States at a special session on 'healthy, productive and resilient oceans and seas, coasts and communities'.
Speaking at the outreach session in the Quebec resort town of Charlevoix, President Faure also called on Mr Trudeau and Canada to play a "prominent and proactive" role in high seas negotiations that begin at the United Nations in New York this September.
"Our ocean is our pathway to prosperity," Mr Faure told leaders of the seven richest western nations as he talked about the Seychelles' blue economy roadmap and marine spatial plan.
When Seychelles graduated to a high-income country in 2015, instead of complaining about losing grant funding, it turned to pioneering new innovative sources of financing such as a first-of-its-kind debt swap for ocean conservation and climate adaptation, and the forthcoming and equally novel blue bonds.
Already, 15 percent of Seychelles' 1.4 million-square-kilometre exclusive economic zone (EEZ), some 200,000 square kilometres, had been protected.
This achieved the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) targets of conserving at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas by 2020 two years early. Another 15 percent of the EEZ would be protected by 2020, tripling the SDG 14 and Aichi targets.
"However, try as we might, such new sources of finance will not be enough to meet our sustainable development and climate action obligations under the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and the SAMOA Pathway for SIDS," the President said.
He called on the G7 and multilateral partners to agree on a "SIDS-specific resilience index" that takes into consideration small island countries' unique vulnerabilities to external shocks, be they climate change or economic.
"As we sail towards a sustainable blue economy anchored in a healthy ocean, we have learnt that it requires a change in mindset," President Faure told the gathered leaders.
"Islands can no longer afford to see ourselves as dots lost in a sea of blue. We are sentinels, the guardians of two-thirds of our Blue Planet's surface. We must act accordingly."
The new Seychelles High Commissioner to Canada, Ambassador Ronny Jumeau accompanied President Faure at the G7 summit.
Norway, the United Nations Secretary-General and the heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, the European Council and the European Commission also participated in the outreach session.