Seychelles Hosts ECA-Permanent Representatives Retreat Focusing On Climate Change

9 December 2019

Mahe — The Seychelles, a small island nation that is fighting climate change from all angles, is hosting the second annual retreat of the Addis Ababa-based African Permanent Representatives and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The retreat seeks to deepen the consultative role of the Permanent Representatives and enhance their engagement with the Commission.

With the retreat placing particular emphasis on climate change and its impacts, including displacements and migration, the Permanent Representatives witnessed high tide surges that encroached onto hotels and homes, buttressing the point that not only is Seychelles extremely sensitive to climate change and its associated impacts, but the whole continent as well, raising the need for urgent climate action.

Seychelles Health Minister, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, in his remarks said it was befitting that the ECA had chosen to have the retreat in his country to discuss critical issues of climate change and how the continent can accelerate efforts to address its impacts.

"We are witnessing more frequent and more extreme weather events as a result of climate change," he said, adding the remoteness and size of the Seychelles and other Small Island Developing States (SIDS), frontline exposure and levels of development meant they were more prone to acute long-term risks from extreme weather events, including torrential rains, flash floods and storms.

The Minister thanked the ECA for mobilising support for the Seychelles to expand its high resolution numerical weather prediction network to improve early warning systems and also for resilience building through the use of climate information services, among others.

He also welcomed the ECA's innovative initiative to support investment in clean energy through the SDG7 Initiative for Africa.

The SDG7 initiative is about bringing scale, speed and sustainability to crowd-in financing from the private sector for accelerated clean energy deployment to address Africa's increasing need for energy, while contributing to climate action through enhanced nationally determined contributions to climate action (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement.

"African countries need not be victims of climate change," the Minister said. "African countries can serve as global leaders in pioneering new economic transformation pathways, including green industrialisation, and leapfrog the inefficient and polluting approaches followed in the past."

Mr. Adam also spoke about the blue economy. He said tapping the resources of the blue economy in a sustainable and integrated manner would yield benefits for Africa that include new and improved incomes, jobs and increased trade opportunities.

For his part, Morocco's Permanent Representative to the African Union and the ECA, Mr. Mohammed Arrouchi, Chair of the 52nd Session of the ECA's Conference of Ministers, said climate change was a pressing issue that demands urgent multilateral action.

"I believe that our gathering here today provides an opportunity to address this pressing issue through collective action," he said, adding the retreat provided an adequate opportunity for the representatives and the ECA to enrich dialogue and exchange views on pressing issues so they can come up with recommendations on the way forward.

ECA Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, said the overnight tide surges were evidence enough that urgent action on climate change must be taken now.

"This also brings to the fore the role of the ECA in contributing to efforts to keep global warming below 1.5 °C and mitigating adverse effects of climate change. We will continue to deepen our engagement in seeking ways to improve the capacity of African countries and making the continent's development sustainable, inclusive and climate-resilient," said Ms. Songwe.

The retreat comes as COP 25 is coming to an end in Madrid, Spain, where the international community is gathered to define concrete actions to use in facing the impact of climate change on peace, security and development.

Twenty-five Permanent Representatives are attending the retreat with 44 countries being represented.

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