Climate change is never far from the news in Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands east of the African mainland, whose economy and people depend heavily on their environment. Like many Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the country’s two key sectors are fisheries and tourism.
When COVID-19 led to a massive drop in arrivals, it showed just how important and vulnerable the country’s tourism could be. The IPU supported Seychelles and other countries, however, drawing on international expertise – and connecting it with national parliaments – to enable a green recovery from the pandemic. In late 2020, for example, when the IPU and UNEP produced a booklet on green recoveries from COVID-19, the Seychellois Parliament grabbed the chance to learn more. Written specifically for parliaments, the booklet focused on six themes: green infrastructure, the circular economy, clean energy, green jobs, biodiversity, and the rule of law and environmental protection.
On learning about the booklet, Seychelles’ unicameral Parliament requested further training for its MPs and several staff. By September 2021, the IPU had worked with UNEP and the National Assembly to co-design a two-day training course tailored specifically for the Seychelles.
Delivered to 35 parliamentarians and 20 parliamentary staff, the training covered the booklet’s main insights and the transition to clean energy. Speakers came from Seychelles, the IPU, UNEP, and even the Maldives, whose Chairperson of the parliamentary Committee on Environment and Climate Change, Ahmed Saleem, came to share his experiences. His country, another SIDS, is also greatly affected by climate change.
Linked directly to that training course, the National Assembly of Seychelles has been able to prioritize and progress on climate change, enabling some of the country’s vital initiatives on climate and the economy.
First, the House is in the process of establishing a Committee on Climate Change, Islands, Blue Economy and Agriculture. Second, the National Assembly has adopted the wetland area surrounding its compound in order to protect local biodiversity. Third, the International Affairs Committee has shifted its focus to climate change, including implementation of promises made at COP26 in Glasgow. Finally, the House passed a Motion calling for the Government to manage the outer islands of Seychelles in a more sustainable manner.