Honourable Wallace Cosgrow, Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change
Cher collègue, Dominique Mas, Ambassadeur de France
Mr Roland Alcindor, UNDP Representative
Representatives from the La Digue community
Members of the press
Ladies and Gentlemen
Bonzour La Digue … mo bien content pou vine lor zotte zile paradisiac.
Nou rencontre ce beau matin c'est pou lance officiellement Shore Line Management Plan de La Digue.
The importance of coastal areas for Seychelles
It is the second time that I visit the beautiful island of La Digue.
I have noticed that most residential properties as well as critical infrastructure such as roads and power stations are situated on the coast. Because of this, your coastal zones are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise, erosion and flooding as a consequence of climate change.
And we are all aware that you rely heavily on coastal zones for economic development, namely tourism, fisheries and agriculture.
The negative impact of climate change in Seychelles
Because of changing patterns of rainfalls – heavier rainfall is seen to occur over shorter periods of time and the grounds has less time to absorb the rainwater. This is why flooding occurs.
At the same time, higher tidal waves increase the risk of salt water infiltrating on the land, impacting on the cultivations situated near the coast lines.
Many of you will surely recall the floods that occurred on La Digue after the passage of tropical cyclone Felleng in 2013 which had negative consequences on economic activities and on your lives.
The EU - Seychelles partnership in the area of climate change
I am glad that the European Union was quick in responding to Government’s request for assistance after the passage of cyclone Felleng.
We signed an allocation of 45 million Seychelles rupees (3 million euros) with Government under the Global Climate Change Adaptation programme to assist in dealing with the flood problems. It illustrates the strong commitment of the European Union to support Small Island Development States and vulnerable countries in the area of climate change.
The project is implemented by the UNDP and I see it as a concrete example of multilateralism in action. Multilateralism is the framework for climate action; climate change affects us all and we should join forces to efficiently fight it together.
I would like to seize the opportunity to acknowledge the good work done by the UNDP in implementing this project.
The purpose of the Shore Line Management Plan
The recent flooding of the La Digue coastal areas bears clear testimony to the vulnerability to which the island is exposed. This is why we need to react and to build coastal resilience to climatic phenomena.
As part of the project, it was very important for us to discuss with the local communities in order to listen to their concerns and learn about their needs. This is how we came up with the Shore Line Management Plan for La Digue that I am pleased to launch today.
The Shore Line Management Plan will provide the local communities and decision-makers with an appropriate tool for medium to long term planning along the coast. It will help to reduce future coastal risks for communities while at the same time encouraging sustainable coastal economic development.
I will not go into the details of the Shore Line Management Plan because a presentation will shortly be done.
I would however like to highlight that with this Plan, we are confident that the authorities on La Digue will now have a reference document and framework that will guide the safe and sustainable coastal development on this island. It will allow the authorities to frame and to decide on critical investments such as draining to be made.
Moreover, allow me to mention another key component of the project which is to construct drains. These drains will canalise the excess rain water and prevent flooding of residential areas, eco-hotels and cultivation areas. Special infrastructure will also be put in place to prevent the entry of salt water upstream.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The EU is and will continue to lead the global fight against climate change:
At the COP 25 which will be held in Madrid in a few weeks' time, the EU will continue to encourage all Parties to enhance global climate ambition.
Please allow me to quote the new European Union President Ms Ursula Von de Leyen in her Opening Statement at the European Parliament in July 2019:
'The EU will lead international negotiations to increase the level of ambition of other major economies by 2021. Because to achieve real impact, we do not only have to be ambitious at home – we have to do that, yes – but the world has to move together.'
Today, more than ever, the European Union is committed to leading the way on the ambitious climate action, and accelerate the global transition to low-emissions climate resilient future.
Our partnership with the Government of Seychelles in the area of climate change will continue especially with the preparation of the first-ever climate change policy that we are financing under the Global Climate Change Alliance plus programme.
Before I end, a word of thanks to you, Honourable Minister, for facilitating the implementation of this important project on La Digue.
The role played by your services has been fundamental for example in terms of getting the permission from private land owners to allow the drains to cross their properties.
Concluding remarks for the local communities:
I am very pleased to see the representatives from the La Digue local community here today. It is indeed very important to ensure regular consultations with the local communities here because the project is for them and they are the direct beneficiaries. Through this project, we want to ensure that you are relieved from the frequent floods that you face.
And I am pleased to inform you that works related to the construction of drains and other flood-evacuating infrastructure will start before the end of the year and will be completed by June next year. With this project, farmers whose cultivations were flooded before will now be relieved!
Ensam nou pou capab sauv nou planet. Vive partenariat entre Sesel ek lunion européenne.
Thank you for your attention.