Seychelles-supported ‘Great Blue Wall’ initiative launched at global climate change conference
An initiative to conserve, restore and sustainably use marine and coastal ecosystems in the western Indian Ocean called the Great Blue Wall launched on Wednesday at the UN climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow.
Under the initiative, 10 western Indian Ocean countries, including Seychelles, presented plans to establish a network of marine conserved areas.
The Great Blue Wall is expected to accelerate and upscale ocean conservation actions to the benefit of over 70 million people in the Western Indian Ocean region. As a coalition of the willing, it welcomes all interested countries to join, from Africa and beyond.
In his remarks at the launch, former President of Seychelles, James Michel, urged all countries to present a strong common front and work together to turn these ambitions into concrete actions to unleash the potential of the Blue Economy.
“We can have something to be proud of. This innovative model has the potential to become pan-African, if not global. This would make the Great Blue Wall movement the first of its kind that was conceptualised and born in Africa to become global,” said Michel.
The former president said that the region represents a rich and vast marine space with priceless ecosystems.
“From Seychelles to the coasts of the African continent, this represents an economic powerhouse that awaits to be unleashed. The opportunities are endless for new business ventures. At the same time, it is an opportunity for education awareness in conservation and regenerative action by the communities. The Great Blue Wall will ensure that livelihoods are sustained,” he added.
On his side, the IUCN director general, Bruno Oberle, said that this initiative can serve as a model for the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of marine ecosystems worldwide.
“By strengthening regenerative and sustainable Blue Economy in the Western Indian Ocean, the Great Blue Wall contributes to the livelihoods and climate resilience of local communities as well as to marine and coastal biodiversity,” said Oberle.
The western Indian Ocean provides food security, sustains economic growth, regulates the climate, and provides livelihood opportunities for coastal communities across 10 countries – Comoros, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, and Tanzania.
Under the Great Blue Wall, participating countries will designate suitable seascapes and marine conservation and restoration sites as IUCN Category VI conserved areas, which allow for sustainable use of natural resources to benefit local communities.
Category VI of IUCN is a protected area with sustainable use of natural resources.
The initiative’s vision is to achieve a net gain of intact critical ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrass meadows and coral reefs, and to contribute to achieving 30 percent marine conserved area coverage in the region by 2030.
Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, has already pledged to protect 100 percent of its mangroves and seagrass ecosystem and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 24 percent by 2030.