1st December 2023, Dubai UAE: The President of the Republic of Seychelles, Mr. Wavel Ramkalawan is currently leading the Seychelles delegation at the Twenty-eighth session of the Conference of Parties of UNFCC (COP28).
The President joined over 170 world leaders for the World Climate Action Summit (WCAS) being held during the United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP 28High-level segment, where he delivered his National Statement earlier this afternoon. The summit echoed the critical need for World Leaders to implement and transform key climate related decisions into concrete actions and credible plans.
During his address, the President highlighted the urgency for collective action and the need for commitments made to be honoured as part of efforts to mitigate the heightened threats of climate change particular vis-à-vis Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Seychelles.
“In our shared pursuit of a sustainable future, the urgency of our deliberations here in Dubai cannot be overstated. As parties to the convention, we committed to deliver on commitments such as the USD100 billion promise, Scaling up Adaptation Finance, New Collective Quantified Goal on Finance and most recently the Loss and Damage Fund. We are yet at another COP and I am disheartened to state that most of these commitments are yet to be fulfilled despite the urgency required to address the climate crisis.
As Leaders, I call for your unwavering shift in political-will that will translate into concrete actions so as to confine global temperature rise within the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Small Island Developing States are on the frontline of climate change, facing rising sea levels, coastal erosion, increased frequency of extreme weather events, and the loss of vital ecosystems. Whether we are high income, low income or among the Least Developed countries, our specificities are the same and what the industrialised nations emit have a direct impact on our coastlines and livelihoods. We are simply islands floating in the ocean, and therefore we must be treated as a unique and separate category when it comes to assisting us. I call on SIDS to unite and support each other” said President Ramkalawan.
Speaking to the summit, the Head of State also emphasised the real life negative effects affecting the small island archipelago as well as the enormity of the financial burdens inflicted on such a small nation as Seychelles. “As I speak, my country is experiencing devastating impacts of climate change, specifically damage to the coastline and critical coastal infrastructure caused by higher tides, frequent storm surges and heavy rainfall. Coupled with other impacts, these are endangering the livelihoods of my people and our Islands. A recent comprehensive survey only on the main populated granitic islands of Seychelles conducted by our technical team estimated around USD 22 million is needed for road infrastructure works and other measures to mitigate coastal erosion. Our updated NDC highlighted a further USD600 million will be required over the next 10 years, for both mitigation and adaptation sector, translating to 5% of GDP annually or 10% of the annual budget. If we are to add the disaster happening to our coralline outer islands, that figure could be doubled, let alone tripled.
Like many SIDS, 90 per cent of the country’ infrastructure and human activities occur along its low-lying coastal areas and are thus vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The current trajectory means Seychelles’ economy stands to be severely undermined, whereby forcing us to divert much needed finance to environment protection, instead of investing in education, health, sports, agriculture, food security, modernisation and giving our people a better standard of living” stressed President Ramkalawan.
He further placed emphasis on the critical need for the Loss and Damage Fund created last year and the Multi-Dimensional Index (MVI) initiative to take into consideration the true vulnerabilities of all SIDS fairly, rather than penalising them for their High-income status. He further highlighted the climate change plight where SIDs are battered by climate change and severe increased threats to their very existence. “My point is simple: Don’t categorise islands into economic bands but treat all islands in the same manner and allow all of us to have access to the Loss and Damage Fund. We all lose from the damage you cause, yet we clean up our emissions and help mop up those of industrialised nations.
The message is loud and clear: Seychelles is a committed partner that can be trusted. We believe in what we preach and we walk the talk. The evidence is there. However, we cannot do it alone. We need the financial support of the whole world. The metaphorical hourglass is dwindling. COP 28 presents a pivotal call to action to build climate resilience before the last grain of sand slips away. In unity and determination, let us seize this moment to reverse our course and forge a sustainable and resilient future for generations to come. Let’s not leave anyone behind”, concluded the President.
Prior to attending the COP28 High-Level National Statement segment, President Ramkalawan attended the opening ceremony held in the morning where he was welcomed at the Dubai Expo City site by His Highness Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Abu Dhabi and the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.