Climate change represents a major threat to Seychelles’ economy and way of life due to changes in rainfall patterns, sea level rise, increased coastal erosion and flooding, as well as impacts on marine ecosystems and fisheries due to ocean warming and coral bleaching (GoS, 2009; 2012; 2015). The Government of Seychelles (GoS) has committed to both reducing its contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and planning ahead to adequately prepare for the impacts of climate change, and this commitment has been captured in the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution report submitted at the Paris Climate Change Summit in 2015 (GoS, 2015).
While awareness of climate change is generally high in Seychelles (Stantec et al., 2018a), the process of translating this awareness into concrete policies, plans and legislation to seriously address climate change in most government sectors is only now beginning to take shape. The cost of shifting to clean energy and climate-proof development is significant and a deterrent to immediate action, but the cost of dealing with climate impacts later may be much higher. Moreover, the cost of climate action can be outweighed by the diverse co-benefits generated by improved climate resilience, including energy, food and water security, diversification of the economy and generation of new green jobs, and protection of ecosystems and natural beauty needed to sustain a viable tourism industry for the future.
Capacity building has been identified in many Seychelles government reports as one of the key strategies to move forward to mainstream climate change across all sectors and improve the nation’s resilience in the face of climate change (GoS, 2005; 2009; 2011; 2012; 2015). But what exactly is meant by the term ‘capacity building’?
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines capacity as the knowledge, the tools, the public support, the scientific expertise and the political know-how that a country needs in order to identify, plan and implement ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change (UNFCCC, n.d.). Climate resilience is the goal, whereby a country has the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to the impacts of climate change, from gradually changing temperatures and precipitation to extreme events and natural disasters (C2ES, n.d.).
Broadly speaking the UNFCCC aims to help countries build this capacity on three levels: Seychelles Research Journal, Volume 1, Number 2, August 2019 Page 68
- Individual – developing educational, training and awareness-raising activities
- Institutional – fostering the development of organizations and institutions, including their missions, mandates, cultures, structures, competencies, and human and financial resources, as well as the cooperation between organizations, institutions and sectors
- Systemic – creating enabling environments through economic and regulatory policies and accountability frameworks in which institutions and individuals operate (UNFCCC, n.d.)
Capacity building thus encompasses a very wide range of actions including public awareness campaigns, community-based programmes, programmes for schools and other educational institutions, workshops and professional development, developing policies, financial mechanisms and legislation that support and promote climate action, and enhancing dialogue and collaboration between various agencies.
The need for capacity building for climate change mitigation and adaptation is well documented both internationally and locally. The UNFCCC recognized capacity building early on as one of the key strategies to tackle climate change, targeting primarily developing countries and countries in economic transition. In 2015, the UNFCCC renewed its commitment by establishing the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB) to address current and emerging gaps and needs in implementing and further enhancing capacity building in developing countries (UNFCCC, 2018).
Being a signatory to the UNFCCC, climate change capacity-building efforts in Seychelles are framed in these same terms. One of the first direct attempts to identify capacity building needs for climate change was undertaken in 2005 as part of the National Capacity Self-Assessment (NCSA). This exercise determined priority needs for developing Seychelles’ capacity to meet its commitments to the UNFCCC and other global environmental conventions. The report identifies a broad range of capacity needs related to integrated management and project development, data management, research and monitoring on climate variability, technology development, human resource development and education and awareness campaigns (GoS, 2005). Many of the recommendations related to climate change were highlighted again in the National Circumstances Report from the Second National Communication (SNC) to the UNFCCC (Agricole, 2009), integrated into Seychelles National Climate Change Strategy (NCCS) (GoS, 2009), and reiterated again in Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy (GoS, 2012). More recently, in 2015, Seychelles’ Intended Nationally Determined Contribution report to the UNFCCC again highlighted capacity building as a key issue (GoS, 2015). Out of all of these documents, the SSDS provides the most insight into Seychelles’ general approach to capacity building, recommending institutionalization of capacity building over limiting the scope to isolated projects and initiatives, in order to provide long-term sustainability and support (GoS, 2012, p.14).
Seychelles Research Journal, Volume 1, Number 2, August 2019 Page 69 The NCCS (2009) and the SNC (2009) both highlight climate change capacity in two different ways. Firstly, they emphasize specific capacity building that focuses largely on building technical scientific skills to support better climate/meteorological research, monitoring and modeling as well as gathering baseline information on natural and built environments to better support assessment and monitoring studies (GoS, 2009, p.54). Secondly, both documents refer to capacity building that is more general, in terms of education, awareness and development of courses related to climate change and sustainability more broadly. Most relevant to this paper, the NCCS (GoS, 2009) includes a chapter that focuses on education, awareness and training to support climate change mitigation and adaptation. The focus of this paper is primarily on capacity building activities that have been implemented under the GCCA+ programme, in support of this action plan.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to fully list or attempt to assess all climate change capacity building actions from across the NCSS that have been implemented to date. However, it is worth noting that over the past decade there have been a significant number of actions implemented in part or full through various projects and programmes implemented by the government and civil society organizations, and with support from international and regional programmes. Reviewing and assessing the scope of these collective actions will be the focus of Seychelles’ forthcoming Third National Communication to the UNFCCC. For this paper, the scope will be limited to reviewing and discussing actions which have been implemented under the GCCA+ project between 2017 and 2019, with reference to the objectives of the NCCS.
©Michele Martin, GCCA+ Seychelles 2019