Monday, February 26, 2024

How The Seychelles Is Bringing Eco Luxury to the Indian Ocean

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The Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label, the debt-for-nature swap, and the Renewable Energy Project are just some of the island nation’s efforts that demonstrate its commitment to sustainability.

The Seychelles’ 115 islands are known for pristine beaches, diverse marine life, and rich biodiversity. But as a small island nation heavily reliant on tourism, the Seychelles faces unique sustainability challenges.

At the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) meeting this week, Seychelles government officials and UNSDCF officials say they will establish how the UN can support Seychelles in implementing its sustainable development plans from 2024 to 2028.

Naadir Hassan, the Minister for Finance, Economic Planning and Trade, stated in his opening address that Seychelles is currently drafting its development strategies. He emphasized that changes in the world, including the covid pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, have prompted Seychelles and the UN to reevaluate their priorities. The UN is aligning its programs with Seychelles’ needs to ensure that the two plans are in sync with each other.

seychelles beach
The Seychelles is becoming a sustainable oasis in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Photo courtesy Secret Travel Guide | Unsplash

Elizabeth Agathine, the principal secretary for economic planning, explained that the Seychelles government’s strategies are designed to view everything holistically at a national level. She also stressed the importance of developing capacity within the country to ensure that the priorities are successful. Seychelles faces challenges such as strengthening its digital ecosystems and creating a new SDG stimulus initiative with better lending terms.

Sustainable tourism

Tourism is a major contributor to the Seychelles’ economy, but it also poses significant environmental challenges, including pressure on natural resources and increased waste generation. To address these challenges, the Seychelles government has made sustainable tourism a top priority. In 2018, the Seychelles launched the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label (SSTL), which is awarded to accommodations, tour operators, and other tourism-related businesses that meet strict sustainability criteria.

According to the Seychelles Tourism Board, as of March 2022, 63 businesses have been awarded the SSTL, including 26 hotels and resorts, 22 guesthouses, 8 tour operators, and 7 restaurants. To achieve the SSTL, businesses must demonstrate a commitment to sustainable practices in areas such as energy and water conservation, waste reduction, and support for local communities.

seychelles beach
Sustainable tourism is helping move The Seychelles’ economy forward. Photo courtesy Lorenzo Spoleti | Unsplash

Julia Hendry, CEO of Green Tourism Seychelles, an organization that promotes sustainable tourism in the Seychelles, says sustainable tourism is beneficial for both the environment and the economy.

“Sustainable tourism not only helps to protect the environment and promote biodiversity conservation, but it also creates economic opportunities for local communities,” Hendry says. “By promoting sustainable practices in the tourism industry, we can ensure that the Seychelles remains a world-class tourist destination for generations to come.”

Ocean conservation

While the Seychelles is home to a robust fishing industry, overfishing and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing pose significant threats to the country’s marine resources. To address these challenges, the Seychelles has implemented several initiatives to promote sustainable fisheries.

In 2016, the Seychelles government entered into a debt-for-nature swap with The Nature Conservancy and the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust. Under the agreement, the Seychelles government committed to designating 30 percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as protected areas and to implement sustainable fishing practices. In exchange, the debt owed by the Seychelles to the Paris Club of creditor nations was reduced by $21.6 million.

a woman swims in clear water
A woman swims in clear water, courtesy Shifaaz shamoon | Unsplash

According to the Seychelles Fishing Authority, the country has implemented various measures to protect wild fish species, including limiting fishing permits, implementing a vessel monitoring system, and establishing marine protected areas. As a result of these measures, the Seychelles has seen an increase in fish populations, including tuna.

Sustainable energy

As a small island nation heavily reliant on imported fossil fuels, the Seychelles faces significant energy challenges, including high costs and energy insecurity. To address these challenges, the Seychelles has implemented several initiatives to promote renewable energy.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the Seychelles had a renewable energy share of 15.3 percent in 2020, with solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power being the primary sources of renewable energy. Seychelles has set a target of achieving 25 percent renewable energy by 2030.

hilton seychelles
Energy conservation and waste management have helped Seychelles meet its sustainability targets. Photo courtesy Datingscout | Unsplash

In 2018, the Seychelles government launched the Renewable Energy Project, which aims to install solar PV systems on public buildings and private residences. The project is expected to generate 5.6 MW of solar energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 5,800 metric tons per year.

Sustainable waste management

Waste management is a significant challenge for the Seychelles, with limited land for landfill sites and high levels of waste generation per capita. To address these challenges, the Seychelles government has implemented several initiatives to promote sustainable waste management.

According to the Seychelles Ministry of Environment, Energy, and Climate Change, the country generates approximately 45,000 tons of waste per year, of which only 20 percent is recycled. The Seychelles has implemented several measures to promote recycling and reduce waste, including the establishment of recycling centers and the implementation of a waste segregation program. In addition, the Seychelles government has banned the importation of certain single-use plastic items, including straws, plastic cutlery, and polystyrene food containers.

Seychelles hotel
Waste management is key for the 115 Seychelles islands. Photo courtesy Francesca Saraco | Unsplash

In 2021, the Seychelles government launched the Sustainable Waste Management Project, which aims to improve waste management practices and increase the country’s recycling rate. The project is being implemented with the support of the European Union and is expected to reduce waste generation by 30 percent, increase the recycling rate to 35 percent, and create green jobs.

“The Seychelles is a small island developing state that is heavily reliant on its natural resources,” Dr. Nirmal Jivan Shah, CEO of Nature Seychelles, said in a statement. “Ensuring their sustainable management is critical for the country’s long-term economic and social development. We need to continue to promote sustainable practices in areas such as tourism, fisheries, energy, and waste management to protect our natural resources for future generations.”

Sustainable Seychelles hotels

A number of hotels in the Seychelles have implemented measures to minimize their environmental footprint and contribute to the conservation of the country’s natural resources. These hotels prioritize sustainability in their operations, from energy and water conservation to waste management and the use of eco-friendly products.

hilton seychelles
Courtesy

Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa, Silhouette Island

The Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa has implemented several eco-friendly practices, including the use of solar panels to generate electricity, a rainwater harvesting system to reduce water consumption, and the implementation of a recycling program to reduce waste.

The resort has also partnered with the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles to support the conservation of the country’s marine life. The hotel offers guided tours of the island’s coral reefs, allowing guests to learn about the importance of marine conservation and the threats facing the Seychelles’ marine ecosystems.

Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Felicite Island
Courtesy

Six Senses Zil Pasyon, Felicite Island

Located on the private island of Felicite, this Six Senses resort has been designed to blend in with its natural surroundings, with buildings constructed from natural materials such as wood and stone. The Six Senses Zil Pasyon has implemented several eco-friendly practices, including the use of solar panels to generate electricity, a desalination plant to reduce water consumption, and the implementation of a waste management program to reduce waste.

The Six Senses Zil Pasyon has also partnered with the Island Development Company (IDC) to support the conservation of the Seychelles’ natural resources. The hotel offers guests the opportunity to participate in conservation activities such as coral reef monitoring and beach cleanups, allowing them to contribute to the protection of the country’s marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

The Banyan Tree Seychelles, Mahe Island
Courtesy

The Banyan Tree Seychelles, Mahe Island

Another example of sustainability is the Mahe island Banyan Tree Seychelles. The hotel uses solar panels to generate electricity, a rainwater harvesting system to reduce water consumption and has resort-wide efforts in place to reduce waste.

The Banyan Tree Seychelles has also partnered with the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles to support the conservation of the country’s marine life. Like Six Senses, guests can participate in marine conservation activities such as turtle monitoring and beach cleanups.

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