COVID-19, Blue Economy, and the Climate Change Agenda: The case of Seychelles

MALSHINI SENARATNE

The human toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating. At the same time, measures to tackle the crisis have affected national economies and grounded global trade to a halt. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as the Seychelles are amongst the countries that have suffered some of the worst economic impacts of the outbreak. The current situation illustrates the global state of unpreparedness for a pandemic and points to similar inadequacies vis-à-vis climate change. Already reeling from the adverse consequences of climate change, the Seychelles’ emerging Blue Economy (BE) entrepreneurial ecosystem has experienced significant losses. However, some of the measures taken may be indicative of the early stages of a revolution in policymaking. This brief discusses how similar strategies, such as the development of a resilient and sustainable BE, can be potentially applied to the climate change agenda in a post-COVID world.


Attribution: Malshini Senaratne, “COVID-19, Blue Economy, and the Climate Change Agenda: The Case of Seychelles,” ORF Issue Brief No. 360, May 2020, Observer Research Foundation.


INTRODUCTION

Located four degrees south of the equator, the Seychelles archipelago comprises 115 low-lying islands scattered across the Indian Ocean. It relies heavily on oceanic resources for livelihood generation and economic growth. Consequently, the country is particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.[1] In recent years, the government has sought to transition towards a more integrated and inclusive ocean-based economy. After successfully undertaking the world’s first debt-for-nature swap[2] in 2016, the Seychelles went on to implement a Blue Economy (BE) Strategic Roadmap in 2018 aimed at enhancing economic diversification, reducing small-sector vulnerability, and improving climate resilience.[3]

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