Friday, 18 December 2015

Seychelles in the Spotlight

Seychelles Swaps its National Debt for Funds for Conservation Projects

Made up of 115 islands, Seychelles doesn't have a lot of land or a huge population, but we do have some amazing biodiversity. Fish and coral reefs throng the waters, and giant tortoises plod around on land. Seychelles is pretty serious about its conservation; our constitution even guarantees citizens the right to an ecologically healthy environment.

The original version of this article first appeared on

And, like many nations these days, Seychelles owes some debt. But something pretty clever just happened.

In a debt swap deal between the government of Seychelles, its international creditors, and The Nature Conservancy's NatureVest investment branch — plus some negotiating help from the French government — Seychelles may have just turned some of its national debt into money to protect our awesome environment.

Wait, how does that even work? Basically, Seychelles owed some people money. NatureVest came along and said, "You know that debt you owe? We'll loan you about $30 million so that you can pay some of it off. But, in return for paying of your debt, we want you to put the money you would have paid into this special trust fund we're setting up."

The trust fund, meanwhile, will use some of the money to reimburse NatureVest's initial investors (who ponied up most of the loan). But some of it will go into a long-term endowment too. And, a large chunk, about $6 million overall, will go to funding conservation projects.

So the creditors get paid, Seychelles gets more money for conservation, and NatureVest gets a little extra bang for its investment buck. It's kind of a win-win-win.

The plan will help turn about 100 million acres of sea into marine protected areas over about five years. That's an area larger than Germany! The money will also help fund projects to manage and protect their coasts, mangroves, and coral reefs.

This is really good news for Seychelles. Fishing and tourism combined make up about a third of all the jobs and a quarter of the GDP in Seychelles, so protecting our rich, beautiful waters is pretty important.


The deal couldn't come sooner. Climate change is going to make things rough. Seychelles, like a lot of low-lying island nations, is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Coral bleaching could kill off our reefs. Rising sea levels and stronger storms could flood our land. But this new deal could give Seychelles a little extra momentum in our preparations and response. If it turns out to be successful, it could be a blueprint for deals with other island nations.

Protecting our oceans is one of the best things we can do to ensure everyone access to a healthy, stable global environment. Thanks to this and other ongoing conservation efforts in Seychelles,our beautiful and pristine natural environment will remain yours to visit for years to come.

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