Seychelles hosts regional African island states to examine Blue Economy ahead of UN climate change summit

Representatives from Seychelles and other African states shared experiences and identified challenges and opportunities in the Blue Economy in a regional conference hosted by the island nation for the first time.

The regional African island state conference organised from May 7-9 was hosted under the theme 'Creating a sustainable future of work and just transition towards the blue economy.'

Addressing participants on Thursday, the Minister of Employment, Immigration and Civil Status, Myriam Telemaque, said that the meeting was an opportunity for the African island states to learn from each other and engage in areas of cooperation.

Telemaque said that the government of Seychelles is also pledging its commitment to developing programmes of actions to implement the outcomes of the conference at national, regional and international level with the support of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The outcome of this conference also means that each time Seychelles is represented at events on the topic of the Blue Economy, it will be at the forefront to move this initiative forward, she added.

The outcome of the three-day discussions will be presented at the forthcoming United Nations Climate Change summit in September and the 14th Africa Regional Meeting in December.

At the opening on Tuesday, Seychelles' Vice President, Vincent Meriton, said, This meeting is a prime opportunity to bolster the socio-economic initiatives for the future of all our African island states, particularly in the domain of the Blue Economy and adaptation to climate change.

Meriton said that for Seychelles, the Blue Economy represents our model for a sustainable future, one which will generate a new wave of employment opportunities and economic growth.

''Working in these sectors is not new for Seychelles and a large number of jobs is created by the tourism and fisheries industries, contributing 25 percent and 8 percent respectively to the nation's GDP. These statistics show that the link between the environment, the economy and employment is real, he added.

Tourism and fisheries are the top two contributors to the economy of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.

Seychelles has made a lot of progress in its commitment to promoting a good working environment. These include the introduction of the 13th month of pay, an unemployment relief scheme for vulnerable groups and an increase in maternity leave from 14 to 16 weeks. As of January next year annual leave will increase from 21 to 24 days.

On her side, the ILO's assistant director-general and regional director for Africa, Cynthia Samuel-Olunjuwon, said, Island states of Africa should continue to explore ways to use the opportunities provided by the Blue Economy to build a brighter future of work.

Samuel-Olunjuwon expressed the hope that this week's deliberations will translate into concrete and tangible outcomes for the participating island states.

The ILO is supporting Africa in hosting for the first time the global youth employment forum to take place in Abuja, Nigeria in August of which one of the areas of focus will be the opportunities for decent work for young people in the Blue Economy. The outcome of this week's meeting in Seychelles will be incorporated in the forum, she added.

The ILO is a UN agency dealing with labour issues. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue on work-related issues.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

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