Innovative Seychelles debt-for-nature swap could be a model for the Caribbean

Aerial view of Aldabra in the Seychelles. Image credit: Simisa
Oceans
1

The Seychelles recently declared two new major marine protected areas as part of a groundbreaking new debt-for-nature swap:

The Seychelles has created two vast new marine protected areas in the Indian Ocean after a groundbreaking finance deal brokered by the Nature Conservancy and other stakeholders, including environmentalist and Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio.

In exchange for writing off a portion of its debt, the island nation agreed to protect a total of 81,000-square-miles of ocean—that’s about the size of Great Britain.

Seychelles was able to pay off an outstanding sovereign debt with $21 million raised by the Nature Conservancy. Future debt payments will go into a new trust, the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust, to finance new marine protection and climate adaptation projects

The scheme is understood to be the world’s first “debt-for-nature” finance plan designed to protect ocean environments. The agreement will also help the low-lying archipelago prepare for the effects of climate change, including warming and rising waters and ocean acidification, and to protect its vital tourism and $300-million-a-year fishing industry.

What makes this of particular interest to the Caribbean is that the Nature Conservancy is working on adopting/adapting the Seychelles debt-for-nature model for use in this region, likely in support of the Caribbean Challenge Initiative:

“This milestone MPA designation demonstrates how very important conservation outcomes can be generated with new financial tools,” said Mark Tercek, president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “This is a critical accomplishment in our mission to bring conservation to scale across the globe; what you see today in Seychelles is what we expect to introduce in the Caribbean and other ocean regions facing the threats of climate change.”

Some Caribbean countries, notably Belize [pdf] and Jamaica, have previous experience with debt-for-nature agreements, but the Seychelles example is the first instance of a debt-for-nature deal being used to finance marine conservation:

The Seychelles deal builds on 20 years’ worth of similar debt-for-nature swaps that have preserved vast tracts of tropical forests in Latin America and the Caribbean.

But it’s the first time the financing technique has been used to secure a marine environment, said Rob Weary, the head of NatureVest, which funds the group’s conservation deals.

“There’s not been one example of a country defaulting on a debt-for-nature swap,” he said.

Read more in reports from Ecowatch, The Nature Conservancy, and Reuters.

 

[Image: Simisa via Wikimedia Commons]

Tremendous outcome! I have watched, and even participated in some of the earlier debt for nature deals. I love how this one expands the reach of a proven tool to the marine space. Congratulations Rob and the team. Ken hines

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease in the Cayman Islands. Photo: Cayman Islands Department of Environment, via Cayman Compass.
Oceans
Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease detected in the Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands Department of Environment has discovered several incidences of Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease, the devastating infection that was first discovered on Florida’s coral reefs in 2014 and has since spread across the Caribbean region. Cayman Compass reports: Cayman’s reefs are under attack from the mysterious, but deadly …

CCI-CBF Week 2020.
Biodiversity
CCI-CBF Week: Nature-Based Solutions for our Caribbean Future

The Caribbean Challenge Initiative (CCI) and the Caribbean Biodiversity Fund (CBF) will be hosting the 2020 instalment of their annual CCI-CBF Week as a virtual event this year, from July 13 to 16, 2020. The theme of the 2020 CCI-CBF week is Nature-Based Solutions for our Caribbean Future, and there …

Coral bleaching. Image: Ken Clifton
Oceans
Research finds that in the Caribbean, overseas territories are more vulnerable to coral bleaching than independent countries

According to a new study, independent Caribbean island countries tend to be less vulnerable to coral bleaching than overseas territories: “We were surprised to find that independent islands have lower social-ecological vulnerability than territories…. Territories — such as the Dutch islands of Sint Maarten and Saba — tend to be …