“In 2012, an estimated 12.6 million deaths globally were attributable to the environment. The air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, and the ecosystems which sustain us are estimated to be responsible for 23 per cent of all deaths worldwide.”
This alarming statement is an excerpt from a recently published report by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). The report Healthy Environment, Healthy People was launched on 23rd May 2016 in marking the start of the second United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-2).
The report was prepared in collaboration with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Montreal Protocol and the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm conventions.
College students on a recent visit to the Heritage Garden for hands-on learning
In the report, several recommendations are proposed to curtail the negative impacts of the environment to human health. Presently, Nature Seychelles is the only organization in Seychelles following the new UNEP program Healthy Environment, Healthy People, through the Green Health Program.
The report states that climate change is recognised as a factor that increases health risks and will only worsen with increasing frequency and impacts of natural disasters as well as continued negative changes to the land, oceans, biodiversity and access to fresh water.
A recommendation to address health issues vis-à-vis the environment is to detoxify the environment. In one of the aspects focusing on land use, specifically agriculture, the report urges slashing the use of pesticides “through the promotion of integrated pest management and organic and sustainable farming systems.”
Nature Seychelles' Heritage Garden is a demonstration organic garden focusing on climate smart agriculture
Through Nature Seychelles’ Green Health Program, the organisation has been working to promote organic farming in Seychelles for conservation and indeed, better health. The Heritage (organic) Garden at Roche Caiman, which was officially opened on 9th October 2009, is a demonstration garden with traditional crops and medicinal herbs.
In further trying to encourage Seychellois to create their own organic gardens, Nature Seychelles additionally published the award winning book “Grow and Eat Your Own Food Seychelles”, with a second edition launched in 2014.
“I believe that if Seychellois can create their own edible landscapes, be it at home or even in public spaces, we can lessen many of the illnesses which have been on a sharp increase in recent years even in Seychelles which is per capita the most urbanised country in Africa,” says Dr Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles CEO. “When we set up the Green Health program, it was our hope that we might inculcate a more sustainable way of life as particularised in the recent UNEP report.”
The Sanctuary in Roche Caiman offers a space to practise Green Exercises surrounded by paradise
Whereas an unhealthy environment can be detrimental to our health, several studies over the years have proven that a healthy environment has profound benefit to our wellbeing. It is in this light that Nature Seychelles through the Green Exercise sessions tries to connect people with the environment for improved physical as well as mental wellbeing.
Seychelles is blessed with some of the most stunning natural vistas in the world. Nature Seychelles capitalises on this and Green Health members therefore have the opportunity to draw on the many health benefits of connecting with nature by participating in the fitness and green yoga sessions which are held at The Sanctuary in Roche Caiman.