By N.Tirant, Today in Seychelles. At the opening of the Seychelles-Reunion sustainable energy fair yesterday I listened attentively to the Environment and Energy Minister Rolph Payet touting Seychelles’ green credentials. But I could not help but note that the minister forgot to mention those huge links that Seychelles has established with dirty fossil-fuel. Seychelles only very recently entered the renewable energy sector. Until the wind turbines became operational mid-year, polluting diesel generators have been the only source of electricity and we all use oil-powered vehicles. All this time the country has been spending billions of Rupees buying fossil fuels as well as the infrastructure needed to store and use the fuel.
Contributed by Paul Chow: Seychelles is comprised of only 3 islands, out of 115, that have permanent population. These three islands are situated within a range of 30 kilometers of each other, despite our economic zone stretching over a million square kilometers of the Indian Ocean. The largest island is roughly 20 kilometers by 7 kilometers. Urbanization, therefore, has a completely different meaning for our tiny capital city, Victoria, than Nairobi for example, famous for two large townships or slums comprising of millions of formerly rural peasants, all living a miserable existence in search of a better standard of living around the city.
The Memorial Mural to the victims of the 1862 “Lavalas” comes at a time when natural disasters have been a national preoccupation since the 1998 El Nino-induced rains and the huge downpour after the Tsunami. Yet 35 years ago I heard the head of the International Red Cross say ‘there is no such thing as a natural disaster. There are only man-made ones.’
Almost everybody I met over the last couple of weeks had opinions about the storm surge that battered some of our islands. The dredging of sand off Beau Vallon of course has been debated even in the media. In a book published by the World Bank, Sida and the Seychelles Government back in 1995 I had predicted that storm surges and coastal development would collide leading to disasters.
President James Michel has said that the populace should share ownership of coastal areas. The President made this landmark statement recently during his visit to erosion-prone coastal areas. The President said the public cannot rely on government to do everything. I believe this is one of the most important policy statements about management of the environment in the last 30 years.