As a medium to high developing country according to the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), Seychelles has found it increasingly difficult to find development assistance, grants or concessionary credit for some years now.
The GEF is the only international body that has consistently provided major grants to Seychelles. The GEF has funded 10 projects for Seychelles since 1993 ranging from a full size one for Biodiversity Conservation and Marine Pollution Abatement to Medium Size projects and what is termed “Enabling Activities” which provide support to meet the requirements of international environment conventions.
The GEF has also approved 7 new regional and global projects in which Seychelles is involved. Seychelles currently has some projects pending with the GEF including a large one called Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Production Sectors which has now been approved this month for USD 3.7 million.
The GEF is a global mechanism consisting of 176 member countries. It deals with global environmental issues while supporting national sustainable development initiatives. It supports projects in the areas of biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer and persistent organic pollutants. GEF projects are implemented through three “Implementing Agencies” UNDP, UNEP and the World Bank.
I have been fortunate in having been involved in writing and implementing several projects financed by the GEF. Between 1991 to 1992 I worked with World Bank and United Nations specialists to develop the Biodiversity Conservation and Marine Pollution Abatement project. The GEF disbursed 1.8 million US Dollars for this project.
In 1997, a National Biodiversity Assessment and a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan were developed under a GEF funded project. I had the privilege of being the co-ordinator of this project.
The GEF has also made available funds for civil society. Nature Seychelles received a Medium Size Project grant amounting to 742,000 US Dollars in 1998. I wrote this project to restore ecosystems, as well as another one for Marine Ecosystem Management for the Government and the NGO, MCSS. The GEF is also supporting a project for the management of privately run high-biodiversity islands in Seychelles, a partnership between Cousine and Cousin islands.
The GEF is a unique funding body which has provided real benefits to Seychelles. However, there is huge competition from all around the world to access GEF financing. Novel partnerships between the Government, NGO and private sectors are clearly one way forward if we want to gain more support for our efforts.
Nirmal Shah, The People, 13/9/2006