Conservation finance: Seychelles' troubled waters

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By:
Kanika Saigal
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The Seychelles was the first country to issue a debt-for-nature swap to protect its marine environment; it was also the first to issue a blue bond, raising capital to finance sustainable marine and ocean-related projects. But can it overcome the teething problems and provide a model other island nations can follow?

Seychelles cover 780


Jason Barbe sits with a few other fishermen behind his boat on Glacis beach smoking a cigarette. Glacis is at the northern tip of Mahe Island, the biggest and most populated island of the Seychelles.

The fishermen at Glacis have just set up their own association. Barbe is a member and his nephew is its chair. Its members hope that they will be able to lobby the government to protect their fishing rights in the Seychelles; and perhaps even help the association access funding and subsidies to help them when they fall on hard times.

“Our voice is stronger when we speak collectively,” says Barbe.

Today isn’t a good day to fish so the Glacis fishermen haven’t been out on their boats.

“We have to go further and spend longer at sea to catch the fish we need to nowadays,” says Barbe, “but the weather hasn’t been good enough to do that in any case.”

These are some of the hard times that Barbe talks about. Overfishing, exploitation and climate change have devastated fish stocks, mangroves and coral reefs, which has had a knock-on effect on the livelihoods of the fishermen in the Seychelles, who are small-scale, low-technology and have little capital.

Jason Barbe_300

Jason Barbe and others formed the
Glacis Fishermen Association to
speak collectively and to help them
apply for grants from SeyCcat

Current trends outlined by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) found that while the tuna catch numbers in the Seychelles have increased year on year for the last three years, the catch rate has fallen. Data compiled by the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA) has highlighted similar issues with other species.

The IOTC has recommended that catch allowances for the region are cut – by 15% for the yellow fin tuna fishing boats – but so far there are few signs that these recommendations have been met. The fishermen believe that this is a sure sign that overfishing will continue. If things carry on the way they are, Barbe and his colleagues will find it difficult to make a living.

Meanwhile, experts believe that, since El Niño in 1998, the Seychelles’ may have lost up to 90% of its coral reef due to bleaching. The rise in ocean temperatures leaves coral reef colourless and vulnerable to the elements due to the loss of algae that are crucial for its survival.

When El Niño returned in 2015, coral coverage in the Seychelles was further reduced. Its continued depletion threatens the fish populations that have a symbiotic relationship with the reef.

But the rise of the ‘blue economy’ could change the future of the Seychelles.

The World Bank definition of blue economy is: the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.

This is an approach well-suited to the Seychelles, a country with a relatively small population of 94,000, spread across just a handful of the country’s 115 islands. The Seychelles has a land mass of 452 square kilometres while its marine areas make up an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 1,374,000km2.

Revenue from fisheries and tourism fuels the economy, and the sustainable use of the oceans to support the country’s two main industries is something that Barbe and his friends are on board with – as long as their livelihoods are protected.

But some of them worry that policies focused on creating a blue economy aren’t in place to support them.

“Everything the government does is for their own best interests,” says another fisherman, Leslie Pool, based at Roche Caiman on the east side of Mahe, closer to the country’s capital, Victoria.

“The idea of the blue economy is to protect the oceans, but I think this will actually end up being at our expense,” he says. “And the people in charge? They don’t seem to care what we think about the whole thing.”

While the World Bank has a neat theoretical definition of the blue economy, it is on the ground that the practical details are being worked out.

“In the Seychelles, we are still defining what a blue economy is, what it means for our country,” says Malshini Senaratne, the co-founder and director of Eco-Sol Consulting, a Seychelles consultancy firm that promotes environmentally sustainable development.

“If you were to ask people in the Seychelles what it means, it would be completely different person to person,” she says.

Sustainable tourism

In 2018, tourism and travel contributed just under 70% of total GDP for the Seychelles. Fishing makes up around 20% of GDP and 97% of total exports, thanks to the large industrial tuna fishing boats that come from the European Union and Korea, which have long-term contracts with the government of the Seychelles.

According to the World Bank, GDP growth in the Seychelles was 5.3% in 2017 and 3.6% in 2018. Current trends suggest that it will continue to fall to 3.4% in 2019 and 3% in 2020. The government hopes that it can reverse this through diversification and the sustainable use of its oceans.

“We can do better,” says Didier Dogley, the minister of tourism, civil aviation, ports and marine. Before his current post, Dogley was minister of environment, energy and climate change. “Our fishing industry has to go beyond exporting the raw materials. We should be able to process the fish we have – export tins of tuna, make leather out of fish skin, grind fish bones for fertilizer and more – to create a diverse economic base.

“Between April and November, when the weather is good, there is a glut of fish and the price goes down,” he says. “From November to April, the price of fish skyrockets because of the bad weather during the monsoon. Diversification will support fisheries income and this is central to our concept of the blue economy.”


Just because we are trying to achieve a lot doesn’t mean that it will not work, on the contrary, it means that the programmes we develop will be much more robust because they have been tested at various levels 
 - Wallace Cosgrow, minister for environment, energy and climate change

The aim is to give tourism a more pronounced sustainable direction. In 2012, the Seychelles introduced the sustainable tourism management and certification programme designed to encourage more efficient and sustainable ways of running tourism businesses. To date, 20 properties have been certified sustainable.

In 2015, the government introduced a moratorium on the building of large hotels – those with 25 rooms or more – until the end of the year to control the land on which hotels are built and to ensure that they adhere to certain sustainability measures.

“The Seychelles is a unique holiday destination where sustainability meets tourism, and we need to leverage off of this idea,” says Dogley.

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Jeremy Raguain, Seychelles Islands
Foundation

On Cousin Island, a small island a 20-minute flight northeast of Mahe, Nature Seychelles invites a small group of conservationists to stay for up to a month at a time to help survey flora and fauna. Some even have the opportunity to replant coral reef on the island’s shores – for a fee of around €1,500.

“People thought that the idea we could plant coral reef was ridiculous, but it worked,” says Nirmal Shah, chief executive of Nature Seychelles, the environmental conservation organization that manages Cousin Island. “We have seen that some of the coral reef is growing back due to some of the work we are doing.

“But on top of this, the money we charge for people to come and take part in our ‘conservation boot camp’ is all channelled back into our conservation projects. This is a model that other environmental organizations, guest houses and hotels can adopt on the island to reinforce the idea that the Seychelles is all about sustainability.”

No one in the Seychelles is against the sustainable use of the oceans for economic growth. But as well as the diversification of existing fisheries and the push for sustainable tourism, the Seychelles is exploring what might be considered their antithesis: oil and gas production and aquaculture. This is where things get a little more complicated.

Both oil and gas exploration and aquaculture have the potential to stimulate economic growth, improve livelihoods and create better jobs – all requirements of the blue economy. But whether they are good for the overall ecosystem in the Seychelles is up for debate.

“Oil and gas exploration sits within what we believe encapsulates the blue economy, where exploration itself should be – and can be – sustainable,” says Jean Paul Adam, minister of health for the Seychelles and previously minister of finance, trade and the blue economy.

But Jeremy Raguain, project officer of the Seychelles Islands Foundation, which manages and protects the Seychelles’ world heritage sites of Aldabra Atoll and Vallée de Mai, disagrees.

“In my opinion, the sustainable economic development of our oceans should not involve oil and gas exploration at all because this is not a renewable energy source,” he says. “The idea that oil and gas exploration can be sustainable is at odds with what I believe the blue economy is about.”


The idea that oil and gas exploration can be sustainable is at odds with what I believe the blue economy is about 
 - Jeremy Raguain, Seychelles Islands Foundation

There is a similar argument emerging around aquaculture. This year, the SFA plans to give out aquaculture licences to local investors for the first time, which will allow the farming of five fish species.

Karine Rassool, a PhD student at the University of York, is worried though: “I am concerned about the potential environmental impact of fish farms on the Seychelles, and the amount of resources – both financial and human – that have been invested in this project already.

“Firstly, the aquaculture project is being advocated as one of the solutions to the over-exploitation of fish stocks, but no effort has been made to implement other measures, for example restricting the number of fishing licenses allocated, which would be less costly and definitely less risky. Meanwhile, wild fish stocks that are thought to be overexploited are not attributed the same amount of importance or attention.

“My second issue is to what extent will locals will benefit from this project? The increased availability of fish will bring down its price and will have an adverse impact on the livelihoods of fishermen.

“And thirdly, aquaculture is bound to have environmental consequences that could be detrimental to the pristine image Seychelles uses to market itself as a high-end, luxury destination,” she says.

Pool has similar worries.

“Fish farming will push the price of fish down further for us. We are already struggling to survive on what we do catch, so why would we back something that damages our livelihoods even further?” he asks.

Both oil and aquaculture could change how the Seychelles’ blue economy develops.

“That’s the thing,” says Senaratne. “The push for the blue economy and its definition is being led from the top. There needs to be a lot more done to look at what communities want from the Seychelles’ move to a blue economy. And we are only just beginning to do that.

“And once we have done this research, once we have collected all the data, this could completely change the model.”

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Karine Rassool and Leslie Pool. Fishermen such as Pool are concerned about the impacts of moving to a blue economy on their livelihoods. Rassool is conducting a socio-economic survey so there will be data to judge effects


Country of extremes

The Seychelles has many of the hallmarks of a developing country. Make-shift stalls line the coastal pathways, while modern arcades are filled with boutiques aimed at tourists that have cash to spend. Luxury hotels and resorts abound.

The roads across Mahe and Praslin – two of the Seychelles’ most populated islands – can just about handle the thousands of cars that use them each day. Traffic is getting worse and, although the island is small, at peak times it can take up to 40 minutes to travel the four kilometres from Beau Vallon Beach on the northwest coast of Mahe to Victoria.

There is money in the Seychelles, but it is in the hands of the few. A recent study by the Seychelles National Bureau of Statistics found that among a sample of 5,910 homes, 1,363 households were classified as living in inadequate housing conditions and 137 houses were deemed “not fit for human habitation”. The majority of these households were run by single parents, mostly women, in low-paid jobs.

On top of this, the Seychelles is battling a heroin addiction issue that affects around 6,000 people across the country, the equivalent of around 10% of the working population.

“Heroin touches everyone,” says Michelle Sabury, who works in the office of the Agency for Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation in the Seychelles. “And it is having devastating effects on our communities.”


This is not just a loan for a new fishing boat or for new fishing equipment. These are loans designed to diversify the economy 
 - Daniel Gappy, Development Bank of the Seychelles

In 2015, the Seychelles was classified as a high-income country. Classification is based on gross national income (GNI) per capita. According to the World Bank, GNI in the Seychelles was $14,170 in 2017. Its high-income status means that the country can no longer access concessional lending from the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.

Many ministers and secretaries of state in the Seychelles, including Adam and Dogley, advocate for a new international definition of poverty that takes into account the demographics of small island nations.

“A handful of rich people in a small country such as the Seychelles skews income per capita,” says Adam. “There are much better ways to assess whether or not we should be able to access concessional funding.”

The Vulnerability Index, a measure of the exposure of a population to environmental, political and economic hazards, is a solution.

“We are working on a draft proposal with the World Bank to make this the standard measure of our vulnerability in the Seychelles,” says Adam.

But for now, the Seychelles will remain a country of extremes.

“There is in-your-face, over-the-top luxury and wealth in some parts of the island, but in other parts there are people who have absolutely nothing,” says Rachel Bristol, a conservation biologist who lives on Mahe.

“I don’t blame the government for looking at oil and gas exploration to lift up the community,” says one environmentalist based in the Seychelles. “What would you do if some of the people in your country don’t have a proper home to live in?”

To correct the balance, the Seychelles will have to exercise fiscal discipline and raise debt. But given that the country cannot currently access concessional funding, it will need to be creative.

“I think that the debt-for-nature swap and the blue bond were marketing tools used for the Seychelles to raise debt when other channels were not open to them,” says the environmentalist. “Sustainable finance, conservation finance – these are all buzzwords at the moment, so it was an easy sell. But only time will tell if this is a good instrument for the Seychelles or not.”

Economic turmoil

In 2008 the Seychelles was in economic turmoil. The country had the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world at 192% – far higher than Greece at the time – and inflation was over 30%, due in large part to the country’s socialist development strategy, which had prioritized subsidies over fiscal constraint for over 30 years.

With the growing international financial crisis, the Seychelles hit breaking point and defaulted on its payments. By the end of the year, the IMF stepped in with a bailout programme worth $26 million. A period of radical reform followed and, slowly, the Seychelles began to recover.

By the summer of 2009, Paris Club creditors had forgiven 45% of Seychelles’ $80 million debt. A similar agreement with other private creditors came to fruition in 2010. Five years later, when the Seychelles hoped to renegotiate the rest of its debt with the Paris Club, the idea of a debt-for-nature swap came to fruition.

“Talks about a debt-for-nature swap began around 2012 when the Nature Conservancy (TNC) came to us with the idea,” says Adam. “This was a way that would help manage our debt and put conservation at the centre of our development. It felt like a win-win.”

In 2015, TNC raised $15.2 million in impact capital loans and $5 million in grants to buy back $21.6 million of Seychelles debt held with the Paris Club – the difference was discounted.

Around $5 million from the restructured debt was to be channelled through an independent public-private trust fund, called the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCcat), to finance marine conservation and climate adaptation projects. The government would also repay $15.2 million at 3% over 10 years to TNC.


Calling it a swap was misleading, I think, because people in the Seychelles thought that the debt had been forgiven. A buy back, or restructuring, is a much more accurate description 
 - Helena Sims, Seychelles Marine Spatial Planning Initiative

One of the biggest conditions of the debt swap was the identification and signing into law of 30% of the exclusive economic zone as marine protection areas. Half of the protected EEZ area will constitute high biodiversity areas that will not permit extraction activities; the remaining 15% will be marked medium biodiversity and can be used sustainably.

At the time the swap was being negotiated, only 0.4% of the EEZ was protected.

The debt-for-nature swap was the breakthrough the government needed to spearhead its conservation goals.

“Calling it a swap was misleading, I think, because people in the Seychelles thought that the debt had been forgiven,” says Helena Sims, project manager for the Seychelles Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Initiative. “A buy back, or restructuring, is a much more accurate description.”

Adam says: “In some respects, the debt-for-nature swap was a way to transform sovereign debt into a semi-concessional loan because of the discount we negotiated.

“We hoped to negotiate a better haircut, but we had only just transitioned into a high-income country, so the Paris Club wouldn’t agree to an additional discount. We wanted something closer to the 30% mark, but we managed to get something closer to 5%.”

Developing the blue economy

In October 2018, the Seychelles was the first country to issue a $15 million blue bond from three main investors – Calvert Impact Capital, Nuveen and Prudential. Standard Chartered acted as placement agent for the banks and the bond was guaranteed by the World Bank.

Its proceeds will be used to develop the Seychelles’ blue economy. Through the bond, SeyCcat received another $3 million for grants. The Development Bank of the Seychelles (DBS) is in charge of the rest, which is to be distributed as loans via its Blue Investment Fund (BIF).

“The aim is that the grantees can graduate to accessing a loan from the DBS,” says Angelique Pouponneau, SeyCcat’s chief executive. “The grants can be used to de-risk business – as well as to support a variety of other conservation projects across the archipelago.”

Small and medium-sized businesses can go directly to the DBS for a loan – but they have to be the right type of business.

“This is not just a loan for a new fishing boat or for new fishing equipment,” says Daniel Gappy, chief executive of the DBS. “These are loans designed to diversify the economy. These are loans for the entrepreneurs out there: the people that want to add value to our fisheries industries.”

The terms are favourable; the interest rate is 4% a year over a maximum of 15 years.

The debt-for-nature swap and the blue bond are separate but connected instruments. At one level, there are grants aimed at carving out the MSP and to find whether or not small-scale companies have the capacity to become bigger businesses and add value to Seychelles’ fisheries and tourism industries.

At another, via the blue bond, there are loans that aim to take small-scale businesses to the next level.

The reality, however, is slightly more complicated.

SeyCcat has already awarded a number of grants since its inception.

Earlier this year, John Nevill received SRe498,000 ($36,500) for a parrotfish project.

“Research in the Caribbean shows that protecting parrotfish populations can improve coral cover on reefs, but we don’t have any parrotfish data in the Seychelles at the moment,” says Nevill, an environmental consultant. “I’m working on creating a database of parrotfish catch, species composition, seasonality and size to inform the final areas of the MSP.”

Four days a week, Nevill makes his way to the central fish market in Victoria or one of the many small-scale fishing ports in Mahe to speak to fishermen about their catch and take various data to determine the catch demographics for the parrotfish.

“The worry is that the catch and mean size of fish is getting smaller – a sign that there is overfishing going on,” he says. “We will need a few years of data to determine whether this is the case or not, but anecdotally this is what the fishermen tell me.”

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Parrot fish are signals of, particularly, coral-reef health. There is not accurate data, but the worry is that catches and the mean size of the fish are getting smaller, indicating overfishing


PhD student Rassool is another beneficiary; she is conducting a socio-economic baseline survey of small fishermen in Seychelles. The results could provide useful information to assist with the implementation of the demersal fisheries management plan, which has been drafted since 2015 and is scheduled for implementation later this year.

Senaratne at Eco-Sol also received a grant from SeyCcat – the only private company to do so – and is using the SRe597,000 to study the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Seychelles.

“Our research and surveys could help direct DBS investment, find the entrepreneurs in the country and the potential industries worth developing,” she says.

These grant projects are connected by the fact that they will help inform the rest of the MSP; they will be used to determine areas that need to be protected and highlight areas central to fisheries.

Sims says: “Twenty-six percent of the MSP in the EEZ has been approved as marine protection areas; so that means 4% is left.

“This last 4% has to include shallow waters, where users include fisheries. This last milestone will be the hardest to determine because of how central the areas are to the livelihoods of the different marine users.

“It is hence important to balance the economic and social objectives with that of biodiversity protection by working with the different marine users to understand their activities, the areas of value to them and to determine any possible compromises for marine protections.

“We will need to work with the fishermen, use all the data we have and are receiving through SeyCcat funded projects to inform our decisions and any future revisions that may be required,” she says.

For Sims, decisions around the MSP have been a bottom-up process.

“We present each and every stage of identifying new zones of the MSP to stakeholders in open public meetings, MSP stakeholder committee meetings, advertisements in the local paper and online” she says. “Once we have agreement, the areas are approved by the cabinet of ministers. The whole process is transparent. If any sector has an issue with a proposed zone, then it is back to the drawing board for us.

“There have been a lot of compromises. It is important to ensure that all stakeholders are on board,” she adds.


There are so many of these small things that all add up and impact our lives for the worse. Why would we believe that the final plans for the MSP will work in our favour? 
 - Leslie Pool, fisherman

Some of the fishermen Euromoney spoke to don’t see it that way, however. Fuelled by a deep distrust of authority and government, fishermen in the Seychelles remain sceptical that the MSP and the development of the blue economy is in their best interests.

“Things are only getting harder for us,” says Pool. “Over fishing has depleted stocks and means that we can’t catch as much fish as we used to. On top of this, fuel subsidies we receive for our fishing boats have moved from the SFA to the Seychelles Revenue Commission, which has made the process a whole lot harder.”

Bycatch laws have also recently changed, which has also made life more difficult for local fishermen. Bycatch is the unwanted fish and other marine creatures trapped by commercial fishing nets.

From April 2018, the Seychelles requires all bycatch to be brought to land so it can be sold or processed, rather than being thrown back to sea and wasted. But only a few companies in the Seychelles have licences that allow them to buy the bycatch in the first place. None of these have been given to small fishing groups.

“We could sell the catch or use it as bait, but we aren’t able to do this,” says Pool. “There are so many of these small things that all add up and impact our lives for the worse. Why would we believe that the final plans for the MSP will work in our favour?”

Some of the fishermen that Euromoney spoke to told of stories of alleged corruption and mismanagement that have made them question the validity of the current leadership.

“One local councillor told me they would pay for my wife’s medical bills if I voted for them, so I did,” says another fisherman based at Roche Caiman. “But they didn’t follow through on their promise, so now I am crippled with debt. Why would I trust them with anything else they say?”

Seychelles’ ministers envisage a blue economy that works to lift up an entire population and improve livelihoods. Fishermen see the blue economy and the MSP as another way to benefit the country’s already wealthy political class.

“The rules aren’t enforced fairly across the board,” says Pool.

Changing tack

Getting people to apply for SeyCcat grants has been a struggle. When Pouponneau became chief executive of SeyCcat, nine months ago, it seemed that few people knew that the grants existed.

“When the call went out for the first round of grant applications in 2017, we received 10 proposals and approved six; the following year, we got 15 and approved seven of these,” says Pouponneau. “We were trying to give away money, but nobody seemed to want it. It was unbelievable.

“We realized that our strategy was wrong. We were putting out adverts in the local newspapers, putting posters at ports inviting the local fishermen to come to our offices where we could explain the SeyCcat grants – the application process, how much money was available and what it could be used for – but people weren’t turning up. We soon realized that we were planning these meetings when they were at the market, selling their catch. Of course they weren’t going to come.

“So we changed tack. We went to the landing sites to speak to the fishermen and tell them what we had to offer. Sometimes we would have to wait for hours for them to finish selling their catch before they would listen. But we persisted. Even with only two of us in the team, we managed to speak with 170 people within six weeks,” says Pouponneau.

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Angelique Pouponneau, SeyCcat

As well as meeting potential grantees face to face, Pouponneau and her colleague in the SeyCcat office have set up capacity building workshops to show Seychellois how to fill out the application form and develop business plans. Pouponneau’s perseverance has paid off: this year SeyCcat had received 49 applications for grants.

“If we had more resources we could do much, much more,” she says.

Jason Barbe hopes to be one the next recipients of a SeyCcat grant.

“This is one of the reasons we developed the Glacis Fishermen Association,” he says. “It is a vehicle through which we can apply for grants, funding and other government support.”

The DBS has had much less luck. To date, no loans have been issued from the BIF and there have only been a few eligible applications in any case.

“I think there is a lot of confusion around what the BIF is about,” says Gappy. “We have guidelines about the type of investments we are looking for – projects that will add value or diversify to the economy of the Seychelles – but so far the message hasn’t gotten across. Sometimes, we have people asking for loans for boats and, while we have other funds within the bank, this is not the purpose of the BIF.

“We still need to educate applicants.”

Some people in the Seychelles wonder if the DBS is reluctant to dole out loans via the BIF in the first place because of the default risk.

Current non-performing loan ratios at the DBS aren’t excessive, but they aren’t great either. In the bank’s latest financial report, the NPL ratio averaged 9.52% for 2018, up from 6.72% in 2017. At its highest point in 2018, October, it hit 11.9%.

Technically, the BIF is backed by the World Bank, but if Seychellois begin to default on their loans, it doesn’t send a positive message to the international community.

The DBS, however states that it is just waiting for eligible projects to come to it.

On the ground, there are rumours of people taking loans for boats from the DBS never to be seen again. Across the Seychelles, hundreds of boats registered as commercial fishing boats line the harbours, the majority of them registered as fishing boats, but many of them never go out for that purpose. Instead, they are registered to benefit from fuel subsidies.

“During my research, I discovered that this is actually a major problem,” says Rassool. “More work will need to be carried out to collate exact values, but in general, a lot of the vessels present at landing sites have been abandoned or don’t go out fishing – this latent fishing capacity should be a great concern, because if activated, it could substantially change the industry.”

And if the DBS received legitimate applications for BIF funds, would there be enough of them?

“We are in a bit of a tricky situation,” says the anonymous environmentalist. “Firstly, I’m not sure the Seychelles can absorb all the debt for the blue bond in any case because we are a small country of 94,000 people: $15 million is a lot.

“But at the same time, we cannot fail. We are setting the standard as the first island nation to raise debt this way. If we can’t do it, I doubt we would be able to return to the international capital market on favourable terms.”

Teething problems

The development of the Seychelles’ blue economy has been complex. It is a concept driven from the top while engaging a grassroots that, in some cases, does not appear to be fully on board with the concept. Meanwhile, grants from the blue bond are being channelled into projects designed for mapping out the MSP – a condition of the debt-for-nature swap agreed four years before the bond came to fruition.

But the Seychelles aims to do something that no other island nation – no other country in fact – has tried to before, so it is not surprising there are teething problems.

“This is the first of its kind, so there are going to be teething problems,” says Wallace Cosgrow, the minister for environment, energy and climate change.

“Just because we are trying to achieve a lot doesn’t mean that it will not work, on the contrary, it means that the programmes we develop will be much more robust because they have been tested at various levels.”

Policymakers are becoming increasingly aware of the issues that could stall the Seychelles’ development of the blue economy and are taking steps to overcome them.

“I’m confident that this model will work for the Seychelles,” says Gappy. “We have the support of the government, the support of the World Bank and the support from the international community. Education is necessary and it is something we are working on, but this is natural when you are pioneering a new product.”

Schools are teaching children about the blue economy. Associations such as Barbe’s are coming together to tap into the opportunities the blue bond offers. Meanwhile individuals on the ground, including Pouponneau at SeyCcat and Sims at the MSP Initiative, will continue to spread the blue economy message to the masses.

Eventually, the Seychelles will act as case study for how other island countries can raise debt via the international capital markets and develop their own blue economies.