Islands ecosystems are home to millions of the world’s biodiversity, some of which are the world’s largest nesting sites for sea turtles, others with high endemism.

[ROCHE CAIMAN 19/08/2008] Islands ecosystems are home to millions of the world’s biodiversity, some of which are the world’s largest nesting sites for sea turtles, others with high endemism.
Ascension island has the second largest nesting site of the green turtle in the Atlantic, Gough island has the largest colonies of sea birds in the world, the Chagos reefs in the Indian Ocean are the world’s most preserved reefs while the French Guyana alone encloses more than half of the whole world’s animals and plants species including its 83 000 km2 of Amazonian forest.
These were the main issues covered during a recent conference in Reunion Island, where over 500 environmentalists gathered to compare notes under the theme “The European Union and its overseas Entities: Strategies to Counter Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss.” As the conference progressed, the New Caledonian lagoon was officially declared a World Heritage site. Nature Seychelles Education and Advocacy coordinator, Lyndy Bastienne represented Seychelles in the Conference.

Reunion Island, which is one of the European overseas entities, hosted for the first time a major conference which brought together representatives from all the European overseas entities and regional islands. The objective of the conference was to sensitize the world about the unique natural heritage of these countries and islands, and also to showcase opportunities that exist in those outermost countries for inventing future solutions for a sustainable environment. At the same time it was noted that these countries are exposed to the vagaries of climate change, which qualifies them for European support.

“This conference was meant to move forward by calling upon key partners notably political decision makers, environmental experts and NGOs at European, national, regional and local levels to come to a round-table and make concrete actions. An action plan was to be defined via the European Union (EU) regarding the issue of climate change adaptation, exemplary energy policies and the protection and sustainable management of biodiversity. This was also to re-enforce efficiency of environmental actions and corporation between EU, its member states, and the other overseas entities.” Says Lyndy who is at the centre of Nature Seychelles advocacy initiatives.
The one week conference consisted of plenary presentations, discussions, and concerns as well as separate parallel workshops which one could chose from the point of interest and benefits. Nature Seychelles was essentially concerned with those addressing the needs, the roles and challenges of E-NGOs, coastal and maritime policies and those about existing financial mechanisms addressing environmental issues. Field visits were also on the program where 48% of the island was declared national park.

Participants had an opportunity to make contacts, sharing experiences in natural resource conservation and management, building of eco-system resilience, education strategies, existing financing mechanisms and policies on sustainable energy, protection of coastal zone and marine resources.

The conference’s high points were the identification of adaptive strategies to combat climate change considering our islands vulnerabilities to such effects. To address the challenges, the vital roles of NGO such as Nature Seychelles were noted in building environmental constituencies. Governments too were tasked to provide economic and financial incentives and support research and education focusing on impacts of Climate change on people and biodiversity.

“The conference urged vulnerable small islands which depend heavily on imported resources including fossil fuels to seek for requisite eco-friendly and sustainable adaptive strategies to be better prepared from potential threats and damages. We do not have to wait for an intense hazard to make us realize how vulnerable we actually are!” Lyndy affirms. [ENDS]

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