Seychelles is Escaping Debt by Pledging to Protect the Indian Ocean

Wikipedia // CC BY-SA 2.5
Wikipedia // CC BY-SA 2.5 / Wikipedia // CC BY-SA 2.5

Recently, the tiny, debt-ridden island nation of Seychelles agreed to a massive trade-off: They promised foreign investor group the Paris Club that they’d protect 30 percent of their 1.3 million square kilometer territory in the Indian Ocean, about 400,000 square kilometers, in exchange for $30 million in debt forgiveness. According to Climate Home, the deal will transform the Seychelles’ waters into the second-largest marine reserve in the Indian Ocean.

Grist reports that the deal occurred last month, and was overseen by the Nature Conservancy. It requires that the Seychelles “support adaptation to climate change through improved management of coasts, coral reefs, and mangroves.” The country must also designate about half of the protected ocean area as a no-fishing area, which will allow fish, coral, and turtles to grow and multiply.

The deal is good for the Seychelles marine environment—and for its economy. The nation wants to lower its public foreign debt from 150 to 50 percent of its national income by 2018. And as Grist points out, it also relies on fishing and tourism for money. Preserving its coral reefs and aquatic species will help to keep those revenue streams flourishing.

If you want a more nuanced explanation of the deal, check out NatureVest's great explainer below or read the Nature Conservancy's release in full.

[h/t Grist, Climate Home]