'Small islands have big ideas,' Ban tells Seychelles, citing leadership on environment, climate action

7 May 2016

The problems facing our planet – climate change, poverty and insecurity – will only be solved through a global, multilateral response, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today as he began an official visit to the Seychelles, a small island nation with “big ideas,” having shown leadership on climate action, environmental protection and the fight against maritime crime.

“These islands are famous for their natural beauty. Earlier this afternoon, I visited the breathtaking Valle de Mai Nature Reserve. I think that this is a common asset for the whole humanity and thank you for preserving all this very valuable treasure of humanity,” Mr. Ban told reporters in Victoria, the archipelago's capital city.

Having wrapped up fruitful meetings with President James Alix Michel and his cabinet members, the UN chief said he is confident that the leadership will continue to build on Seychelles' record as a strong and vibrant democracy.

“I am even more impressed by the Seychelles' sense of responsibility in our world,” the Secretary-general continued, thanking the Government and people for their leadership on key issues on the international agenda, particularly the country's early ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“You are one of the 16 countries who have ratified at such an early stage. I sincerely hope that you will exercise your political leadership to encourage many other countries to follow suit. You and your peers have shown that small islands have big ideas and big political will,” said the Secretary-General.

He went on to say that the UN also appreciates Seychelles' leadership on the problem of piracy as Chair of the Contact Group on piracy off the coast of Somalia – and noted that he was encouraged that since 2013, no commercial shipping vessels have been kidnapped by pirates – [and such] common solidarity and commitment on tackling transnational crime in the region, while respecting international norms and human rights.

“I applaud Seychelles for working with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to ensure that suspects are given fair and efficient trials,” said Mr. Ban, the first-ever UN chief to visit the country, noting that tomorrow he would visit a coastguard station and he looks forward to hearing about approaches to maritime crime.

Recalling that the Seychelles are highly vulnerable to storm surges, as had been made clear by the recent devastating effects of Cyclone Fantala, the Secretary-General noted that preventing and preparing for natural disasters in partnership with local and national governments will be one focus of the World Humanitarian Summit he will convene in Istanbul, Turkey, on 23rd and 24th May.

“I hope the Seychelles will bring its expertise to the table,” he said.

Mr. Ban also noted that this s is the first year of implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda , the universal, integrated and transformative agenda to end poverty and need and build a more sustainable world on a healthy planet over the next 15 years.

“The Seychelles is in an excellent position to build on its record of protecting the environment, creating sustainable livelihoods and increasing the use of renewable energy. The United Nations stands ready to work with you for a better future on a cleaner planet,” concluded the Secretary-General.


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