"When you live on an island, climate change is a reality that you wake to face every day."
H.E. James A. Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles and Co-Chair of GLISPA
"By 2032, in the face of climate change threats, the Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge (WIOCC) will be a strong and vocal partnership of WIO island and coastal countries and stakeholders, working together to build and implement climate-resilient development options and strategies to achieve a balance between enhanced coastal livelihoods and economies and effective conservation of biodiversity, ultimately contributing to greater levels of social security among coastal communities."
First called for by the President of Seychelles, the WIOCC mobilizes the political, financial and technical commitment at national and regional levels to achieve the goals of existing Conventions and Strategic Action Plans such as the Nairobi Convention, United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and United Nations Framework for the Convention on Climate Change. It achieves this by inspiring leadership and facilitating collaboration towards the shared, long-term vision.
This will be achieved through:
- Building strong political commitment
- Effective engagement of and ownership by stakeholders;
- Setting-up sustainable financing mechanisms to sustain action over time
- Technical and policy support;
- Strengthening collaboration and broader experience sharing;
- Using science-based decision support and adequate knowledge management systems;
- Promoting integrated management and ecosystem-based approaches;
- Addressing information needs and gaps through focused research;
- Communication and social marketing; and
- Improving capacity at multiple levels.
This Challenge is proposed as an initiative that:
- Is open to national or local governments in the Western Indian Ocean and to local, national and international agencies and organizations who share its goals and objectives;
- Supports commitments based on national, regional, global and/or organizational priorities;
- Encourages collaboration among governments and partners; and
- Complements and supports, without duplicating, existing commitments that create synergies to ensure the effective use of limited human and financial resources.
The WIOCC was first proposed by the President of the Seychelles in 2007 as a "platform to galvanize political, financial and technical commitments and actions at national and regional levels on climate change adaptation, promoting resilient ecosystems (marine and coastal resources), sustainable livelihoods, and human security".
To realize his vision, consultations have been held with country representatives of the WIO and East Africa as well as with development partners in the region and at significant international meetings hosted by the Government of Seychelles. During Rio+20, the Vice President of Seychelles announced that the WIOCC has received funding from the European Union and with the support of the Indian Ocean Commission ISLAND Project the mobilization of WIO country level engagement and commitment to move forward the WIOCC to build a common vision and regional strategy that addresses climate change impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems.
The Western Indian Ocean Coastal Challenge (WIOCC) will mobilize the commitment to action necessary to achieve the goals of existing conventions and strategies such as the Nairobi Convention. This will be achieved by inspiring leadership, catalyzing resources and facilitating collaboration towards a shared, long-term vision. In 2011, funding was secured t o support mobilization of WIO country level engagement and to move the WIOCC forward. The efforts have resulted in the Parties to the Nairobi Convention encouraging participation and support in the WIOCC as a means to mobilize the political will and resources necessary to achieve the objectives of the Challenge and its strategic work.
The WIOCC was initially inspired from the Micronesia Challenge and Caribbean Challenge Initiative promoted through the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA). The visionary commitments of these leaders and others with GLISPA have helped to catalyze more than US$155 million dollars to support on the ground action for conservation of island biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods.
- More than 30 million people in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) islands and East African coastal communities rely on the coastal environment for goods and services and as a source of livelihoods and income
- The economic value of ecosystem goods and services is estimated to be over US$25 billion annually
- Tourism is the largest source of income directly linked to the coastal and marine environment, the region attracts over 20 million tourists that inject US$6 billion+ into economies annually
- Fisheries play an important role in WIO national economies providing from 5.0% to 99.1% of national agricultural exports as well as sources of employment, income and animal protein
The natural resources that fuel the Western Indian Ocean region's economic activity are under pressure from issues such as overfishing, overdevelopment, pollution and environmental degradation. Climate change is exacerbating these problems and present mounting challenges to the sustainable development of the region. In 1998, coral bleaching at an unprecedented scale caused widespread coral mortality across most of the western Indian Ocean, altering the goods and services provided by these reefs. There is urgent need for governments and stakeholders to come together and take action to combat climate change, conserve biodiversity and promote sustainable livelihoods to build resilience.
Urgent action is needed now!