Voices from the Seychelles

28 Oct 2010

As the sun rises over Baie Lazare in the Seychelles, I think about the similarities between the Arctic and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that lie at the root of the Many Strong Voices programme. The view in front of me is tropical -- just south of the equator the day is dawning to the sound of surf on the beach, birds chirping and the promise of heat. Not so long ago I experienced similar mornings on the deck of a ship in the Arctic. There, even in summer, the morning air had a bite to it and you didn't go out without proper clothing.

So what does the Seychelles have to do with the Arctic? We are here because both the Arctic and SIDS have common cause in the struggle to adapt to the immediate and long-term effects of climate change, and the need to get to get the world, especially the nations responsible for the bulk of greenhouse gas emissions, to recognize that there is a pressing and urgent need for acton. Both regions rely heavily on the environment which sustains their cultures and economies, but which is now under threat as global temperatures increase. Members of the MSV steering come from the Arctic, Indian Ocean, South Pacific and Caribbean. They are here to look ahead and continue developing the MSV programme which is a vehicle for them to get their stories and messages out to the world.

And what better place than the Seychelles which, over the last few months has been experiencing a drought that has emptied the country's reservoirs? The dry spell broke a bit this week with torrential downpours that blotted out the hills and turned the clear blue sea a metallic grey. People here point to the unusual and unpredictable droughts as indicators of climate change. We will hear more about this when the MSV meeting opens at the University of Seychelles this morning.

Seychelle beach, by Lawrence Hislop



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