Author Archives: BlueCOP_Bloggers

Small island nations develop cooperative solutions to manage their waste

By Student Delegate Julia Guerrein

 

Imagine sitting on a towel on white sand. Blue water stretches out from the beach, and a warm breeze is blowing. The breeze brings a smell—the smell of garbage. Out of sight, but not out of smell, is a landfill that is filling rapidly.

Small island nations are not known for their wide, rolling plains. Rather, these places generally have minimal land. This becomes a problem when island nations need to dispose of their waste through  landfilling,  recycling,  or  composting  because  it  requires  infrastructure,  which  takes  up space. In Samoa, for example, there are mountains of tires and junkyards full of barrels of old oil that have nowhere to go. “Here in Samoa and other islands as well there’s no recycling that goes on. Pretty much we collect and  process  it  for  export  to  countries  overseas,”  said  Marina  Keil,  the  President  of  the  Samoa Recycling and Waste Management Association, in an article by the UN Environment Programme. “But it’s hard for us to export because of the operational and the freight costs.” In an effort to solve this problem, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and  China  Navigation  Company  formed  a  partnership  called Moana  Taka.

SPREP Director General, Mr Kosi Latu, signing the Moana Taka partnership. Photo: SPREP

SPREP Director General, Mr Kosi Latu, signing the Moana Taka partnership. Photo: SPREP

This  public-private partnership  allows  Samoa  and  other  Pacific  countries  to  ship  recyclables  to  recycling  facilities abroad for free. The partnership started at three shipments in 2018 and expanded to fifty shipments from four nations in 2019. In 2020 and beyond the partnership is working to include more islands. Even with the partnership, recycling is still challenging for island nations because recyclables have varying  levels  of  marketability.  For  example,  transporting  liquid  waste  requires  permits,  which increases the cost and burden of disposal. Conversely, clean plastic is relatively simple to transport and is highly marketable.

Like  these  Pacific  nations,  the  Seychelles  has  worked  on  finding  a  place  for  their  waste.  In coordination with several different organizations, the Seychelles has conducted a series of studies to assess their waste management system. One  of  these  studies  was  a  collaboration  between  the  University  of  the  Seychelles  and  a  Swiss university, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich.

Students from ETH and UniSey on the Providence dumping site on Mahe, Seychelles

Students from ETH and UniSey on the Providence dumping site on Mahe, Seychelles

The two universities produced a report that assessed the solid waste management system in the Seychelles. The report, published in 2017, found that one of the major problems is the rate of landfilling. The  report  stated  that  waste  management  in  the  Seychelles  is  a  complex  and  multi-faceted challenge, which requires all stakeholders—including government, businesses, and households—to  work  together.  Some  of  the  solutions  suggested  are  turning  biowaste  into  biogas,  optimizing recycling  markets,  and  incentivizing  waste  reduction.  The  report  estimates  that  landfills  in  the Seychelles will be full by 2040 unless the stakeholders make changes. “Given  that  land  is  a  very  scarce  resource  in  the  Seychelles,”  the  report  concludes,  “waste management  planning  should  start  now  and  consider  all  options  available  to  reduce  landfilling rates.” Although managing waste is an ongoing process, small island nations are making progress. The Moana  Taka  partnership  and  the  Seychelles’  cooperative  efforts  are  just  two  examples  of  small island nations addressing waste management challenges.

 

A Blue Moon: Ocean Energy and a Just Transition

By Student Delegate Andrea Salazar

Our Moon and Ocean are a major source of energy. Both tidal energy and wave energy are forms of ocean renewable energy (ORE). For example, countries like Australia have proposed that ORE’s are a vital part of their blue economy. The promise of developing OREs is bolstered by the fact that tidal and wave energy are less variable than wind and solar—thus more reliable (Herner et al., 2018). In a 2011 report, the IPCC described ocean energy as an undeveloped energy source. The IPCC also found that, theoretically, the ocean could provide more than enough energy than the world’s population needs (IPCC, page 501). Here, we examine why the ocean moves and the location of ORE hotspots. Last, we discuss frameworks for using ORE responsibly–because with great power comes responsibility.

Blue Moon 1Tidal Energy

Tidal energy derives from the moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth which creates a tidal force. As the Earth rotates, tidal force causes the Earth’s ocean water to bulge out on the side closest to the Moon. The parts of the Earth where water is bulging, experiences “high tide.” The sun and weather patterns can also affect ocean tides, but the Moon is most consistent. The Moon moves our oceans twice every day. (NOAA) The kinetic energy from this motion can generate electricity. The following figure quantifies tidal movement all over the globe. (IPCC) The blues show locations where little energy can be harnessed from tides while red show just the opposite.

Blue Moon 2Wave Energy

Depending on how fast the wind is blowing and for how long, the wind’s contact with the Earth’s ocean creates waves. Waves can travel long distances and grow because they are “very efficient at transferring energy” (IPCC, page 203). This map, also from the IPCC, shows the power in the ocean’s waves.

 

Transitions in a Blue Moon

Various forms of ocean renewable energy must be considered in through the lens of arriving at a future that is good for people and the planet. Standing for “Justice” “Universal” “Space” and “Time”—the J.U.S.T. Transition frames considerations in the process of implementing new energy systems that do not replicate social harm. The just transitions stem from labor movements and a key consideration is to understand and reduce negative impacts on the working class (UNFCCC). Williams and Doyon describe J.U.S.T factors in their research article as follows:

  • Justice refers to distributional (equality in prosperity and burden), procedural (accessible decision-making), and restorative justice (righting wrongs and conciliation);
  • Universal takes two forms: Recognition and Cosmopolitan;
  • Space calls for a location-specific analysis; and
  • Time.

In the U.S., the Climate Justice Alliance defines the just transition, more holistically, as a process for leaving behind an extractive economy towards a Regenerative Economy. Any future that intends to harness wave and tidal energy will require a step-by-step analysis as related to the factors described above.

Works Referenced:

  1. https://scijinks.gov/tides/
  2. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/03/SRREN_Full_Report-1.pdf
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148118305573#fig3
  4. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330096809_Justice_in_energy_transitions/link/5c44d6c9299bf12be3d78fe1/download
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0016718517303287
  6. https://unfccc.int/sites/default/files/resource/Just%20transition.pdf
  7. https://climatejusticealliance.org/just-transition/#:~:text=Just%20Transition%20is%20a%20vision,cycles%20holistically%20and%20waste%2Dfree.

Seychelles navigates “new priorities in a new reality” to take on COVID-19

By Student Delegate Jessica Griswold

In the Indian Ocean, roughly 1,000 miles east of the African Coast, lies an archipelago paradise called Seychelles. Comprised of 115 islands, the Republic of Seychelles is home to some of the world’s most beautiful white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. That said, it is no surprise that this mighty island nation was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to attain very high human development status. Seychelles is known globally as a powerful ocean conservation leader and innovative sustainable development finance trailblazer.

Like other Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Seychelles relies heavily on fishing, agriculture, and especially tourism to maintain its economy. Tourism increases domestic revenue by adding to the consumer population, creates jobs, supports infrastructure development, and indirectly builds up ancillary industries, such as agriculture. Additionally, transportation to and from the country’s seaports is essential to the country’s agricultural export economy and importing necessities, including machinery and equipment, food, petroleum products, chemicals, and other manufactured goods.

On March 14, 2020, Seychelles reported its first two confirmed COVID-19 cases. In response, the country restricted travel to protect its people, industries, and livelihood. Less than one month later, the government banned travel, subsequently implementing a national curfew and limiting commercial activity to essential services. In just six short weeks, cargo and repatriation flights were Seychelles’ only connection to the rest of the world—including its African neighbors. Thus, the nation’s positive path toward achieving its sustainable development and climate adaptation goals came to a halt.

As Seychelles takes on “new priorities and a new reality,” climate change risks remain the same. The dangers of climate change require investments, additional resources and technology, and adaptable business strategies for tourism-based economies. As sea levels rise and sporadic storms brew, the sustainable development of critical infrastructure, such as airports and seaports that make up a sustainable transportation system, is vital to support small island tourism and trade. Taking the global pandemic’s economic and social effects into account, support for sustainable development and adaptation is non-negotiable now more than ever.

Under the Paris Agreement, setting and attaining a sustainable finance goal is an ongoing issue. On the bright side, the treaty acknowledges the different responsibilities, capacities, and vulnerabilities between wealthy developed country Parties and developing country Parties, including Small Island Developing Nations. Consequently, the treaty imposes mitigation and donation obligations on developed countries to support developing countries’ adaptation efforts. All the same, the Paris Agreement’s flexible, bottom-up approach only ensures that Parties make nationally determined contributions—it does not require Parties to contribute a particular amount. While the agreement’s flexibility has facilitated nearly universal participation, the conflicting interests of the Parties have served as a setback in the climate finance space.

Nevertheless, Seychelles found a solution to this problem in blended finance. The term blended finance refers to financing forms that leverage development funds to create a more investment-friendly environment for private sector capital to invest. By building partnerships between government, industry, science, and civil society, the blended finance approach reduces the high risk of relying on one income stream. Simply put, blended finance can effectively mobilize the resources small islands need for sustainable development.

The safe tourism certificate provides the seal of approval for service providers for operation (Photo source: STB News Bureau)

The safe tourism certificate provides the seal of approval for service providers for operation (Photo source: STB News Bureau)

Without a doubt, Seychelles resiliently capitalized on its remote geographic location and niche economy before the pandemic. In the wake of COVID-19, the island nation continues to fight its way through even more significant challenges. As Seychelles prepared to relaunch its tourism industry, the tourism department and health officials developed a “safe tourism certificate” program for businesses. Before opening their doors to foreign visitors, tourism businesses must satisfy COVID-19 safety criteria to receive a certificate showing that tourists are welcome to visit.

In June and July, low-risk countries from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and the South Pacific were among the first that Seychelles welcomed as visitors. By September, over 75 percent of the rooms in Seychelles’ 418 hotels, guest houses, and self-catering establishments received safe tourism certificates and could open for business. In October, over forty countries made the updated list of those allowed to visit the islands safely. While the tourism industry is not what it was before the pandemic, Seychelles is setting an example of successfully adjusting to a new normal.

Works Cited

  1. Amanda K Serumaga, And Then Came the Pandemic: Addressing Vulnerability in the Time of COVID-19 and Beyond in the Seychelles, United Nations Dev. Programme: Afr. (May 13, 2020), https://www.africa.undp.org/content/rba/en/home/blog/2020/and-then-came-the-pandemic.html.
  1. Climate Finance, World Res. Inst., https://www.wri.org/our-work/project/climate-finance/climate-finance-and-private-sector (last visited Oct. 5, 2020).
  1. Financing Ocean Protection, United Nations Dev. Promgramme: Ecosystems & Biodiversity (October 23, 2019), https://undp-biodiversity.exposure.co/financing-ocean-protection.
  1. Isabel Jurema Grimm, Liliane CS Alcântara & Carlos Alberto Cioce Sampaio, Tourism in the context of climate change: impacts, possibilities and challenges, Brazilian J. of Tourism Rsch. 2 (2018).
  1. Kashlee Kucheran, Seychelles Now Reopen For Tourism—Here’s Who Can Visit, Travel Off Path (Oct. 23, 2020), https://www.traveloffpath.com/seychelles-now-reopen-for-tourism-heres-who-can-visit/.
  1. Lenzen, M., Sun, Y., Faturay, F. et al., The carbon footprint of global tourism, Nature Climate Change8, 522–528 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0141-x.
  1. Malshini Senaratne, COVID19: Seychelles Reboots Tourism, With a Twist, Observer Rsch. Found. (Aug. 24, 2020), https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/covid19-seychelles-reboots-tourism-with-a-twist/.
  1. Shivani Vora, Travel Tackles Climate Change, Y. Times (December 2, 2018), https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/02/climate/travel-tackles-climate-change.html.
  1. What is Blended Finance?, SeyCCAT, https://seyccat.org/what-is-blended-finance/ (last visited Oct. 5, 2020).
  1. Why Tourism is Important, Arrivals Hall, https://arrivalshall.com/2020/06/16/why-is-tourism-important/ (last visited October 5, 2020).
  1. Yasmine Yehia, The Importance of Tourism on Economies and Businesses, Edge (Mar. 26, 2019, 12:21PM), https://globaledge.msu.edu/blog/post/55748/the-importance-of-tourism-on-economies.
  1. Salifa Karapetyan, 75 pct of Seychelles’ Hotel and Guest House Rooms Certified COVID Safe, Seychelles News Agency: Business (Sept. 11, 2020) http://www.seychellesnewsagency.com/articles/13535/+pct+of+Seychelles%27+hotel+and+guest+house+rooms+certified+COVID+safe.
  1. Seychelles: Voluntary National Review 2020, United Nations Sustainable Dev. Goals Knowledge Platform, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/memberstates/seychelles (last visited Oct. 5, 2020).
  1. The World Bank in Seychelles, https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/seychelles/overview (July 31, 2020).