From: Seychelles NATION
7th September 2009
President James Michel’s special adviser on the environment, Dr Rolph Payet, was in a group led by United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon last week to see at first hand the melting of the Arctic icecap.
Dr Payet was representing the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the visit to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, about 1,000 kilometres from the North Pole. The visit, from Monday to Wednesday, was arranged ahead of a number of high-level conferences which Mr Ban is hosting to ensure there is a concrete outcome of the December climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Also in the group was the Norwegian Minister for Environment Sheila de Coultier, representing the Arctic peoples.
Describing the visit, Dr Payet said: “To see climate change happening is to see how fragile our planet is. Both the Arctic and the islands are at the frontlines of climate change – a solution for climate change is also a solution for the vulnerable and the poor.”
In a panel discussion at the University of Svalbard, the world’s northernmost university which has about 200 students, Dr Payet spoke of the links between climate change in the Arctic and in the tropics, and relationships that could be developed with the new University of Seychelles. He emphasised that we have the technical know-how to bring down emissions of greenhouse gases to 40% below 1990 levels – a position adopted by the Alliance of Small Island States in their negotiations on climate change. He also said the developed countries have the means and the technology to reduce carbon emissions to safe levels but expressed concern that they are playing the waiting game – a game that will cost many millions of people their livelihoods, homes and even motherland.
Dr Payet said Seychelles’ leadership in the climate change negotiations was acknowledged, and further support will be given to help the SIDS in the negotiation process and also in addressing adaptation to climate change.
Mr Ban gave his assurance that the UN is doing all it can to address climate change and will continue to support the vulnerable. He asked the SIDS to persevere in their quest for a concrete outcome of the Copenhagen conference.