4.1 To what extent has climate change adaptation been mainstreamed into sectoral policies?
Since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, climate change adaptation became a topical issue in the Seychelles and the process has been guided by different policies and plans that integrate climate risks within the social and economic development sectors . Seychelles’ response to climate change and environmental protection is also reflected in the country’s national climate change policy  and adaptation is given greater priority due to the vulnerability of the island state to the impacts of climate change [18, 56, 61]. The long history of climate adaptation into policies and strategies could be traced to Seychelles’ Initial and Second National Communication to the UNFCCC [40, 55].
Guided by a sector approach, the recently updated NDC gives priority to the following strategic actions such as: nature-based solutions to protect coastal ecosystems; adapting an integrated Ridge-to-Reef (R2R) approach to coastal management; developing a Port Master Plan; improving the management of freshwater resources; among others . In fact, Chapter 4 of the Second National Communication to the UNFCCC focuses entirely on vulnerability and adaptation measures which clearly outlines existing adaptation measures and also options to enhance its mainstreaming into policies and national development plans . The reviewed policy documents together with the stakeholder interviews were used to answer the question “to what extent has climate adaptation been mainstreamed into sectorial policies?” Details of these findings are presented for each sector.
4.1.1 Forestry Sector
National policy in the forestry sector has its roots from environmental policy as expressed in the Environmental Management Plans of the Seychelles (EMPS 1990 – 2000), as well as from other international conventions. Examples of such conventions include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); Chapter 11 of the Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) on Deforestation; the Forest Principles of UNCED . Moreover, the Seychelles’ Protected Areas Policy is another important policy document that reinforces Seychelles’ position of legally protecting 47% of the total land area . Also, this policy document make reference to the Forestry Reserves Act of 1955 that sets out provisions for the designation of “forest reserves”. A further development was the Seychelles National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015 – 2020 (NBSAP) which addresses some issues that are relevant to adaptation such as financing, capacity building and climate related biodiversity issues .
4.1.2 Agricultural Sector
The Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy (SSDS) is an important document that addresses adaptation mainstreaming across sectors inclusive of agriculture. One of the five core areas of focus as outlined in the SSDS is food security, trade and diversification . A significant milestone in this sector is the Seychelles National Food and Nutrition Security Policy (SNFNSP) that provided an enabling environment for mainstreaming climate adaptation in the agricultural sector . That notwithstanding, climate change adaptation was initially mainstreamed in agricultural policies in the early 90s at the onset of the activities to put together the Initial National Communication (INC) to the UNFCCC (initiated in 1993) with the launch of the Seychelles National Climate Change Committee. Concerns for climate change mainstreaming was further reinforced with the launch of the Second National Communication (SNC) in 2006 and by then the Cabinet of Ministers were prioritizing climate change and the need for national socio-economic sectors to adapt through proper policies and strategic approaches .
Given that “the road toward adaptation is always under construction” , the Seychelles National Agricultural Investment Plan (SNAIP) 2015 – 2020 was put in place to improve food security while mitigating the impacts of climate change. The focus of one of its programme is to protect and sustainable use agricultural lands and water. A study by FAO and ICRISAT  on Climate-Smart Agriculture in Seychelles highlighted the mainstreaming of adaptation in the agriculture sector. Some actions includes the use of drought resistant crops such as root crops (cassava, sweet potato) and maize on the one hand, and rainwater harvesting, streams, rivers and boreholes to irrigate farmlands – an ongoing practice for over three decades.
4.1.3 Health Sector
Climate change will affect the occurrence of diseases in Seychelles, and a few recent crises (e.g. dengue fever) signaled the need to adapt proactively . Although climate adaptation responses in the health sector is relatively new, some progress has been made. Health considerations were captured in the Environmental Management Plans [39, 40] and in the Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy – SSDS  despite very little implementation. A major step towards mainstreaming climate adaptation in this sector is the development of the Health National Action Plan (HNAP) for Seychelles . This action plan addresses health adaptation process at national level that has the potential to reduce climate related impacts on health .
Collaboration with key ministry responsible for climate change is another strategy that has enhance climate adaptation mainstreaming in the health sector. For example, The MEECC currently known as the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE) together with the Ministry of Health (MoH) collaborate on ad-hoc basis on events such as the management of disease outbreak, environmental pollution and other specific programs to address health and environmental matters. Mainstreaming climate adaptation in this sectors has occurred partly by improving conditions for healthy leaving. For example, the new Building Codes by Seychelles Planning Authority (SPA) for residential and commercial buildings has the potential to improve resilience especially through specifications to adopt solar PV, rainwater harvesting systems, double glaze windows and to promote the greening of common space .
4.1.4 Energy Sector
Creating an enabling environment through policy instruments that facilitate the transitioning from fossil fuel to renewable energy have been incorporated into different strategies in the Seychelles. In this regard, guiding principles for the energy and transport sector are fully integrated into national development strategies . For example, the share of energy from renewable sources was estimated at 5% for the year 2020 and is expected to increase to 15% in the year 2030 . Several projects on biomass to energy, solar hot water, solar PV and wind energy have been implemented across the Seychelles in order to achieve the proposed share of energy from renewable sources. Moreover, the importation of renewable energy technologies have been exempted from the payment of value added tax (VAT) dating back to the year 2010 . Such a financial policy incentive is attractive for both households and businesses to adopt especially rooftop PV so as to reduce emissions from the use of fossil fuel and thereby mitigating the impacts of climate change .
Information gathered from the Seychelles Energy Commission (SEC) indicated that 165 businesses and 406 households have adopted rooftop PV in Seychelles between 2013 until the end of February 2021 . Aside from the VAT exemption, the Government of Seychelles has put in place other incentives to facilitate the adoption of rooftop PV. These incentives include the following: (i) net metering scheme, (ii) rebate scheme for rooftop PV systems, (iii) energy efficiency program (iv) the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) loan scheme . These incentives are expected to drive a transition from fossil fuel usage to renewable energy especially rooftop solar PV. Energy efficiency is largely promoted through the Seychelles Resource Efficiency Project. As far back as April 2017, the sole energy provider in the Seychelles having been giving out two LED bulbs in exchange of two incandescent light bulbs to inhabitants of the three main islands of Seychelles .
4.1.5 Water Sector
Water provides multiple benefits such as the generation of hydroelectricity, ensures food production, needed for domestic and industrial purposes, supports economic development which highlights it linkages with other sectors. The law governing the water sector in the Seychelles are contained in different pieces of legislation . More importantly, the Seychelles National Water Policy is influenced by and strives to contribute in achieving sustainable growth with an emphasis on SDG 6 on access to clean water and sanitation and goal number 13, 14, and 15 that deals with issues related climate change, the blue economy and the terrestrial environment. Integrated water management has also been promoted by the Government of Seychelles for over a decade now. This management strategy have focused on energy efficiency, demand management, and developing alternative supply sources from rainwater harvesting and water use.
Adopted in July 2017, the National Water Policy and National Integrated Water Resource Management Plan reinforced the momentum on water management . Access to water resources as an adaptation strategy has been promoted for both domestic and agricultural uses. For example, rainwater harvesting systems have been incorporated in educational establishments and in smallholder farming systems with support from international NGOs, local NGOs and the MACCE and Ministry of Education. In some cases, wetlands have been restored to provide farmers with access to water as part of the Ecosystem Based Adaptation to Climate Change in Seychelles Project. Therefore, adaptation has been mainstreamed effectively in the water sector despite some areas that might need further improvement.
4.1.6 Blue Economy Sector
In order to avoid duplication, the Blue Economy (BE) within the context of this study focuses on coastal management, fisheries and aquaculture, tourism and critical infrastructure sectors. An important development in this sector is the Blue Economy Strategic Policy Framework and Roadmap 2018 – 2030 . This framework and roadmap provide an approach to ocean-based sustainable development which brings the economy, the environment and society together toward achieving global agendas such as the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Paris Agreement. Mainstreaming climate change adaptation into the different sub-sectors of the BE also features prominently in the Seychelles Updated Nationally Determined Contribution to the UNFCCC .
The Seychelles Strategic and Land Use Plan which provides guidance on land use management from 2015 – 2040 also take into account adaptation mainstreaming within the BE sector . This has led to climate proofing development that are fully integrated in the New Building Codes in the Seychelles. Also, Seychelles management of coastal wetlands falls under the Environment Protection Act and the Seychelles Wetland Policy and Action Plan . A special focus has been given to coastal wetlands for mitigation and adaptation co-benefits in line with the development of the blue carbon concept  which has gained traction in Seychelles and largely promoted by the Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT). Coral restoration also has a long history in the island state with the Nature Seychelles Reef Rescuers program that has grown 45,000 corals in underwater nurseries and this represents the world’s largest coral reef restoration program .
Regarding the fishery sector, the overall policy framework is captured in the “Seychelles Fisheries Sector Policy and Strategy 2019” . This document aim towards a long-term sustainable fisheries and aquaculture management and conservation, to ensure its key role in the sustainable development of the country. The fisheries sector is regulated by six key pieces of legislations . In 2018, Seychelles National Aquaculture Policy 2018 – 2022 was published. The objective of the policy is “guiding an effectively managed and environmentally responsible aquaculture industry that contributes towards food security and the creation of wealth in Seychelles” .
Pertaining to tourism, the Tourism Master Plan describes the objective to develop a tourism plan specific for Mahe, Praslin, La Digue and the Outer Islands given that the impact of climate change are not equally distributed across the Seychelles group of islands . An important milestone in this sector is the Sustainability Label that was introduced in 2011. The purpose of this initiative is to promote the integration of sustainability measures into the operations of hotels of all sizes in Seychelles. Some of the focal areas include reducing the amount of paper used, adopt energy and water efficiency and conservation measures, reduce the amount of waste generated and to promote conservation activities and community engagement. For example, plastic bottles have been replaced with reusable bottles in order to reduce the amount of waste generated. However, majority of the hotels that conform to these practices are the luxury hotel. Regarding climate change adaptation, initiatives such as rainwater harvesting, gardening, renewable energy and energy efficiency, waste management is promoted in the tourism industry.
4.2 What are the constraints impeding adaptation mainstreaming?
The effective integration of climate adaptation into sector policy is a process and not an outcome, Therefore, despite some progress that has been achieved by the Government of Seychelles, some constraints have been identified. These constraints that are based on the stakeholders that were interviewed are grouped into the following categories as follows: (i) policy and governance constraints, (ii) insufficient financial resources, (iii) risk of diminishing visibility and attention, (iv) lack of clarity on mainstreaming strategies implemented, and (v) human resource capacity.
4.2.1 Policy and governance constraints
Climate change issues are interlinked across different sectors and there is a need for policy harmonization to ensure alignment on the one hand and on the other hand cross-sectoral collaboration. Chief among the constraints mentioned was the 2009 climate strategy of Seychelles that is due for revision given that the current version does not align with the climate change policy  and the Updated Nationally Determined Contributions . Sector policies in Seychelles are given greater priorities especially for those sectors whose mandates are not directly linked to climate change such as health, blue economy, fisheries, etc. The case of Seychelles represent a broader policy challenge relevant for a similar set of countries – vulnerable island states , and developing countries . In most cases, revision of important climate-related policies and strategies are dependent on donor funding externally which might not be available on time.
Climate adaptation often require coordination and collaboration among different actors who have different objectives, with unequal power in decision making and resources at their disposal [13, 17]. For example, private sector engagement in climate change issues in the Seychelles have been very weak . Although the climate change policy  makes provision for a National Climate Change Council (NCCC) with representatives from the private sector, this council is yet to be established. Two of the 14 functions of the council include (i) to ensure that integration of climate change into sectoral policies and strategies; and (ii) to ensure that national development policies and strategies are consistent with sectoral plans and strategies. Policy and governance constraints also suffers from the reactive rather than the proactive approach to climate adaptation in addition to greater focus to address short than long-term climate-related risks – a view support by an earlier study in the Pacific and Caribbean SIDS . Therefore, a holistic approach is imperative which addresses immediate or short-term climate risks while concomitantly putting in place strategies and action plans to carter for medium and long-term adaptation measures.
4.2.2 Insufficient financial resources
Insufficient financial resources featured prominently from all the stakeholders that were interviewed. Despite highlighting some financial support received from international organizations such as the Adaptation Fund (AF), Global Environment Facility (GEF), Japan International Coorperation Agency (JICA), the lack of financial resources for continuity was raised as a major barrier. Funds were provided through the ‘Global Funds for Adaptation' and the European Union for pilot projects that were implemented at specific sites for instance, the drainage and erosion project on La Digue .
Coastal erosion and flash floods still persist and the budget allocation does not cover all of the hot spot sites across the Seychelles. Inadequate technologies and infrastructures was a key concern raised by stakeholders that is linked to insufficient financial resources. However, the Environment Trust Fund (ETF) and the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) were identified as national institutions that finance climate adaptation project, but at a much smaller scale. One of the stakeholder did mentioned that the “US$100 billion a year to less wealthy nations by 2020, to adapt to climate change and mitigate have not been met”. A recent study also showed the $100-billion target was out of reach . Therefore, financial resources continues to remain a key constraints to climate adaptation into sectorial policies in Seychelles and elsewhere given that some of the strategies are hardly translated into projects or actions on the ground.
4.2.3 Risks of diminishing issue visibility and attention
A dedicated approach that relies on highly specialised institutional responsibilities, dedicated funds and a clear legal framework that can provide an enabling environment for stand-alone adaptation policies and programmes is lacking. Climate adaptation mainstreaming requires targeted strategies and action that are beyond mere aspirations in order to be effective. While all the 31 policy documents that were reviewed were explicit on the integration of adaptation actions across sectors, there wasn’t any accepted agreement about what mainstreaming is to achieve, i.e. when it is effective, and how this could be measured – a key barrier that has been raised by other studies [13, 72, 73, 74].
As such, the relative weight and priority adaptation objectives in comparison to sectoral objectives is highly skewed and might compromise climate compatible development as indicated by England et al. . It came out clearly during the interviews that climate change issues are considered the responsibility of the MACCE especially as the sector strategies of the MACCE deals mostly with issues around climate change when compared to other sectors and the ministry also doubles as the UNFCCC focal point. The implication therefore is that sectorial objectives are given more attention while climate-related issues might receive little attention.
4.2.4 Lack of clarity on mainstreaming strategies implemented
A key question raised by majority of the stakeholders was that at what level is mainstreaming occurring in sectorial policies? Although significant progress has been recorded regarding the integration of climate adaptation into sectors as highlighted in the Second National Communications submitted under the UNFCCC and also in the Updated Nationally Determined Contributions [19, 55] compared to previous versions [39, 40, 54, 56], considerable challenges on mainstreaming strategies still persist. However, what is being mainstreamed and how its effectiveness could be measured is a problem that is not limited to the Seychelles  but common in other SIDS  and more importantly, has been identified as a challenge globally . Therefore, the lack of unified frameworks for adaptation mainstreaming have affected well-informed policy recommendations.
Although stakeholders were not specific regarding mainstreaming strategies for climate adaptation in the Seychelles, the theoretical framework Wamsler and Pauleit  shows that the five mainstreaming strategies have been implemented in the Seychelles. These strategies include add-ons through new projects building on previous projects. A good example in the Seychelles’ case is the Ridge-to-Reef projects that began in 2020 and is building on the Ecosystem Based Adaptation to Climate Change project, which will come to an end in March 2022. Regarding the institutionalization of adaptation components into sector policies and strategies, the stakeholders were of the opinion that the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE) has made significant progress compared to other government ministries. Other strategies that require greater attention in order to improve the adaptation mainstreaming landscape across sectors in the Seychelles include effective collaboration within government entities, and between the government and private sector; a framework for adaptation mainstreaming; and higher level support for funding, ongoing and potential projects on adaptation. The key concern that arises then is to what extent or how effective are the different mainstreaming strategies to climate change adaptation in the Seychelles?
4.2.5 Human resource capacity
Mainstreaming climate adaptation into sectorial policies would require knowledge on adaptation and what action plans or strategies can be implemented across sectors for building adaptive capacity to climate change impacts. This constraints partly links to having staffs across different sectors with trans-disciplinary background on climate adaptation and how it can be integrated into sectorial policies. For example, stakeholders in the health sectors could easily identify actions that have been mainstreamed into their sector such as energy efficient technologies and renewable energies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But when interviewed on adaptation mainstreaming, the stakeholders had very little idea on how this could be done – an indication of human resource capacity to address this need. The small population size of Seychelles also raises issues of human resources capacity which has been identified by another study on mainstreaming climate adaptation in the Pacific and Caribbean SIDS . It was also mentioned that staffs that are already employed do not in some cases get a release to further their education at the University of Seychelles or abroad. Therefore, new knowledge and skills needed to enhance effective climate adaptation mainstreaming into sector policies, strategies and action plans are lacking in specific disciplines or in short supply.
4.3 Recommendations from stakeholders
A number of measured were proposed by the stakeholders that has the potential to improve the mainstreaming of climate change into sectoral policies. These recommendations are cross-cutting for the six sectors considered in this study and are therefore not presented for each sector separated. However, reference is made to specific sectors when needed for emphasis or when addressing issues of specific nature.
Informed policies are based on sound science which require human resource capacity and available financial resources. Pertaining to research that can inform policies, the Blue Economy Research Institute (BERI) and the Environmental Science Department at the University of Seychelles was identified as a potential stakeholder that can be supported financially by the Government of Seychelles to engage in climate-related research – a view supported by a recent study in Seychelles . Stakeholders argued that the university already has the human resource capacity to produce research that is of high quality that can support the climate adaptation process. They went further to mention that collaborative collaborative research with government institutions for example the MACCE and other NGOs is important for capacity building in order to increase the pool of researchers in the future. Another focal area mentioned was capacity needs at the local level to address climate adaptation in Seychelles which was mentioned as a priority area of research that needed urgent attention. One of the stakeholder mentioned that the District Authorities (DAs) are the gatekeepers to the communities and should be equipped with the technical skills needed to address climate change issues especially adaptation which is location-specific.
While the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE) is responsible for the coordination of climate change issues nationally, the collaboration among government entities was of great concern. One of the stakeholder recommended that the ongoing restructure in the MACCE on how to coordinate climate change activities should take into account the needs and aspirations of other ministries. Furthermore to that, it was recommended that the Seychelles National Climate Change Committee with representation from all the sectors should be used more effectively for adaptation mainstreaming and policy harmonization. Many stakeholders also echoed that the climate strategy that is currently revised should clearly outline how adaptation should be mainstreamed into sectors by providing some guidelines.
Awareness raising also came out as another recommendation. In this regard, it was recommended that the government through the Ministry of Education should continue its support with the Eco Schools in all the secondary schools in the Seychelles. Also, that weather stations should be installed in all schools in the country and it will arouse curiosity among pupils and students thereby encouraging them to develop interest in climate science which could reduce the deficit in climate scientists in the long term.
To provide greater access to climate information, putting in place a reward package such as a monthly/annual prizes to compensate local media organizations and journalists that run regular programmes or report issues on climate change and environmental protection was highly recommended. It was also recommended that the National Assembly, District Administrators Offices and faith-based organizations are important platforms that could be used to easily disseminate climate information to community members.
Regarding finance for adaptation projects, it was recommended that sectors or ministries work closely with NGOs and research institutions to secure funding either locally or internationally. The collaboration between the MACCE and the University of Seychelles in securing funding from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) on an adaptation project, was cited as an example. This form of collaboration according to some of the stakeholders can benefit access to funding for adaptation project from two domestic funders on climate change projects – Environment Trust Fund (ETF) and the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT). Lastly, the institutionalization of climate adaptation into sector policy was also of greater concern as indicated by the stakeholder. They see adaptation as a process and its institunalization will mean that it becomes part and parcel of sector objectives and will receive the much needed attention that it deserves.