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AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
Tourists sunbath on the beach of Beau Vallon in the Seychelles Island.
BEYOND TOURISM

An African island nation known for beautiful beaches is now a global leader in cutting greenhouse gases

By Samira Sadeque

Just less than a decade ago, the Seychelles—the archipelago nation of 115 island off the East African coast—faced a host of challenges in its climate protection efforts. Reports show that its environment has been vulnerable to numerous challenges including climate change, environmental degradation due to development, pollution and coral bleaching which affects its fisheries.

While many of these challenges remain, things are changing. In its most recent efforts to minimize emission of greenhouse gas, the nation of just 95,000 people has improved considerably on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index, a biennial report by researchers at Yale University and Columbia University in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. In its two decades, the index observed that the Seychelles has emerged as the country with the highest improvement, citing its dedication to fighting greenhouse gas emissions. Data from the World Bank however shows Seychelles’ CO2 emissions has fluctuated over the years.

The index ranks 180 countries on 24 different categories—ranging from air pollution, sanitation, fisheries, agriculture, climate and energy, to biodiversity habitat.

But Africa remains low on these indices. At 39th on the index, Seychelles was the highest ranked sub Saharan African country. Next was Equatorial Guinea (71) and Namibia (79). Seychelles did see a significant improvement in the climate and energy section, jumping from one of the lowest ranks of 179 to 1 (the highest possible), with an improvement on its score from 10.04 to 93.25.

Seychelles is probably best known as its beaches and other vacation resorts. The island nation is highest ranked in the continent for being the most open to all African passport-holders without the need for visas and its citizens have the most powerful African passport.

Challenges remain on other environmental fronts. Even though its climate and energy efforts have improved, it still needs to improve in areas of water and sanitation, and biodiversity habitat—where it dropped in ranking.