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  • Célestin Toeset

UN Launches Fund for Circular Economy Businesses in the Seychelles

Concerns about waste management in the Seychelles have gained traction in the last few years. While the East African country currently generates around 80,000 tons of waste per year, that number is expected to rise to 120,000 tons by 2030. Facing scarce land solutions and with but few engineered landfills, capacity at the Mahé landfill, the country’s largest is projected to be reached by 2025. The alarming rate at which waste is produced has engaged the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in a search for local innovators and entrepreneurs presenting solutions to help close the loop. With this objective in mind, UNEP and the Joint SDG Fund have allocated US$785,000 to the Seychelles government in a bid to accelerate innovations that would help close the loop. 

Announced by Jean-François Ferrari, the Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, the grant aims to build a comprehensive framework to support circular economy projects and diversity on the island. It focuses especially on the country’s two main industries, namely fishing and tourism, with the objective to reduce the waste and, by extension, the consumption of raw materials in the value chain. This initiative is believed to provide a considerable boost to the national economy by creating job prospects and improving the manufacturing industry by making existing processes more efficient. 

In the same spirit, the grant hopes to support the transition to a self-sustaining circular economy. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the island witnessed a 51% drop in the contribution of tourism to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), shrinking from US$559.1 million in 2019 to US$290.8 million in the following year. By promoting entrepreneurship, UNEP and the Ramkalawan administration intend to decrease reliance on external economic agents and generate more resilience throughout the value chain. 

This was also the foundation behind the launching of a Circular Economy Challenge Fund amounting to US$145,000 to be invested into local entrepreneurial initiatives fostering promise for sustainable growth. Open for applications until the 26th of April, the fund will be guided by the Department of Blue Economy. Although it does align with the Joint SDG Fund in that it seeks to better waste management processes, this Call for Proposals broadens the criteria to solutions enabling circular design, production, optimal use, value recovery, and support. Successful applications can expect to receive between US$15,000-US$20,000, whilst smaller allowances of US$5,000 will be used as seed capital for selected start-ups. They will also be offered the possibility to take part in a two-day bootcamp to aid with the design of specific action plans. 

While still in their early stages, the establishment of these funds is a testament to both a renewed sense of urgency regarding economic stability, but also of changing attitudes on circularity. It is therefore with great hope and ambition that we will follow developments as the projects flourish across the archipelago.


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