The Indian Ocean nation of Seychelles has raised $15 millionfrom the world’s first “blue bond” to finance ocean-based projects.
Seychelles, which is dependent upon the ocean for its economy and food, will use the funds protect 81,000 square miles with limits on fishing, oil exploration and large-scale development in fragile habitats.
Seychelles has striking underwater reefs, but oil and gas companies have begun exploring its waters.
The country, which defaulted on its debt in 2008, had searched for a way to balance marine protection and financial stability.
Last February, the Nature Conservancy bought nearly $22 million of Seychelle’s $406 million debt in exchange for officially protecting one-third of the country’s marine area.
The current 10-year blue bond was supported by the World Bank, which offered a $5 million guarantee.
The bank said in a statement: “The general population will benefit from a healthier marine environment and increased food security.”
The bond allocates a large portion for low-interest loans and grants to fishermen and research on sustainable fisheries projects.
World Bank Vice President of Sustainable Development Laura Tuck said that the agency is “excited to be involved in the launch of this sovereign blue bond, and believes it can serve as a model for other small-island developing states and coastal countries.”
The blue bond issue comes just before the first Sustainable Blue Economy Conference to be held later this month in Nairobi.
Conference participants hope to look at ways to harness the potential of waterways that improve lives and encourage conservation efforts.
Sources: Reuters, Inter Press Service