The Seychelles consists of 115 Islands set within a vast ocean space. Its abounding natural environment supports the local community and attracts tourists, nature lovers and researchers from all over the world. With the international community working on progressing sustainable development agendas, the Seychelles has valorized its coastal and ocean space as the key to sustainable development initiatives in the country. This aligns with international initiatives which focus on the concept of a sustainable ocean-based economy or “Blue Economy”, as endorsed by the 2012 Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Unless the environment is carefully explored and monitored, the potential wealth of our ocean-based economy itself will be diminished.
To support the development of a knowledge-based society, the University of Seychelles has formed the Jame Michel Blue Economy Research Institute (BERI), which will identify and coordinate research synergies between different sectors and actively seek partners to support and advance sustainable development initiatives.
Research and activities relating to the utilization of our coastal and ocean space are already underway in some areas, so where is the added value? The answer lies in a difference of approach, one that is:
- global as it will embrace all of the coastal and ocean resources that may be of value to all nations, but also localised so that initiatives are embedded in the community
- sustainable in that it looks to the long-term development of a stronger ocean-based economy that has considered the needs of a healthy and dynamic environment through its development, particularly in Small Island Developing States where challenges to sustainable development are influenced by capacity constraints and a narrow terrestrial resource base
- scientific, systematic, transdisciplinary and innovative so that the approaches of exploring and utilizing resources are guided by evidence-based monitoring, evaluation and management practices, while allowing innovative collaboration to advance these
- impartial, inclusive and participatory in its aims to promote research, while complying with Seychelles legislation and regulations, in a spirit of partnership with various institutions and individuals to allow for equitable sharing of benefits
The purpose of the James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute (as part of the University of Seychelles) is:
- to become a viable and active project and research management centre in its own right, with local and international researchers working alongside, creating a hub within the western Indian Ocean region for generating, storing, managing, and the transfer of knowledge
- to create an active regional network of researchers and data that will facilitate partnerships and further research development and knowledge transfer
- to provide a transparent, stimulating and innovative environment for undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as international researchers to effectively undertake their own projects in the unique environment of Seychelles
How is it Organised?
The James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute was established at the start of March 2015. Mrs Kelly Hoareau was appointed Director, working under the guidance of the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dennis Hardy. It will also serve as an umbrella organisation for entities affiliated to the University that associate other partners and aim to promote scientific studies, research and capacity building in Seychelles, such as the Island Biodiversity & Conservation centre, or the University Centre for Environmental Education.
A steering committee will guide and support the interests and activities of the James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute. It will monitor progress to ensure excellence in all of the Institute’s activities, and ensure that the work of the Institute is consistent with the Vision, Mission and Values of the University of Seychelles.