The Seychelles’ former President, Danny Faure, launched his foundation last month to coincide with World Oceans Day. SNA spoke with the former leader about the Danny Faure Foundation, the idea behind this new initiative and what it means for Seychelles’ sustainable development.
SNA: The Foundation focuses on five pillars – ocean governance, blue economy, governance, leadership and youth. Why did you decide to focus on these five pillars?
DF: I created this foundation to continue with my contributions in making for a more just, equitable, sustainable and healthy global society for the present and coming generation. Our foundation seeks to act as an advocate and to join like-minded individuals, institutions and organisations in trying to solve some of the most pressing issues of our time for the benefit of the Seychellois people and the rest of the world.
I believe that the pillars of the foundation are five of many key issues that need to be addressed when focusing on what we need to do to guarantee a secure and healthy future for our present and coming generation.
SNA: What are some of the activities that the foundation will be focusing on in the short term?
DF: The foundation seeks to develop programmes under the five pillars. At present, the programmes that we are developing target children and the youth. They are what we call sensitisation programmes. We believe that the messages for a sustainable future are already out there but as the global community reiterates those messages we need to make sure that our children and youth understand what we are fighting for.
Through our sensitisation programmes, we seek to learn and reveal to the wider community how our present generation is interpreting the different issues of our time and possibly learn from them on ways we can build on the existing efforts and momentum for change.
The foundation kick started its work with the launch of a Primary School Painting Competition on July 1, targeting children between the ages of 6 to 12, from both state and private schools. Centering on the importance of the ocean as the beating blue heart of the planet, the creative work of our young artists should help us understand how they interpret the importance of the ocean.
This will enable us to evaluate the extent to which they understand the messages of the global community and see how they feel about it. By the end of the day, the advocacy that we all do are for them and those to follow. The deadline to submit artworks is September 27. So far, many parents have reached out to get details about the competition so we are very much looking forward to all the masterpieces.
SNA: The foundation comes at a time where the world is facing a pandemic with a lot of pressure on financial resources. Do you think it will be easy to engage local and international partners for financial support at the moment?
DF: I believe that the foundation has been created at the right time where it can gauge the interest of like-minded individuals, institutions and organisations on global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Mindful of the financial impacts of the pandemic, and the recovery that the country and the world is going through, the foundation will raise funds through the activities that it will develop and seek financial support to develop programmes under its five pillars at its own pace.
In November 2018, Faure received the Blue Economy Award on African maritime sectors in Kenya from the African Union Commission. (State House) Photo license: CC-BY
SNA: Your predecessor’s foundation – the James Michel Foundation – also focuses on ocean and blue economy. Do you see this as a duplication?
DF: Definitely not. We are of the view that the foundation complements the James Michel Foundation, as well as other institutions and organisations that also focus on the sustainable development of the ocean and the protection of its marine life and ecosystems, and the blue economy.
Would you say that there are enough individuals, institutions or organisations out there to tackle these two subjects? I would say no. For instance, the global community has reached such momentum that has led to the declaration of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030. This is the time when we should all be joining forces to ask that more be done for humanity to understand the fundamental role of oceans in our existence. As for the latter, our Foundation believes that it is the next frontier for development.
Back in November 2018, I was announced as the Champion for the Development of the Blue Economy in Africa affording me the duty to advocate for the development of the blue economy for the African continent. I accepted this announcement on behalf of all Seychellois people who assisted in the advancement and development of the blue economy.
I am committed to continuing my advocacy of the blue economy through the work of the foundation. I believe that we should all do our part to advocate for the blue economy for the socio-economic welfare of the Seychellois people. Together we can all collaborate to see to it that Seychelles truly derives the maximum benefits through the blue economy. In my opinion, institutions or organisations – especially those that exist in such a small country as ours – should not compete but complement each other, for the better of our society.
In April 2019, Faure became the first head of state to deliver a live address from a depth of 124 metres below the ocean. (State House Facebook) Photo license: CC-BY
SNA: Are you going to collaborate with former President Michel since your focus is similar?
DF: I believe that our two Foundations are like-minded organisations. We look forward to engaging with President Michel’s Foundation as well as a plethora of others as we look to contribute in any way that we can towards Seychelles’ advocacy of oceans and the blue economy. As I have said, we believe that individuals, institutions or organisations with similar objectives complement each other.
SNA: The members of the foundation are considered heavyweights in their respective fields. How did you choose the people to form part of your team?
DF: As you can see, the foundation comprises a small team of people with whom I have worked closely in the past. They have a certain set of skills and competencies that are fundamental to the proper functioning and delivery of the foundation in terms of its aims and objectives. We hope to expand the size of the team as and when necessary.
SNA: During your tenure, you were recognised for the work you did with regard to environmental protection especially for the ocean/blue economy. How do you think this will be useful now and how will your foundation benefit Seychelles?
DF: Everything that I have ever done before leaving office was for the benefit of Seychelles. The foundation will continue the work that I have done with regards to the ocean and the blue economy with the hope to collaborate or enter into partnership with likeminded individuals, institutions or organisations that share the same goal to defend and protect the oceans and further elaborate on the importance of the blue economy for sustainable socio-economic development.
My foundation seeks to contribute, in any way that it can, to the sustainable development of Seychelles. As I have always said ‘Seychelles is greater than us.’