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Seychelles and Indonesia collaborate in Environmental Defense initiative

Seychelles and Indonesia collaborate in Environmental Defense initiative ( VICTORIA, Mahe: Seychelles will be co-hosting a “World Environmental Defense Conference," in collaboration with the Indonesian National Defence Forces (TNI), to be held in Indonesia later this year to examine ways in which national defense forces from across Asia and Africa can engage with environmental protection within their communities.

Following an “Environmental Defense for Global Friendship" gathering held in Bandung, Indonesia, in October 2009 attended by ambassadors and representatives of 25 countries, Seychelles honorary consul to Indonesia, Mr. Nico Barito, has announced plans to bring together various military and defense groups from across the Asia Pacific region to this year’s meeting.

Speaking at the ministry of foreign affairs yesterday, Mr. Barito explained that this initiative stems from the idea that the Indonesia military belong to the people and have a duty and obligation other than war to help their people and the community protect the natural resources of their country. This is particularly true in times of peace, where the good discipline and leadership of the military can be an example for the community, explained Mr. Barito.

“Most of the degradation of the environment is being done by human settlements, which is why we are working with the local governments, and UN Habitat, among other partners, to collaborate with the military to actively protect the natural resources of the country they are duty bound to defend," said Mr. Barito, “Environmental resilience is integral to a nation's sovereignty and to our future."

Mr. Barito, who was previously a UN senior executive and director of the Asian Institute of Technology (EIT) and is currently the CEO of Urban Solution Institution (a partner of UN-Habitat), a board member of the University of Seychelles, and a trustee of the Sea Level Rise Foundation, went on to explain that such non-war operations are commonplace, particularly during times of environmental disasters and recuperation, which makes environmental defense as part of national defense a natural progression.

“Seychelles should be proud to be involved in such an innovative approach to protecting our environment, which will not only bridge the gap between our military and the community by engaging them in something so vitally important for our collective future, but also act as an example for other countries to follow," said Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, minister for foreign affairs.

In Seychelles, the military have previously participated in a variety of community engagement initiatives. The Seychelles Coast Guard is charged with protecting the sovereignty of Seychelles waters, not only against piracy, but also against illegal fishing and trawling, which is not only harmful to the environment, but also to the sustainability of Seychelles natural resources, added Mr. Barito.

The honorary consul went on to say that such initiatives also have implications beyond the environment as they provide new avenues for dialogue and collaboration between the national defense forces of African and Asian countries on environmental defense, which can also act as a vehicle for exchanges of best practices.

“Environmental defense has no barriers or divisions and is strictly non-political; it is a constitutional right for the military to be engaged in roles other than war, which makes this is a great umbrella for everyone to gather under and foster peace and friendship," concluded Mr. Barito.

Indonesia is made up of 17,000 islands and has one of the largest rainforests in the world, and over the recent years, the TNI has been engaged in various communal activities ranging from tree-planting exercises and protection of forestry, upgrading facilities and infrastructure in villages and isolated places, to intervening in areas of erosion, sea level rises, and flooding risks.

The “World Environmental Defense Conference" is expected to take place in November of this year.

The gathering last year brought together representatives from Afghanistan, Brazil, Canada, Peoples Republic of China, Cuba, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Lebanon, Namibia, Nigeria, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Seychelles, Slovakia, Somalia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand, East Timor, Turkey, and Zimbabwe.

Alain St.Ange CEO, Seychelles Tourism Board Email:

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