Seychelles consists of 115 islands set within a vast ocean space of over 1.3 million km2. Its diverse and rich natural environment supports the local community and attracts tourists, nature lovers, and researchers from all over the world. With the international community progressing sustainable development agendas, Seychelles has valorised its coastal and ocean space as the key to securing their sustainable development initiatives. This aligns with international initiatives relating to the concept of a sustainable ocean-based economy or “Blue Economy”, as endorsed by the 2012 Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
More specifically, the Blue Economy concept focuses on the utilisation of coastal and ocean resources and services in an innovative and sustainable way, with particular benefit to local communities. Key to this concept is maintaining (or improving) the integrity of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems. Development in this area needs to be managed through evidence-based decision making, policy development and management plans that enable healthy ecosystems to provide for future generations. The concept is of particular importance for an island nation such as Seychelles, where we are directly impacted by changing ecosystems that are complex and interlinked.
In March 2015, the University of Seychelles (UniSey) established the James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute (BERI). The purpose of BERI is to create an active, autonomous, regional knowledge and research network that facilitates the development of partnerships and research, advances sustainability initiatives, and identifies and coordinates synergies between local and international research partners, with a focus on direct and indirect research.
Some of BERI’s research development areas include: Blue Economy specific strategies and case studies; social- and cultural-related aspects of the Blue Economy; ocean governance; ecosystem change and modelling; ecosystem services; natural capital; renewable energy; biotechnology; sea-based products, fisheries and aquaculture; maritime transport and services; coastal and marine ecotourism; climate change; disaster risk reduction; pollution and waste management.
BERI operates within the Faculty of Business and Sustainable Development and works very closely with the Department of Environment. It also serves as an umbrella organisation for entities affiliated to the University, such as the Island Biodiversity & Conservation Centre (IBC centre) and the University Centre for Environmental Education (UCEE).
An advisory committee will guide and support the interests and activities of BERI. It will monitor progress to ensure excellence in all of BERI’s activities, and ensure that the work of BERI is consistent with the Vision, Mission and Values of the University of Seychelles.