UNITED NATIONS POPULATION INFORMATION NETWORK (POPIN)
UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

94-09-12: Statement of Seychelles, H.E. Mr. William E. Herminie

ISO: SYC

 

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The electronic preparation of this document has been done by the

Population Information Network(POPIN) of the United Nations Population

Division in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme

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 AS WRITTEN





ADDRESS BY MR. WILLIAM E. HERMINIE MINISTER OF

EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS REPUBLIC OF SYCHELLES

AT THF INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON POPULATION AND

DEVELOPMENT, 5-13 SEPTEMBER 1994, CAlRO, EGYPT



MR PRESIDENT

DISTINGUISHED DELEGATES

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN



IT GIVES ME GREAT PLEASURE AND IS A PRIVILEGE TO ADDRESS THIS AUGUST

GATHERING, AS LEADER OF THE DELEGATION FROM THE REPUBLIC OF SEYCHELLES.

MAY I ALSO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO THANK THE GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE OF

EGYPT THROUGH HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUBARAK FOR THE HOSPITALITY

AFFORDED TO MY DELEGATION



MR. PRESIDENT, AT THIS POINT IN OUR HISTORY, NO OTHER CONFERENCE IS AS

IMPORTANT FOR MANKIND AS THIS CONFERENCE ON POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT .

NO DOUBT YOU WILL AGREE THAT MOST WORLD CONFERENCES SEEM TO HAVE LITTLE

MEANING FOR THE MEN AND WOMEN IN THE STREET . THIS CONFERENCE PROMISES

TO BE DIFFERENT . THE DRAFT PROGRAM OF ACTION BEFORE US WHICH HAS BEEN

SUBJECTED TO WIDE CONSULTATIONS FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS NOW, IS A

TESTIMONY TO THE FACT THAT THE CONFERENCE'S VESTED INTEREST IS INDEED 1N

PEOPLE.



WE ARE HERE IN THIS BEAUTIFUL ANCIENT CITY OF CAIRO NOT ONLY TO SUPPORT

THIS INTEREST, BUT TO MAP OUT A COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY FOR THE BENEFIT

OF MANKIND. WE MUST PUT ASIDE OUR DIFFERENCES AND SEARCH FOR CONSENSUS

WE CAN NOT AFFORD TO FAIL..



MY COUNTRY ON THE WHOLE ENDORSES THE DRAFT PROGRAM OF ACTION OF THIS

CONFERENCE, BECAUSE IT AIMS AT PROVIDING PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS TO A NUMBER

OF PROBLEMATIC ISSUES AFFECTING THE PEOPLES OF THE WORLD. THERE ARE

HOWEVER AREAS IN THE DRAFT WHICH NEED TO BE FURTHER DISCUSSED AND

IMPROVED UPON . THE OVERALL THEME OF OUR CONFERENCE: POPULATION,

SUSTAINED ECONOMIC GROWTH AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, IS ALSO SOUND. IT

ENCOMPASSES THE DEPLETION OF BASIC RESOURCES, ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION,

RAPID GROWTH IN HUMAN NUMBERS, WIDESPREAD AND PERSISTENT POVERTY, SOCIAL

AND ECONOMIC INEQUALITY, AND WASTEFUL CONSUMPTION. THESE FACTORS, IF NOT

ADDRESSED AND ALLOWED TO DEVELOP OUT OF CONTROL, WILL AFFECT THE FUTURE

GENERATIONS AND THE FUTURE OF OUR PLANET.



MR. PRESIDENT, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE SEYCHELLES, OFTEN CALLED "LAND

OF PARADISE ", IS A SMALL ISLAND STATE OCCUPYING NO LESS THAN 1.3

MILLION SQUARE KILOMETERS,OF THE INDIAN OCEAN THE TOTAL LAND AREA OF OUR

COUNTRY IS 455.3 SQUARE KILOMETERS AND IS COMPRISED OF 115 ISLANDS.



THE POPULATION OF SEYCHELLES IS MULTIRACIAL AND THE 72000 PEOPLE LIVE IN

HARMONY. POPULATION DENSITY ON THE MAIN ISLAND MAHE, WHERE 90 % OF THE

POPULATION LIVES IS ONE OF THE HIGHEST IN THE WORLD . IT IS ABOUT 400

PERSONS PER SQUARE KILOMETER. THE POPULATION GROWTH RATE IS APPROX. .

0.4 % PER ANNUM AND FERTILITY HAS DECLINED TO 2.5 CHILDREN PER WOMEN .

THIS IS LARGELY DUE TO AN EFFECTIVE FAMILY PLANNING PROGRAMME .



THE ISLANDS OF SEYCHELLES HAVE BEEN BESTOWED WITH FRAGILE AND UNIQUE

ECOSYSTEMS TOURISM AND FISHING ARE OUR PRINCIPAL SOURCES OF REVENUE..



MR. PRESIDENT SEYCHELLES IS ALSO ONE OF THE SMALLEST NATIONS IN THE

WORLD .THE SKETCH I HAVE PAINTED OF MY COUNTRY AND PEOPLE WILL HELP YOU

TO APPRECIATE WHY THE SEYCHELLOIS SO VEHEMENTLY SPEAK OF POPULATION

ISSUES IN THE SAME BREATH AS OF THOSE OF ENVIRONMENT .



CONSEQUENTLY, MY ADDRESS WILL BE DEVOTED TO THE VITAL LINK BETWEEN

POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT AS PREREQUISITES TO THE ACHIEVMENT OF

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. BEFORE I COME TO THAT HOWEVER, I WOULD LIKE TO

SHARE SEYCHELLE'S EXPERIENCE ON OTHER POPULATION ISSUES .



THE DRAFT PROGRAM OF ACTION IF ADOPTED COMMITS THE INTERNATIONAL

COMMUNITY TO QUANTITATIVE GOALS IN SEVERAL AREAS OF CRITICAL IMPORTANCE

FOR THE ACHIEVEMENT OF MANY POPULATION AND DEVELOPMENT OBJECTTVES. WHERE

DO WE STAND IN THE SEYCHELLES VIS-A-VIS THE SET GOALS ?



DUE TO THE lNTENSIVE DEVELOPMENTS IN HEALTH CARE OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS,

THE LEVELS OF MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY INCLUDING INFANT MORTALITY HAVE

SIGNIFICANTLY DECREASED. INFANT MORTALITY PER 1000 BIRTHS HAS DROPPED

FROM 13.0 TO 11.9 DEATHS IN 1990 AND 1992 RESPECTIVELY . MATERNAL

MORTALITY IN 1993 WAS ZERO.



HUMAN RESOURCE, ESPECIALLY CHILDREN REMAIN OUR COUNTRY'S MOST PRECIOUS

RESOURCE. I AM PROUD TO SAY THAT FREE ACCESS TO BASIC HEALTH CARE, AND

EDUCATION ARE GUARANTEED TO ALL OUR CHILDREN.  AS A FOLLOW UP TO OUR

ACCESSION TO THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF CHILDREN, THE GOVERNMENT

HAS ADOPTED A NATIONAL PROGRAMME OF ACTION FOR CHILDREN .



AS IN MANY DEVELOPING COUNTRIES, OUR POPULATION HAS A LARGE PORTION OF

YOUNG PEOPLE AND IN OUR CASE, ABOUT 50% OF SEYCHELLOIS ARE UNDER THE AGE

OF TWENTY YEARS. THIS SITUATION CREATES DEMANDS FOR HEALTH, EDUCATION

AND EMPLOYMENT AND REPRESENTS MAJOR CHALLENGES FOR FAMILIES AND LOCAL

COMMUNITIES.



MR. PRESIDENT, IN THE PAST FEW DAYS, A LOT HAS BEEN SAID ABOUT

EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN . I NOTE THAT TWO THIRDS OF THE 960 MILLION

ILLITERATE ADULTS OF THE WORLD ARE WOMEN . BY CONTRAST, IN SEYCHELLES

THE ADULT LITERACY RATE AMONG WOMEN IS 86%, SLIGHTLY HIGHER THAN THE

RATE FOR MEN.



FOR US, EDUCATION IS THE KEY FOR EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN. IT IS ONLY

THROUGH' THE ACQUISITION OF EDUCATION AND SKILLS THAT WOMEN WILL BE ABLE

TO MAKE INFORMED CHOICES ON FAMILY PLANNING AND OTHER ISSUES AFFECTING

THEM .



BUT THE EDUCATION OF WOMEN CANNOT BE AN ISOLATED PROCESS. MEN TOO MUST

BE EDUCATED. IT IS ONLY THROUGH THIS TWO PRONGED APPROACH THAT WOMEN AND

MEN CAN REALLY BECOME EQUAL PARTNERS IN DEVELOPMENT.



THE DEVELOPMENT OF OUR COUNTRY HAS GREATLY BENEFITED FROM THIS

PARTNERSHIP.



MR. PRESIDENT, I AM GLAD TO NOTE THAT A SUBCHAPTER IN CHAPTER VI COVERS

THE ELDERLY PEOPLE AND THAT A NEW SUBCHAPTER HAS BEEN ADDED TO ADDRESS n

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES " . THESE ARE IMPORTANT ISSUES TO BE INCLUDED

BECAUSE A SOCIETY IS JUDGED BY THE WAY IT TREATS ITS ELDERLY AND ITS

DISABLED .



THE IMPROVEMENT OF HEALTH FACILITIES IN OUR COUNTRY HAS LED TO AN

INCREASE IN THE QUALITY OF LIFE AND LIFE EXPECTANCY OF OUR PEOPLE



BY INTRODUCING AN OLD AGE PENSION AND PROVIDING INFRASTRUCTURAL

FACILITIES OUR GOVERNMENT HAS ENSURED THAT THE ELDERLY CAN LEAD A

DIGNIFIED AND PROTECTED LIFE .



AS REGARDS THE DISABLED, LEGISLATIVE AND ADMINISTRATIVE MEASURES HAVE

BEEN TAKEN IN SEYCHELLES TO INTRODUCE POSITIVE DISCRIMINATION AS A MEANS

TO INTEGRATE THE DISABLED IN THE WORLD OF WORK AND OTHERWISE ASSIST THEM

TO PARTICIPATE FULLY IN SOCIETY .



MR. PRESIDENT, LET ME NOW TURN TO THE ISSUE OF POPULATION AND

ENVIRONMENT, FIRST IN A GENERAL CONTEXT AND THEN THROUGH SEYCHELLES

EXPERIENCE. HUMAN ACTIVITIES AND POPULATION DYNAMICS ARE INEXTRICABLY

CONNECTED TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS IN ALL COUNTRIES .



WORLDWIDE, MILLIONS OF LIVES ARE AT STAKE. PEOPLE NEED

FOOD,CLOTHING,SHELTER AND EMPLOYMENT TO LIVE. AS THE WORLD POPULATION

WILL RISE FROM THE PRESENT 5.7 BILLION TO 6.3 BILLION PEOPLE BY THE YEAR

2000, MORE AND MORE PRESSURE WILL BE PLACED ON THE ENVIRONMENT TO

SATISFY THESE NEEDS.



MR. PRESIDENT, I COMMEND THE DRAFT PROGRAM OF ACTION WHICH HIGHLIGHTS

THE INTERRELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT. MEETING THE

CHALLENGE OF POPULATION SIZE, CHANGE AND IMBALANCES IN DISTRIBUTION,

WHILE THE CRITICAL RESOURCES -WATER, SOIL, FAUNA, FOREST AND OTHER FLORA

CONTINUE TO DEPLETE, IS UNDOUBTEDLY ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT, IF NOT

THE MOST IMPORTANT, TASKS THE WORLD HAS TO FACE, NOW, TODAY.



THE SERIOUSNESS OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS TODAY DEMANDS A NEW APPROACH.

I WOULD LIKE HERE TO QUOTE HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH,

WHO ONCE SAID. "PLEASE TAKE AN INTEREST IN THE HEALTH OF OUR PLANET, IT

IS THE ONLY ONE WE HAVE."



SPEAKING FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A SMALL ISLAND STATE, I PROPOSE THAT

THE TEXT AND THE TONE OF THE DRAFT PROGRAM OF ACTION BE ENRICHED AND

ENHANCED BY THE INCLUSION OF THE SPECIFIC CONCERNS AND ISSUES PERTAINING

TO AND EXPERIENCED BY SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES(SIDS) WHICH OFTEN

HAVE HIGHLY VULNERABLE ECOSYSTEMS.



THE "BIG ISSUES" SUCH AS CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTERS,

WASTE MANAGEMENT, COASTAL AND MARINE RESOURCEC,FRESHWATER AND LAND

RESOURCES, TO NAME A FEW WERE IDENTIFIED BY THE GLOBAL CONFERENCE ON THE

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES (SIDS), IN

BARBADOS EARLY THIS YEAR. THEY DESERVE A SPECIAL ATTENTION BY OUR

CONFERENCE.



THERE ARE MANY USEFUL LESSONS TO BE LEARNED, ESPECIALLY AS THE

EXPERIENCES OF SIDS HAVE BEEN TESTED AND REPORTED IN ALMOST " LABORATORY

SIZE n CONDITIONS. AT THE CORE OF ALL THESE ISSUES LIES THE MATTER OF

ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION.



FOR THE PURPOSE OF ILLUSTRATING HOW THE POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT IN

THE CONTEXT OF SMALL ISLAND STATES ARE CLEARLY LINKED, I WISH TO SAY A

FEW WORDS ON COASTAL AND MARINE RESOURCES. MOST SMALL ISLAND COUNTRIES

ARE HIGHLY DEPENDENT ON THESE RESOURCES - ON FISH FOR FOOD AND EXPORT

INCOME, AND ON HEALTHY REEFS, LAGOONS AND BEACHES TO SUSTAIN ECOSYSTEMS

AND ATTRACT TOURISM. NORMALLY A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF THE POPULATION LIVES

ON THE COASTAL ZONE, AND THE DENSITY IS EXPECTED TO RISE DUE TO LIMITED

AMOUNT OF BUILDABLE LAND ELSEWHERE TO ACCOMMODATE A GROWING POPULATION .



HERE, THE SEYCHELLES IS A CASE IN POINT; WE HAVE HAD TO STRIKE A BALANCE

BETWEEN PRESERVING CORAL REEFS AND MARINE LIFE AND LAND RECLAMATION TO

CATER FOR BUILDABLE LAND.



IT IS MY SINCERE HOPE, MR PRESIDENT, THAT THE CAIRO CONFERENCE COMMITS

ITSELF TO A HOLISTIC APPROACH IN FINDING SOLUTIONS TO THE CRITICAL

PROBLEMS I HAVE JUST ARTICULATED. WE WOULD BE SAVING OUR CHILDREN AND

OUR PLANET IN ADOPTING REALISTIC AND CONCRETE PLANS AND POLICIES FOR THE

ACHIEVEMENT OF THE EQUALLY IMPORTANT OBJECTIVES OF POPULATION CONTROL,

SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND MINIMAL LONG-TERM ENVIRONMENTAL

DAMAGE .



AS YOU WILL HAVE GATHERED FROM MY ADDRESS SO FAR, FOR US IN SEYCHELLES

ENVIRONMENT CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AND WILL

CONTINUE TO FEATURE AT THE FOREFRONT OF OUR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

STRATEGIES. WE HAVE IN FACT PREPARED OUR ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PLAN

COVERING THE PERIOD 1990 TO THE YEAR 2000 . AS I ADDRESS YOU, OUR

PARLIAMENT IS DEBATING A BILL OF LAW WHICH WILL ESTABLISH AN AGENCY FOR

BIODIVERSITY.



WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT IF WE ARE TO LIVE IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT, OUR

POPULATION MUST BE ENVIRONMENT SENSITIVE. WITH ENVIRONMENT BEING

INTEGRATED IN THE SCHOOL PROGRAM, ACTIVE NATURE CLUBS AND PRIVATE AND

NGO INITIATIVES, I CAN SAY THAT OUR POPULATION IS BECOMING MORE AWARE OF

THE NEED TO PREVENT ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION FROM HAPPENING.



MR. PRESIDENT, IN ADDITION MY GOVERNMENT IS IN THE PROCESS OF

FORMULATING A COMPREHENSIVE POPULATION POLICY, WHICH WILL SEEK TO OBTAIN

A BALANCE BETWEEN POPULATION GROWTH, ECONOMIC GROWTH AND PROTECTION OF

THE ENVIRONMENT. THE CAIRO EXPERIENCE WILL NO DOUBT HELP US.



LAST BUT NOT LEAST, IT IS OUR ARDENT WISH THAT THE CONFERENCE ATTAINS

ITS PRINCIPAL GOAL IN REACHING A BROAD CONSENSUS ON THE FINAL TEXT OF

THE PLAN OF ACTION .



MR PRESIDENT, THE BEST PROGRAMS FOR FAMILY PLANNING, HEALTH CARE,

EDUCATION AND BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS WILL BE MEANINGLESS IF WE FAIL TO

PRESERVE THE GLOBE IN WHICH WE LIVE. WE OWE THAT MUCH TO OUR CHILDREN.

LET IT BE A CHALLENGE TO US ALL ,



THANK YOU


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