Remarks by President James Michel at the Special Summit on Climate Change convened by the UN Secretary General in New York

Tue, 23 September 2014 | Climate Change

Mr Chairman,

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

We have been given four minutes to address this plenary. It doesn’t matter. It is four minutes too many, I say! For now is not the time for speeches, but for action.


We have heard it all before: the well-crafted speeches, the promises and the exhortations…  We have also heard the scientific facts, the complaints, the pleas for help from those on the front line: Small Island Developing States.


But how does that help us when we continue to ignore the truth? Climate change – on our current, avid path – is a crime against humanity.  We are all guilty.  And we are all victims. But increasingly, SIDS themselves, are refusing to be victims.


Speaking as the leader of a Small Island Developing State, I am proud to say that in the spirit of the “Samoa Pathway” many islands are acting on climate change. Because it is crucial to our survival. Because we believe in the survival of humanity.  We believe in the wisdom of mankind to act before it is too late.


We want to take the lead. But we remain burdened by unsustainable debt levels. They challenge our ability to invest in building resilience against climate change.


Seychelles is hoping to finalise innovative debt for adaptation swaps that allow us to create marine protected areas that build climate resilience, while receiving debt reduction.


We also call for more ownership by islands and coastal states of our ‘Blue Economy’, strengthening our ability to build resilience, sustainability, food security and economic prosperity. We need to take into consideration a Vulnerability Index for SIDS.


Mr. Chairman, we must reach an agreement in Paris.


Therefore what is the way forward?


  • We call for the Paris agreement to be a protocol under the UNFCC.
  • It must be an ambitious and legally binding agreement and applicable to all and must be adopted within the shortest possible timeframe.
  • We must agree ambitious targets on the basis of common but differentiated responsibility.
  • We call for the urgent operationalisation of the Warsaw International Mechanism for loss and damage and for a permanent seat on the Executive Committee of the Mechanism to be allocated to SIDS.


  • We must mobilise real adaption funding for all countries particularly taking into consideration the vulnerability of SIDS.


Monsieur le Président,


Finalement je fais un vibrant appel à la conscience de toute l'humanité à travers les sentiments d'un enfant de l'océan.


Récemment, un enfant seychellois s’est adressé au Secrétaire Général des Nations Unies. C’est un cri du cœur qui traduit éloquemment ce que nous ressentons tous en tant qu’insulaires:   « Nous sommes petits et pour beaucoup nous ne comptons pas … Je suis insulaire et fier de l’être. Car je ne souhaiterai vivre nulle part ailleurs… Nos appels se noient dans le vacarme que font les grands de ce monde. Pendant qu’ils s’interrogent sur le montant de leurs profits, personne ne s’intéresse à nous. Nous sommes des laissés pour compte… ».


Mesdames, Messieurs,

En cette année d’action pour le climat, n’oublions pas nos enfants !




Agissons maintenant, résolument, car c’est leur avenir qui est en cause. L’avenir de nous tous !


Je vous remercie.


Editors’ Note

English translation of French extract:

[Mr Chairman,

I make a strong appeal to the conscience of all of humanity through the sentiments of a child of the ocean.

Recently, a Seychellois child wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations. It is a heartfelt plea, which resonates with us all islanders. « We are small, » he wrote, « and to many we are insignificant … I am an islander and proud of it, for there is no other place I would wish to be my home … Our pleas are lost in all the noises made by the great of this world. While they count their profits, we are left unheard, forgotten … » .


Ladies and gentlemen,

In this year of climate action, let us not forget our children.


Let them be heard.


Let us act now, decisively, to safeguard their future. To safeguard our common future.


Thank you.]

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