The FINANCIAL — The Republic of Seychelles has launched the world’s first sovereign blue bond—a pioneering financial instrument designed to support sustainable marine and fisheries projects.
The bond, which raised US$15 million from international investors, demonstrates the potential for countries to harness capital markets for financing the sustainable use of marine resources. The World Bank assisted in developing the blue bond and reaching out to the three investors: Calvert Impact Capital, Nuveen, and Prudential.
Proceeds from the bond will include support for the expansion of marine protected areas, improved governance of priority fisheries and the development of the Seychelles’ blue economy. Grants and loans will be provided through the Blue Grants Fund and Blue Investment Fund, managed respectively by the Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) and the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS).
Seychelles is an archipelagic nation consisting of 115 granite and coral islands. It has a land area of 455 km2 spread across an Exclusive Economic Zone of approximately 1.4 million km2. As one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, Seychelles is balancing the need to both develop economically and protect its natural endowment.
Marine resources are critical to the country’s economic growth. After tourism, the fisheries sector is the country’s most important industry, contributing significantly to annual GDP and employing 17% of the population. Fish products make up around 95% of the total value of domestic exports.
The Seychelles blue bond is partially guaranteed by a US$5 million guarantee from the World Bank (IBRD) and further supported by a US$5 million concessional loan from the GEF which will partially cover interest payments for the bond. Proceeds from the bond will also contribute to the World Bank’s South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Program, which supports countries in the region to sustainably manage their fisheries and increase economic benefits from their fisheries sectors.
A World Bank team comprising experts from its Treasury, Legal, Environmental and Finance groups worked with investors, structured the blue bond and assisted the Government in setting up a platform for channeling its proceeds. The business case for a sovereign blue bond was initially identified through support to Seychelles from HRH Prince of Wales’ Charities International Sustainability Unit. Standard Chartered acted as placement agent for the bond and Latham & Watkins LLP advised the World Bank as external counsel. Clifford Chance LLP acted as transaction counsel.