Abu Dhabi: Tourists visiting hotels and resorts on island nations such as the Seychelles should first check whether they follow eco-friendly practices, a minister told Gulf News.

This is a good example for increased awareness on environmental conservation that compels enterprises to be eco-friendly, the minister said.

This has created a situation that no enterprises can sustain in business without being eco-friendly, Jean-Paul Adam, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles, said on Monday evening.

This helps the global efforts to promote sustainable development practices, he said.

Adam was talking on the sidelines of a press conference to announce the conclusions of the Blue Economy Summit, held in Abu Dhabi to address the unique climate and sustainability challenges facing small island developing states (SIDS) and marine ecosystems.

The finance was a missing element in the debate on sustainable development, the minister said. The new initiatives, especially the UAE’s funding to renewable energy projects in developing countries, have filled that gap, Adam said.

Finance is always available if people think out of the box, a UAE official said. “Instead of known international organisations, small and medium companies can play a major role in sustainable development projects,” said Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, the UAE’s permanent representative to Irena, said.

Jointly held by the UAE and the Republic of Seychelles, the summit was a continuation of the blue economy concept, which was introduced and debated during the United Nation’s Rio+20 conference held June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro. As a result of Rio+20, the blue economy concept — and the urgency to build resilient marine ecosystems — was recognised as a central theme of global sustainable development, climate mitigation and poverty eradication.

“The importance of the blue economy to humankind cannot be underestimated: over 70 per cent of our planet is covered by ocean; 90 per cent of the world’s trade in goods is conducted by sea. Oceans transcend states. They connect us all to each other. And we must harness these connections for development, not just enrichment,” James Alix Michel, President of the Republic of Seychelles, said at the summit.

“We also need to ensure that the benefits from economic activity in our oceans translate into real benefits for our populations,” President Michel said.

“We cannot consider that it is sustainable for certain large industrial fishing fleets to exploit the resources of one sea to the point of exhaustion and then simply move on to other areas. Inclusion, ownership and empowerment of coastal populations are core elements of implementing the Blue Economy,” he added.

“The UAE is working closely with the international community to address sustainable economic growth, global food security, environmental protection and the impacts of climate change,” said Dr. Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and CEO of Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company. “From our fishing to our tourism industry, maintaining the health of our coastlines, mangrove forests and oceans is vital to our economy.

The summit was also attended by Lord Tu‘ivakanō, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tonga, and Dr. The Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam, Prime Minister of Mauritius.