Born on 16 August 1944 on the island of Mahé, James Alix Michel was the third president of the Republic of Seychelles. In December 2015, he was re-elected to serve a third and final term in office as President of Seychelles. Barely ten months in office, and after proposing an amendment to the Constitution, limiting presidential mandates to two terms of 5 years (approved by the country’s National Assembly), Michel resigned as president, handing over power to the Vice President.
President Michel is credited with pulling Seychelles back from the brink of financial and economic bankruptcy. Under his stewardship, Seychelles embarked on a macroeconomic reform programme in November 2008 to address its crippling debt, which stood at 180 percent of GDP. Seychelles requested the assistance of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and a number of bilateral partners to put the domestic economy on a sustainable path, which Michel successfully managed.
James Michel has propelled Seychelles on the international scene as an advocate of the cause of small island developing states, the preservation of the environment and, more recently, the “Blue Economy”. He has been responsible for the promulgation of legislation transforming half of Seychelles’ territory into nature reserves – the highest proportion in the world. He co-chaired the Global Island Partnership (GLISPA) and has mobilised political support for the Blue Economy and marine protected areas within island regions of the world.
He was recognised in June 2017 as an “Oceans 8 Champion” by the Intergovernmental Oceanic Commission of UNESCO in June 2017 in appreciation of his efforts to actively promote the “Blue Economy” concept as a new paradigm of development. Michel serves on the Advisory Board of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) of the Blue Planet and is one of the patrons of the World Sustainable Development Forum (WSDF). He was made a Pew-Bertarelli Ocean Ambassador in October 2018 along with other statesmen.
James Michel is the recipient of several international awards, including the Sustainable Development Leadership Award 2013 from the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, for “his visionary and strong leadership in the implementation of sustainable environmental programmes”.
He is the author of several books, including “Rethinking the Oceans: Towards the Blue Economy”, a study of the Blue Economy concept.