Alvania Lawen 2

My inevitable connection with nature

Growing up on a small island in Seychelles, the natural environment is everything to me. Engulfed by the beauty of the ocean, I lived among the plants and animals, connected with nature.
Since a young age, I have been incredibly passionate about environmental conservation. I have always recognised the importance of maintaining and sustaining this precious natural environment.
This island is a popular snorkelling and dive location - a small boat is visible with a person snorkelling. The sculptured yellow granitic rocks are typical of the Seychelles and complement the blue / green surrounding waters. Image courtesy of Getty Images.
3 things you may not know about Seychelles...

  • Seychelles is comprised of over 100 islands. The inner islands of the archipelago are formed by granite and are the only islands in the world that have no coral or volcanic elements.

  • The islands are home to two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Aldabra Atoll and Vallée de Mai.

  • James Bond author, Ian Fleming, visited Seychelles in 1958 looking for adventure and inspiration for his story, For Your Eyes Only.
Alvania talks about her passion for the environment and her work to protect Seychelles from the existential threat of climate change and sea-level rise. 

No one is coming to save us. We must save ourselves.

As a large oceanic state, we are responsible for a vast space and we need larger countries to play their part to reduce the threats our ocean faces.
Understandably, it was alarming when I first learned our planet’s natural world was under threat because it means my island home is particularly vulnerable.
As a small island state lost in a vast oceanic space, we cannot manage environmental risks as effectively as larger countries on the continent. No one is coming to save us. We must save ourselves.
John and Alvania
Alvaina and team

Knowledge is imperative for finding solutions

While volunteering back home, I realised I needed to fuel my passion with education and scientific understanding. Knowledge is imperative for finding solutions.
My quest for knowledge left me searching for the perfect university and course when I was fifteen years old. During my research, I kept reading and hearing positive reviews about the University of Plymouth from graduates and people who spoke highly of its great reputation.
 The most prominent review came from renowned oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence, Dr Sylvia Earle, for whom I had the opportunity to host a beach clean. Her deep interest in my plans sealed the deal. 

Oceans apart

It was essential for me to be reminded of my oceanic home while studying so what better place than Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City.

The University of Plymouth’s BSc (Hons) Environmental Management and Sustainability course stood out as covering the important theoretical and practical aspects I wanted to understand.

Aerial view of Plymouth Hoe

The course experience so far

The sustainability science module in particular has reinforced the things I learned while volunteering in Seychelles.

This module introduced us to environmental systems and sustainability at different scales, learning investigative skills through field and laboratory work.

Environmental management and sustainability student, Alvania, removing plastic remnants from the beach

What next?

Before university, I completed internships at two fantastic organisations in Seychelles.

If I can take my knowledge back to my country, it will help environmental organisations like these to achieve even more.

Longer-term, I see myself continuing to advocate for my island nation. Hopefully, there will be opportunities in the future to come together with other small island states to live a nature-based life to mitigate climate change.

In 20 years’ time, my hope is that we will have convinced other countries to stop using fossil fuels and rely on sustainable alternatives.