Maldives forms environment police as civil society criticises lack of enforcement, legislation

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) and the Ministry of Environment and Energy have announced the formation of a new unit that will assign 22 trained officers to deal with ecological violations across the country.

The Environmental Police Unit, formed through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed on June 6, will aim to investigate and punish violations of laws relating to biodiversity and littering, the Environment Ministry claimed in an email to Minivan News.

Formation of the new unit comes as NGOs and not for profit groups have raised individual concerns over a perceived lack of enforcement or a clear legal framework to uphold environmental protection efforts across the country.

These ongoing concerns over enforcement are said to already directly impact both the country’s fledgling national parks and marine reserves, as well as on individual inhabited islands.


According to the Environment Ministry, officers from the new police unit will be required to assist the state in enforcing national regulations such as in providing sports fines related to vehicular emissions or cases of illegal sand-mining, or dealing with poaching of protected species in the country.

Police will also be required to share details of environmental crimes to the ministry, which did not share any further information on the specific offences that police will asked to focus on at time of press.

Under the MOU, the Environment Ministry will be required to give technical advice on the formation of the environment unit, including training for 22 officers in dealing with environmental crime.

The ministry is also called on to host workshops and awareness events for various agencies within the police force, as well as for customs officials, port authorities and the coast guard.

Environment authorities are also required through the MOU to provide all necessary information on laws and regulations, as well as other treaties and agreements signed by the Maldives as part of the country’s wider sustainability aims.

Stakeholder concerns

Numerous stakeholders in Maldives’ environment sector have meanwhile this week told Minivan News that a perceived lack enforcement as well as concise national legislation has in recent years held back ecological protection efforts.

For Ali Rilwan, Executive Director for local NGO BluePeace, a lack of enforcement of the country’s environmental regulations was believed to be the most pertinent long-standing issue setting back conservation and protection efforts at present.

Rilwan claimed that a lack of national mechanisms to report and enforce environmental crimes continued to hamper state initiatives to curb practices such as harvesting of turtles eggs and the export of shark.

In the case of national parks and biospheres, Rilwan alleged that a lack of enforcement was a particular problem for any conservation attempts.

He claimed that without such regulation, marine reserves and other conservation zones currently established in the country were operating more as “paper parks” than designated protected areas.

According to Rilwan, the lack of a nationwide enforcement mechanism to protect environmental laws was presently most apparent in smaller islands where police presence was often limited, making it difficult to report suspected offences.

“The police are supposed to have already been enforcing laws and regulations for environmental protection. But enforcement is something that we have not seen attempted,” he said.

Rilwan added that with the Environment Ministry not having representation within island councils, monitoring potential abuses of environmental law on more than 1,000 islands across the country would limit the effectiveness.

“There are local councils who can focus on the issue, but in the case of any criminal acts, councillors themselves would not be able to investigate or penalise any perpetrators contravening environmental law,” he said.

Rilwan added that with the training of environmental police in the country, he believed there could be an opportunity for effective enforcement going forward.

However, Mohamed Hameed, Promoter of the Edu Faru Marine National Park project in Noonu Atoll, has said he believes the Maldives main challenge regarding ecological protection was the continued lack of a holistic legal framework to protect the environment.

“The Maldives at present is an example of a very sensitive environment. You can get police to check on it, but you need a legal framework to protect these places,” he said. “At present, this legislative framework is lacking.”

Despite successive government in the Maldives playing up sustainability as a key part of their national development plans, Hameed said that current legislation on the environment was presently “all over the place” with various laws overlapping ad contradicting each other in some cases.

Taking successful international examples of marine reserves such as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef or the Kosterhavet National Park in Sweden, he claimed that both parks were protected within the respective legal frameworks of both nations.

Without similar amendments being considered in the Maldives, Hameed said that it would be very difficult to ensure projects like the Edu Faru MNP were properly protected.

He claimed from his own experience of trying to establish the country’s first MNP, a process said to have taken over two decades, efforts to set up an environmental not for profit organisation had been complicated by the fragmented legislative framework presently used in the country.

Hameed claimed that despite both President Dr Mohamed Waheed and former President Mohamed Nasheed supporting the MNP’s formation, he was still waiting for official paperwork and all the agreed lands to be handed over to him so work could fully begin on the site.

The MNP, which was established through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Environment Ministry back in 2011, is designed to protect nine islets by keeping them in a “pristine” state and undeveloped for future research.

Reserve focus

National parks and reserves are expected to become an increasingly important part of the Maldives conservation efforts on the back of a pledge by the current government to make the country the world’s largest marine reserve by 2017.

The government has is committed to move ahead with plans to transform the Maldives into a biosphere reserve through the designation of zones across the country that would earmark land use for specific purposes such as tourism development or conservation.


“They do not care”: Maldives outsources climate change pavilion at international art show

The Tourism Ministry outsourced the Maldives’ first national pavilion at the Venice Biennale art show to an Arab-European collective of curators, some of whom have alleged the Maldives government does not care about climate change or the arts.

The overarching theme of the Maldives’ pavilion, entitled “Portable Nation: Disappearance as a Work in Progress – Approaches to Ecological Romanticism”, is about how the survival of the nation, Maldivian people and cultural heritage are threatened by catastrophic climate change impacts, such as rising sea levels.

The pavilion is meant to raise awareness and be a call to action against climate change as well as explore questions of environmental impact, climate change and migration in the Maldives, as part of the art show taking place in Venice, Italy.

The art exhibitions also highlights Maldivians’ current efforts to archive and collect as much of their cultural heritage as possible, prior to the entire nation’s disappearance, due to rising sea levels, and the subsequent forced displacement of 350,000 people.

The Maldives pavilion was “almost abandoned” following the controversial transfer of power February 7, 2012, given that it was originally an initiative of former President Mohamed Nasheed and envisioned as a way to draw attention to climate change and the plight faced by the Maldives, according to an article published by the Inter Press Service (IPS).

Although Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ahmed Adeeb commissioned the pavilion, President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s government “lost interest” in the initiative and allowed a joint Arab-European collective of artists, called the Chamber of Public Secrets (CPS), to curate the exhibitions, alleges the IPS.

Some of the Maldives pavilion curators have accused Waheed’s government of having no interest in the arts, the pavilion exhibitions, or climate change.

“They did not care. They did not mind. They don’t believe in the power of art to affect anything anyway,” associate curator Maren Richter told the IPS.

“The new government even denies the [climate change] problem and says that Nasheed was a liar. They say, ‘He built an airport and resorts, why would he do that if sea levels are rising?’,” added Richter.

CPS curator and Lebanese artist Khaled Ramadan echoed these sentiments in his documentary “Maldives To Be or Not”, which “explores Western preconceived notions about the Maldives and its ecology.”

The film focuses on the current socio-political challenges faced by Maldivians, which include climate change as well as “the corrupt tourism industry” and the struggle “to balance their life between modernity and traditions,” he explained to the publication BLOUIN ARTINFO.

Ramadan visited the Maldives in March 2013 as a “citizen of the Arab world who wanted to learn about what’s left of the shared history and how this amphibious nation is treating its contemporary culture in relation to its ecological strengths and weaknesses.”

“The environmental hazard about the Maldivian nature is an over politicised notion, and the nature has proven to be much more sustainable than the Maldivian culture,” wrote the Maldives Pavilion blog.

“Would our request to represent Maldives as outsiders have been accepted by Venice Biennale officials without official letter from the current Maldives government?” asked Ehsan Fardjadniya, an artist and activist based in Amsterdam participating in Maldives Pavilion.

The initial ideas for the Maldives pavilion were to unite a network of activists to discuss and act on climate change issues and the ongoing political turmoil in the country via a mobile pavilion representing the forced migration of these future climate refugees, Fardjadniya explained in an interview for the Maldives Pavilion blog.

“Right now, the project has found a venue and doesn’t seem to relate itself much or at all with the pressing issues in the Maldives,” said Fardjadniya. “On the contrary, we seem to be commissioned by the current government to represent the Maldives at 55th Venice Biennale.”

“I would rather be an outsider to this present situation and act against this cultural coup,” Fardjadniya declared.

The Maldives pavilion includes a variety of exhibitions created by international multi-media artists, individual contributors and group collaborations.

While the exhibitions were primarily created by artists of various nationalities, two Maldivians, Moomin Fouad and Mohamed Ali, contributed their film “Happy Birthday”. The film, about a kidnapping and disappearance, previously won 12 MFA Awards at the 2011 Maldives Film Festival.

The 55th Venice Biennale was launched on 29 May and will be open to visitors until 24 November.

The Biennale claims to be “one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the world…promoting new artistic trends and organising international events in contemporary arts” since its formation in 1895.

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ahmed Adeeb was not responding to calls at time of press.

Addendum: Following publication of this article Minivan News received the following statement from Abed Anouti, Producer at the Chamber of Public Secrets, in response to an enquiry made by Minivan News the previous day.

In compliance with CPS’s copyright request Minivan News has also taken down an image of the pavilion’s promotional poster, distributed by CPS and used to illustrate the story.

The article by Ferry Biedermann published at IPS is full of miss information. Mr. Ferry NEVER interviewed anyone from the Maldives Pavilion, his claims stand for his own account. He has no sound recording, email correspondence, footage or even photos from the curators of the pavilion to support his claims.

As we do with all journalists, we only presented to Mr. Ferry our PR which is published on our website. CPS always asks journalists to look at our PR statement at our website to learn more about the project. He didn’t use time to study the artworks at the pavilion, he is not an art writer or even cultural writer, he is another journalist who is looking for sensations.

Mr. Ferry Biedermann is not the only journalist who took advantage of our positive pavilion to score political or journalistic points to himself or his agency.

Minivan is another agency that is spreading rumors and misquotations. Neither the curators of the Maldives Pavilion nor the participating artists have given any interviews to Ferry Biedermann or Minivan.

CPS team and the invited artists worked hard for over a year on the issue of climate change to present a research based art exhibition in Venice, our focus is not only Maldives but environment in a global context.

So far professional art writers have been given the Maldives Pavilion the best reviews and we are among the most popular destinations of the Venice Biennale. Furthermore, the Maldives Pavilion was the only one to be interviewed by the Italian national TV on the day of the opening.

As a professional artists group, we approach the Maldives with positive thinking, we are not journalists who seek negative stories. We don’t wish to politicize art and refuse to be part of any political sensational publishing agencies like Minivan.

Just for the record all conversations and emails with non-professional art writers or art critics are published on our web to avoid misuse or misquotation of any of us like in the case with Mr. Ferry.

Finally, Minivan unethically used our graphic poster without our knowledge or permission. Therefore we urge you to remove it from your website due to copyright.

Abed Anouti,

CPS – Producer


Climate institutions in “flux”, consolidation needed for Maldives Green Fund success: leaked Transparency report

The Environment Ministry claims climate mitigation and adaptation projects have not been affected by government instability, however leaked draft Transparency Maldives reports indicate that climate governance institutions are in a state of “flux” and suffer from a lack of accountability, including the proposed Maldives Green Fund.

Currently, the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MEE) is implementing MVR 3.1 billion (US$201,298,810) worth of climate projects, which does not include donor funded programs implemented by “other sectoral agencies” and NGOs, MEE Environment Analyst, and contributor to the MGF’s establishment, Aishath Aileen Niyaz told Minivan News.

In an effort to merge all the currently established trust funds in accordance with the government’s Biosphere Reserve sustainable development policy, President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s cabinet recently proposed the establishment of a Maldives Green Fund (MGF).

“The Maldives Green Fund is designed to work as a national entity that would comply with international fiduciary standards for enabling, appraising and financing projects,” explained Niyaz.

“The MGF will act as both a funder and guarantor of projects in the areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency, biodiversity conservation, water management, waste management and capacity building and research in these areas,” she continued.

The current US$9.5 million Climate Change Trust Fund (CCTF) and US$138 million the Sustainable Renewable Energy Project (SREP) have been designed to complement the MGF, with both projects allocating resources for MGF capacity building, according to Niyaz.

“It is envisaged that by the time these projects are concluded, the MGF will be in a strong enough position to take manage such funds and take on the lead responsibility for such projects and in the Maldives,” said Niyaz.

She further explained that to protect climate funds from fraudulent practices “checks and balances” are in place, such as government anti-corruption procedures derived from financial laws and regulations, as well as rules of the implementing international organisation.

Niyaz also claims that government instability has not affected climate finance in the Maldives.

“Since most of the [climate change related] projects were ongoing at the time of [the 2012 government] transition, there was no real impact on their implementation. Furthermore, the negotiations for pipeline projects continued on pace,” she stated.

Meanwhile, “It is a general concern from Transparency Maldives’ studies that institutions in the Maldives, including climate institutions, are in a state of flux and not consolidated. New ones are being created and existing ones inactive or ineffective. This results in confusion, waste, delays, and duplications,” states a Transparency Maldives (TM) MGF Policy Brief dated December 17, 2012.

TM estimates that approximately US$160.5 million is being spent on various climate adaptation and mitigation projects through externally funded grants and loans, while an additional US$ 279,480,275 is required for short-medium term (10 years) adaptation and a further US$ 161,500,000 will be needed for long-term (40 years) adaption, states a Transparency Maldives Climate Governance Integrity Mapping of Climate Finance draft report.

“The fact that the state is a transitional democracy, with only emergent institutions of horizontal and vertical accountability, has posed significant challenges to climate change governance. The lack of a legislative framework for the sector also exacerbates the situation,” said the report.

“Moreover, the country is grappling with corruption and lacks effective governance mechanisms to address the issue. In 2010, Maldives was placed at 143rd on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, with an average score of 2.3, indicating that perceived levels of corruption in the country are very high,” it continued.

The Maldives lacks a comprehensible overall institutional framework and comprehensive policy for addressing climate change, which adds to the confusion of the existing climate change mandates, TM identified. Additionally, no comprehensive database of climate projects currently exists.

This has resulted in ad hoc monitoring and evaluation of climate projects and institutional rivalry between ministries, according to TM.

“Another major challenge in climate change governance is the lack of experts in this area. The key climate experts of the country have multiple responsibilities and a very demanding schedule to fulfill their obligations. They are on multiple governing bodies…,” noted the report.

TM also highlighted the challenges that exist for ordinary citizens to gain access to information, including climate change related projects, despite the existence of a regulation on the right to information.

“Given that most official institutions are based in the capital island of Male’, accessing these information is especially challenging for the majority of the population who reside in other islands,” the report stated.

“In principle establishing a ‘green fund’ to consolidate climate change mitigation and adaptation money is ‘ok’ as long as it adheres to international best practices and good governance standards,” Transparency Maldives Climate Governance Senior Project Manager Azim Zahir recently told Minivan News.

Transparency Maldives had not responded to enquiries at time of press.

MGF plan

“One of the aims of the Maldives Green Fund is to roll out the Baa Atoll Conservation Fund – the funding arm supporting the Baa Atoll Biosphere Reserve – model to the entire country,” said Niyaz.

“The MGF will provide access to funds in simpler procedures for the private sector,” she added.

Essentially the MGF will function “largely as a co-financier of projects, and will work diligently to engage the financial support of other sources”, states a December 2012 draft 2 of the MGF triennial spending strategy 2013-2015.

MGF financial support – in the form of direct grants, interest rate subsidies and soft loans – will be available to “public institutions (including schools, hospitals, etc), small and medium sized enterprises, NGOs, government institutions at all levels, and natural persons,” notes the document. However, it “should be additional to other available sources of finance and not a replacement for them”.

The Maldives government is to provide the initial capital for the MGF, totalling MVR 3 million (US$194,805).

“The Fund’s limited resources will not be used to finance projects or activities that should normally be undertaken by government institutions and financed by government budgets, e.g. compensation and salaries of government authorities, trips of governmental officials to conferences, development of laws and policies, etc.,” both the December draft spending strategy and October 2012 draft 1 operational manual specify.

Despite these proposed regulations for project funding, the December 2012 MGF draft 5 legislation, provides MGF board of directors members remuneration in the form of a “fee for their work” and “reimbursement of expenses” to attend board meetings.

“The level of fees for participation in the work of the Board of Directors shall be defined by the Board of Directors itself, taking into account compensation fees for Board of Directors members of similar government companies established in the Republic of Maldives and complying with the provisions of the President’s Decree as regards maximum permissible levels of administrative costs,” as stated in Fund Governence, section 2 article 12 of the MGF draft legislation.

Compensation for board of directors members is also included under administrative costs in the fund spending policy section four, article 12.

The MGF board of directors will be comprised of a chairperson from the MEE and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Finance and Treasury, Local Government Authority, Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industries, as well as Maldives Association of Tourism Industry and a non-governmental environmental organisation.

The 2013 budget will allocate US$166,320 for personnel compensation and US$7,000 for administrative expenditures.

However, the MGF education and research priority area will receive US$66,690.

As a supervisory mechanism, the MGF will establish an independent integrity unit and redress mechanism that will report to the board of directors, as specified in the draft legislation section 5 article 16.

“In line with the provisions of the President’s Decree, the Ministry of Environment and Energy [providing a chairperson for the MGF board] shall receive full and unrestricted cooperation from the Fund in order to exercise adequate administrative control and supervision of the Fund’s operations,” reads draft legislation section 2 article 43.

The draft legislation, operations manual, and triennial spending strategy documents were prepared by Æquilibrium Consulting for the MEE.

MGF recommendations

MGF documents, including the Operations Manual and Legislation were not provided to stakeholders like Transparency Maldives prior to the stakeholder conference on 11 December finalising MGF documents, TM claimed in their Maldives Green Fund Policy Brief.

Despite being given “insufficient time (a week)… to comment more specifically and comprehensively on documents of such a technical nature,” TM highlighted a number of MGF issues.

They recommend that the MGF be established through People’s Majlis (Parliament) legislation, notPresidential Decree, given that the “MGF is created to handle large sums of public money and projects and programme implemented for the public”, said the policy brief.

TM also identified the potential for MGF board members to have conflicts of interest which would “compromise independence of the directors” and recommended the government reconsider appointing an independent board.

They also “encourage that declarations of financial interests and disclosure of conflicts of interest be made public,” noted the policy brief.

Given that “minimal reference” is made to or incorporated from the Code of Corporate Governance, TM also recommended a code of conduct be established for all MGF employees which elaborates mechanisms, responsibilities, operations, and practices.

“Bringing forward” educational awareness and research activities is also emphasised, to ensure these activities “have the necessary impact during project cycles”.


Two fishermen lost at sea for three weeks found near Sumatra

Two fishermen lost at sea for three weeks were found early this morning by an oil tanker off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia.

The men, 39 year-old Hassan Rasheed from Maamigili Island in Alif Dhaalu Atoll and 32 year-old Abdulla Waheed from Maavashu Island in Laamu Atoll, went missing May 4 aboard the fishing vessel “Azum”. The two crewmen and the 40 foot light-green fishing boat disappeared after departing from Mulak Island in Meemu Atoll en route to Maavah Island in Laamu Atoll.

“An oil tanker registered in the Marshall Islands, travelling to China, found the two men,” Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem told Minivan News today (May 25).

“They were 987 miles away from the Maldives, 300 miles off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia,” said Raheem.

The Coast Guard was contacted early this morning at 6:10am and spoke to Hassan Rasheed, explained Raheem.

“After so many days they are in good condition, a bit weak, but OK. It is very good news, we are happy they have been found in good health,” he added.

Raheem was unsure of the reason for the Azum dhoni to drift so far off course.

“I don’t believe their boat would have had fuel after such a long period of time, there also could have been problems with the engine,” he speculated.

“The oil tanker will be stopping in Singapore on May 28 and we’ll try to get them while it’s docked,” said Raheem.

Jaufar Rasheed, Hassan Rasheed’s brother, told local media that he spoke with Hassan today after he called from a Singaporean number.

“He called and said that they had been picked up by a Singapore boat. He could not say how the other was doing. He managed to say that the dhoni sank and the two were castaways on the sea for a long time. He then asked how his wife and child were doing and started crying. Then the call got disconnected,” Jaufar said.

Lost at sea

Earlier this week, a Maldivian national reported missing May 9 after he departed Fares-Maathoda Island in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll via dinghy was discovered by a foreign vessel 900 miles from Maldivian waters.

The MNDF confirmed Mohamed Falah, a 30 year-old man from Fares-Maathoda had been found in “good condition” by the crew of a foreign vessel travelling to Malaysia.

The MNDF recently “downgraded” search and rescue efforts, by halting aerial operations, to locate four individuals missing at sea.

Although three of the four missing men have now been found, the search continues for Mohamed Sammoon, a 21 year-old surfer from Kolamaafushi Island in Gaafu Alif Atoll.

Sammoon was reported missing around 4:30pm on May 4 after being swept away from the island by the current.

“Still we haven’t given up hope, but this person was different because he was not in a vessel,” said Raheem.

“We recovered his surfboard the first day he went missing, so he will not have anything [to stay afloat] like the others,” he noted.

“His chances are less, but you never know. Even after so long, we are still hoping for the best,” he added.

Government authorities continue to advise members of the public to take precautions during sea travel – particularly over long distances – following the “extreme weather” reported across the Maldives this month.

The MNDF Coast Guard can be contacted through the toll free number 191, 339-8898, 339-5981, or via fax 339-1665, with any information regarding Sammoon.


Missing man discovered in dinghy 900 miles from Maldivian waters

A Maldivian national reported missing earlier this month after leaving the island of Fares-Maathoda in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll in a dinghy has been discovered by a foreign vessel 900 miles from Maldivian waters.

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) confirmed that Mohamed Falah, a 30 year-old man from Fares-Maathoda reported missing since May 9, had been found in “good condition” by the crew of a foreign vessel travelling to Malaysia.

The announcement of Falah’s rescue comes as authorities continue to advise members of the public to take precautions during sea travel – particularly over long distances – following “extreme weather” reported across the Maldives this month.

The MNDF has said searches are continuing for three other men thought lost at sea.

MNDF Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem said authorities had initially been informed of Falah’s rescue through his family, before contacting the foreign vessel that discovered him.

He added that the Maldivian national was expected to arrive in Malaysia on the vessel on Saturday (May 25).

Falah’s wife Fathimath Nazeefa told local newspaper Haveeru that she spoken to her husband today, explaining that he was in “good condition” and had been well treated by the crew who rescued him.

Local media reported that Falah went missing after travelling from Fares-Maathoda to a nearby island to collect gravel needed for construction purposes.

“Necessary precautions”

Following concerns about extreme weather patterns, the Maldives Coast Guard last week published an announcement requesting “all travellers to take necessary precautionary measures before setting on their journeys due to the severe weather with heavy rain and thunderstorms… particularly in the northern and southern regions of the Maldives.”

Colonel Raheem said today that the MNDF was continuing to work with the Maldives Department of Meteorology to try and keep the public better aware of weather patterns in order to prevent further cases of vessels drifting and becoming lost in local waters.

“We cannot say that the condition with the weather is now ok, but it is certainly better at times,” he said.

Raheem said that the coastguard therefore continued to stress that anyone attempting sea travel should take precautions before a voyage.

He said that the MNDF Coast Guard therefore encouraged members of the public to contact its toll-free number 191 to get more information on suitable times for their journey.

“We welcome everyone to call the toll-free number and check the weather before they depart. We also encourage them to contact us if they are leaving on a long distance journey and also notify us when they arrive,” Raheem said.

Rescue attempts

The MNDF has said operations were continuing to locate three other men reported lost at sea this month, despite previously halting aerial search and rescue operations.

Speaking Monday (May 20), Colonel Raheem said that search and rescue operations for four men lost at sea – which at the time had included Mohamed Falah – were being downgraded.

He said at the time that although aerial operations have ceased, the reduced search efforts were being continued. An Indian Navy aircraft was previously assisting the MNDF Kurangi Helicopter with aerial search and rescue operations, but had recently departed the Maldives.

The three men still missing include Mohamed Sammoon, a 21 year-old surfer from Kolamaafushi Island in Gaafu Alif Atoll, who was reported missing around 4:30pm on May 4 after entering the ocean with a surfboard and being swept away by the current.

Two fisherman, identified as 39 year-old Hassan Rasheed from Maamigili Island in Alif Dhaalu Atoll and 32 year-old Abdulla Waheed from Maavashu Island in Laamu Atoll were also reported missing the same day along with the fishing vessel “Azum”.

The two crewmen and the 40 foot light-green fishing boat disappeared after departing from Mulak Island in Meemu Atoll en route to Maavah Island in Laamu Atoll, Sun Online reported.

With searches ongoing for the three men, Colonel Raheem said today that the coastguard had not presently received any additional reports of members of the public being lost in Maldives waters.

“There have been small incidents, but these are not major concerns,” he said.

Adverse weather

Hussein Waheed from the Maldives Department of Meteorology said extreme weather experienced over the last month was expected to improve over the next week.

“Right now we are still having rain, though we expect quite fine weather within the next three to four days,” he said.

Waheed added that adverse weather conditions this month been the result of the “early onset” of the traditionally wet South-West monsoon at the same time that a cyclone had formed in the Bay of Bengal area. The cyclone had since moved north-west towards India, the Maldives Department of Meteorology added.


Maldives Green Fund to merge “scattered” climate finance

Transparency Maldives has called for stronger anti-corruption climate finance safeguards, following the government’s declaration it would establish a ‘green fund’ that would merge all climate change, conservation, and sustainable development project trust-funds.

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s cabinet proposed a Maldives “Green Fund” be established, which would merge all the currently established trust funds in accordance with the government’s Biosphere Reserve sustainable development policy.

The purpose for merging the funds would be to enable cost reductions and strengthen operational efficiency for foreign investments for waste management, water management and renewable energy projects.

Shortly following this April 30 announcement, Transparency Maldives called for “stronger anti-corruption safeguards in climate finance” as part of the civil society recommendations presented to the Minister of Environment and Energy Dr Mariyam Shakeela during the “NGO Forum on Environment and Sustainable Development 2013” held May 5.

During the NGO forum, Transparency Maldives Chairperson Mohamed Rasheed Bari called on the government to strengthen governance mechanisms by including stronger standards of transparency, accountability and integrity.

Currently, climate funds are “scattered” because there is no consolidated national governance mechanism with a proper internationally governed governance structure in the Maldives, Transparency Maldives Climate Governance Senior Project Manager Azim Zahir told Minivan News today (May 19).

“In principle establishing a ‘green fund’ to consolidate climate change mitigation and adaptation money is ‘ok’ as long as it adheres to international best practices and good governance standards,” said Zahir.

The Environment Ministry had not responded to inquiries at time of press.

No overarching climate policy

“The government lacks an overarching climate change policy,” a civil society source familiar with the challenges facing climate governance in the Maldives, told Minivan News. “There are no specific goals, which has resulted in project-based, ad hoc and climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives.”

The source explained that conflicting ministerial mandates and unclear rules have created redundancies and left civil servants “confused”.

“The root cause of the problem is administrative – the lack of clear mandates between who is doing what,” the source said. “There are also ministerial rivalries regarding certain projects because clear mandates are lacking.”

“I find it strange the Ministry of Environment does not have a climate change department, considering they are the people in charge of the entire amount of funds,” the source added.

“One person is in charge of massive [amounts] of funds. There is a lack of human resources within the Environment Ministry. Only a couple of people have dominated [climate change projects] since the 1990’s,” claimed the source.

Some people within the ministry working on foreign aid projects write themselves in as project staff as well to in order supplement their “really low” monthly government salaries of MVR 6000 to MVR 8000 (US$ 389 to US$ 519), alleged the source.

“The same people work on each project, they don’t have new people,” the source claimed.

“These senior civil servants say the Environment Ministry lacks capacity and young people with knowledge and technical skills, however they are not providing training and opportunities [to the newer civil servants].

“They have a complete monopoly on knowledge” which is not being properly diffused, the source added.

Politics and bureaucracy

After the Foreign Ministry has signed a bilateral agreement the funds are transferred to the Finance Ministry, which then allocates the money to the applicable ministry or government agency, according to the source.

Most climate projects were handled under the Ministry of Housing and Environment during former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration, the source explained. Additionally, the President’s Office also undertook many climate change initiatives and established the Presidential Advisory Council on Climate Change in 2009.

“The council still exists on paper and while some people within the President’s Office said the council members have been changed [following the controversial transfer of power February 7, 2012], no one has been informed if they have been fired. They have no idea what’s going on,” alleged the source.

Additionally, the National Planning Council (NPC) – chaired by the president and consisting of various ministers and civil society representatives – was formed in February 2009 to coordinate equitable sustainable development nationwide.

Currently the NPC website states: “Due to the change of the Government , the work of the National Planning Council is currently under reform. Therefore all proposals and issues submitted to Department of National Planning/ National Planning Council is on hold for the time being.”

Under President Waheed’s government the Ministry of Housing and Environment was split to form two new entities, the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure as well as Energy and Environment.

Due to the these changes and ongoing government instability “There has been a significant change in the process of how the project [cycle] works,” explained the source.

“For various political reasons – and the delicate nature of politics since February 2012 – climate change funds have not been consolidated,” the source continued. “It takes a lot of work to channel climate funds. Even under Nasheed’s previous administration there were the same problems.”

An additional reason Waheed’s administration “differs” from Nasheed’s is the current government “has not been ‘very keen’ on cooperating with civil society,” alleged the source.

“Previously they behaved really unprofessionally toward certain NGOs, however since the latter half of 2012, the government has started to try and engage NGOs and civil society – maybe to increase the administration’s legitimacy,” the source continued.

“A positive is the Environment Ministry under Waheed’s administration has been very active. They actually try to do things,” the source noted.

“However, the government consults civil society stakeholders after they’ve already decided everything. They invite NGOs to listen to their opinions, but do not seek their input during the project planning phase,” the source added.

“Ultimately, most [climate finance] problems apply to both administrations, under Nasheed and Waheed,” the source added.

Existing trust funds

“There are three umbrellas – the Maldives Environmental Management Project (MEMP), the Climate Change Trust Fund (CCTF), the Sustainable Renewable Energy Project (SREP) – under each there are different components,” Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Environment and Social Safeguards Coordinator Ibrahim Mohamed told Minivan News earlier this month.

“The idea is that these projects be developed in such a way that the entire nation becomes a biosphere reserve, that’s the overall goal,” he added.

The MEMP umbrella is a US$ 13.88 million World Bank loan, approved in 2008 and set to close in 2014.

“The MEMP is a soft loan in the sense the interest is very less, and this project also has several components,” said Mohamed.

“Only one component is solid waste management, focused in Ari Atoll. Other areas include environmental monitoring, training and capacity building, and a bachelor of environmental science was established at the Maldives National University (MNU),” he continued.

“There is also a renewable energy component to install solar roofing of public buildings on Thinadhoo [Island in Huvadhoo Atoll], so at least 25 percent of their energy will come from solar. That component also has awareness and training on energy efficiency and conservation of energy.

The US$ 9.5 million CCTF picks up where MEMP left off, according to Mohamed.

“Under the CCTF umbrella we have three components: clean energy for climate mitigation, wetland conservation and coral reef monitoring, as well as solid waste management,” Mohamed explained.

“The World Bank is managing the donor money from the CCTF. They don’t finance directly to the government, because they want it to be managed by a reliable, transparent, international fiduciary system.

“The CCTF idea is that the project(s) we develop becomes an exemplary example for other small island states,” he added.

The CCTF was established in 2010 after the signing of an MOU between the Maldives government, the World Bank Group and the European Union with the aim of targeting solid waste management, capacity building for environmental management, and technical assistance for monitoring and managing key natural assets.

The US$138 million SREP was established in 2012 to generate 16 megawatts of renewable energy on 50 islands in the next five years.

The SREP scheme was directly related to the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) originally planned to be submitted to the World Bank in February 2012, but was not due to the political upheaval that resulted from Nasheed’s controversial resignation February 7, 2012.

Additionally, the Maldives has received Global Environment Facility (GEF) grants totaling US$14,443,426 – that leveraged US$35,176,820 in co-financing resources – for 10 national projects, four regional projects, and eight small grants. The project areas focus on climate change, biodiversity, international waters, land degradation, persistent organic pollutants, and the ozone layer.

The GEF is an independently operating financial organisation that supports national sustainable development initiatives and addresses global environmental issues by working in partnership with the United Nations, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Asian Development Bank (ADB) as well as civil society organisations and the private sector.

The GEF “unites” 183 countries with these actors and claims to be the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment.

“The EU has suggested that the Maldives’ government look at one atoll with the potential for populations to move and to live and do more projects there – such as waste management, clean energy, protection, preservation, adaptation – all things in one big area, so that these things will be more visible,” said Mohamed.

“If all the components go into one atoll they will become more climate resilient,” he added.


Extreme weather compels emergency relief from Maldives’ government

Maldivian government authorities are providing emergency services and relief funds to island communities battered by three weeks of “extreme weather”.

The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) issued a statement today (May 15) urging island and atoll councils to report any damage caused by the “harsh weather” as soon as possible.

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik met with officials from the Maldives Police Service, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), the NDMC, and other high-ranking government officials yesterday (May 14) to discuss damages sustained and relief counter measures being taken nationwide.

Waheed provided assurances that government authorities will collaborate with island communities to provide “all the assistance and support needed”. Thus, it was decided state funds will be provided to assist “those islands with maximum damage” through the Ministry of Finance and Treasury’s contingency budget.

State funds will not be released directly to NDMC, instead the Finance Ministry will maintain control of money allocated for relief efforts and “coordinate bills” with the centre, NDMC Project Director Hisan Hassan told Minivan News today.

The exact amount of emergency relief funds will be determined today, Hassan added.

Meanwhile, the MNDF and police have issued precautionary warnings to the public due to the severe weather conditions.

The Coast Guard issued a request yesterday that “all travelers to take necessary precautionary measures before setting on their journeys due to the severe weather with heavy rain and thunderstorms… particularly in the northern and southern regions of the Maldives.”

They recommended travelers test communications sets and obtain updated weather forecasts before embarking on any journeys.

The Coast Guard further stated that average wind speeds of 15-25 miles per hour (mph) in the southern atolls and 7-17 mph are expected in the northern atolls, while wind gusts during thunderstorms will reach 40-50 mph.

Additionally, the police issued an SMS bulletin today also warning the public to “take precautionary measures due to the bad weather”.

A “white bulletin” was also issued by the Maldives Meteorological Service (MET) today, warning that the central atolls can expect average winds speeds of 23-30 mph.

Food shortages and flooding

Thus far damage assessment reports have been submitted by 12 islands from seven atolls – Shaviyani, Meemu, Dhaalu, Thaa, Laamu, Fuvahmulah, and Addu City – representing regions from the far north to the far south of the Maldives, the NDMC told Minivan News today.

Hassan explained that other islands have reported storm-related damage directly to the media or have spoken with the NDMC, but have yet to official report these issues to the centre.

Flooding due to three weeks of severe weather and heavy rain has damaged households, sewerage systems, as well as caused extensive agricultural destruction, according to Hassan.

Food shortages on some islands have resulted from agricultural damage and the disruption of transportation and supply networks due to bad weather.

“All islands import food from Male’, however the seas have been so rough [supply] boats are still in Male’ and unable to reach the islands,” Hassan explained. “Yesterday the State Trading Organisation (STO) announced the they will try to send [food supplies] somehow.”

STO is not providing free food-stuffs to islands, rather they are seeking ways to reach the islands so community shops can restock. Normally, supply boats travel between the atolls at least twice a week, according to Hassan.

“Some small islands’ [residents] are a little afraid to travel to a nearby island [to resupply] because travel is difficult,” he said.

Hassan emphasised that food shortages have not reached “emergency situation” levels.

“For the time being there is no emergency. If an island completely runs out of food, the MNDF is always on board [collaborating] with STO and NDMC, and will send vessels,” said Hassan.

The MNDF and police will deploy and provide first response emergency services, if necessary, he added.

“The MNDF is also assisting with flood relief. They take fire fighting equipment to islands and help pump water,” said Hassan.

“Houses are flooding because they are not built on high platforms, so with one or one and a half feet of flooding, water will rush into homes,” he added.

Hassan emphasised the need for people to “take responsibility” and precautionary measures to ensure their safety in the bad weather conditions.

“They should not wait until flood waters reach knee-high levels and require the MNDF to provide assistance,” Hassan said.

“People should move [their] belongings to higher ground, get rid of old trees and branches, clean their roofs, and collect rainwater in tanks. Also, sandbags should be used to minimise further flooding,” he added.

Ensuring roofs and houses are secure is also essential given the strong winds that have accompanied the recent severe storms.

The NDMC is coordinating with the relevant ministry’s to ensure damages are evaluated and addressed promptly.


Vice President calls for “population consolidation”

Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen has lambasted the country’s current presidential candidates for resorting to a “divide and rule policy” to stay in power, rather than focusing on issues such as “population consolidation” which he claimed would help sustainable development.

Speaking on May 13 during the launch of the UN’s 2013 human development report, Deen argued that it was extremely difficult for presidential candidates to discuss relocating and consolidating island populations due to fears “islanders will be angry”.

However, the vice president said he believed there were ulterior motives to avoid addressing population consolidation – the practice of relocating geographically isolated, small island communities to larger landmasses.

“The other reason – which is worse – is the divide and rule policy that has been in the Maldives for hundreds of years. I hope those who are going to be on the list of presidential candidates, and politicians, will seriously think about the development of this nation and not be thinking ‘how long can I stay in power?’,” he told Minivan News.

“The whole idea of population consolidation is for the government, or the leaders whoever they are, not to control Maldivian citizens, so if they want to be free and independent they should do it.”

Vice President Deen highlighted a number of development issues and interrelated democratisation challenges he believed were vital to development, during his speech at Sunday’s UN report launch.

These issues included included the need for improving freedom of expression and democratic education to reduce inequalities. Deen emphasised “population consolidation” as an important way of ensuring this.

“It is easier to control votes if you are on small, small little islands, but it’s difficult when the population is consolidated,” stated Deen. “I strongly believe that the Maldives must have a population consolidation method.”

“Unless populations are consolidated, economically viable solutions – healthcare, education and other services and facilities – required for development cannot be sustained,” he added.

Deen claimed there were also numerous economic and social service benefits that would come from relocating people living on small islands, whom he said faced “lots of difficulties” due to limited healthcare and educational opportunities. Restricted transportation options were another concern he identified.

“Population consolidation would also reduce income and gender inequality. They would find it easier to find jobs and things like that,” he said. “I strongly believe that’s the key to a successful Maldives.”

Voter buy-offs, other corrupt practices, political polarisation and a lack of civil education were identified by Transparency Maldives, the Elections Commission of the Maldives (ECM), and the Elections Commission of India (ECI) as threatening free and fair democratic elections from taking place in September.

Additionally, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) released a joint human rights brief this April accusing the Maldivian government of failing to create conditions conducive to free and fair elections.

Relocation gone wrong

Population consolidation is a controversial issue for many islanders, given the unique cultural characteristics and strong inter-relationships each island community in the Maldives possesses.

The displacement and subsequent relocation of the entire Kan’dholhudhoo Island community in Raa Atoll following the 2004 tsunami is one example of the development challenges posed by relocating entire island communities.

“The community is still suffering tremendously,” Island Council Vice President Amir Ahmed told Minivan News.

“Kan’dholhudhoo is our motherland, however, the whole island was fully damaged [in the tsunami]. Four years after our community was split and living on different islands in Raa Atoll – Alifushi, Ungoofaru, Meedhoo, Maduvvari – or in Male’,” Ahmed explained.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) – in partnership with other nation-state donors – provided temporary shelter and food for the internally displaced in the aftermath of the tsunami, Ahmed continued.

In 2008, the bulk of Kan’dholhudhoo’s nearly 4,000 community members were eventually relocated to Dhuvaafaru Island. However, administratively the community remains under Kan’dholhudhoo, which poses a problem for voting, explained Ahmed.

The IFRC transformed the previously uninhabited island with the construction of 600 new houses, office buildings, a health centre, playgrounds, roads, and a garbage area, Ahmed added.

Unfortunately the government’s lack of community consultations, inadequate infrastructure development, and political opposition leading to local “administrative problems” has greatly degraded quality of life for the Kan’dholhudhoo community, lamented Ahmed.

He explained that the combination of too few island-level civil servants – the government mandates one per every 500 people, but only four represent Kan’dholhudhoo – and the stanch allegiance of island office employees to former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom created huge development-related problems and a lack of basic services.

“Maumoon’s people were working in the island office and they still supported him,” said Ahmed. He claims that the island office staff requested too few homes from the IFRC after the tsunami.

“They don’t know how the people suffer,” said Ahmed. “This is no ‘safe island’, there are many problems.”

“Day by day things get worse”

Currently 75 families still need homes, according to Ahmed. He explained the homes which have been constructed were meant to house a single six person family in a 2000 square foot area with three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

“Instead, three or four families are living in one house. Many people are not coming back because they have no place to live, or because the living conditions are so uncomfortable,” Ahmed said.

“The constitution should provide one area of land per family, but this has not happened for our community,” he added.

Overcrowding due to the lack of adequate housing has caused a variety of societal problems, including property disputes, rising divorce rates, and children “don’t learn the responsibilities of how to live… additionally they see what’s happening to the community. Disputes are increasing,” said Ahmed.

Many of the homes were constructed near a “pond area” on the island, explained Ahmed.

“The land is not good for people to live on because the well water is bad. It has a bad smell and causes skin problems, especially for children and old people,” he explained. “Maumoon decided where to build the houses, we were not consulted.”

Although a pipeline has since been built to supply safe drinking water to the 40 families living in the area, given the overcrowding problem the water supplied is not sufficient. Thus, “a lot” of well water continues to be used.

Ahmed further explained that there is a waste management shortfall also posing a serious threat to community’s health.

“The garbage [problem] is terrible here. A garbage area was made but we cannot use it because there is not enough budget. So islanders have been dumping waste in the beach area, which is now full, so garbage is all over the road blocking vehicles from driving,” Ahmed said.

“There are also diseases spreading, such as viral fever, as well as mosquitoes and flies. And there are people living nearby this [garbage] area,” he added.

Despite these human health threats, Dhuvaafaru still lacks medicine and adequate medical facilities.

“There is no pharmacy or medicine [available]. We tried to establish one, but it is still not open,” said Ahmed.

“We have a health centre but it is without medicine. It lacks basic necessities and cannot even perform blood tests or give injections. We have to go to Ungoofaru [for medical treatment] which is 10 or 15 minutes away by speedboat,” he added.

Education and economic opportunities are also very limited, according to Ahmed.

“I am reluctant to say this, but the community is not very aware. Educated community [members] are very rare and if anyone is educated they will move to some other island because they want their children to have a quality education and standard of living,” Ahmed said.

“The community’s living standard is very dependent on the fishing industry. There are no administrative jobs, so fishing is the only way to make a living,” he continued.

“Day by day things get worse and worse,” he lamented.

“Government doesn’t listen”

Successive government administrations have failed to address the development problems and threats to the Dhuvaafaru community.

“Maumoon provided us no choices. We informed the government [of these issues], but nothing changed,” said Ahmed.

Although former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration provided the community with sandbags to thwart coastal erosion, “now the erosion has spread to another side” of the island and the ongoing development problems went unresolved, he continued.

The island office was controlled by the former opposition who did not cooperate with Nasheed’s administration to improve quality of life for the Dhuvaafaru community, claims Ahmed.

“We informed the coup government, but they don’t listen. [President Mohamed] Waheed makes many promises, but has taken no action,” he added.

Regarding whether island relocation and “population consolidation” are beneficial for island communities, Ahmed believes that if the government will actually provide the proper infrastructure for communities then the policy would be beneficial.

“I think most people would follow that, especially the younger generation. If there are good facilities I’ll go there for sure,” Ahmed declared.

“I’m happy now because everything is new [on Dhuvaafaru], but when I enter the house I want to leave immediately [due to the overcrowding],” he added.

In March 2012, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) sent a corruption case involving MVR 24 million (US$1.55 million) to the Prosecutor General’s Office concerning the Disaster Management Centre and a housing project carried out on Gan in Laamu Atoll, following damage suffered in the 2004 tsunami.

The Maldivian government is obligated under national and international law to guarantee the human rights and protections enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), which include access to adequate housing, water, healthcare, and political participation.


Inequality and climate change threaten Maldives’ human development improvements

The UN’s 2013 global human development report has highlighted inequality and climate change vulnerabilities as major concerns for the Maldives, despite the country’s “significant economic growth” in recent years.

“Although the Maldives’ performance in human development in the South Asian region is quite commendable, the country continues to face a number of risks and vulnerabilities,” said UN Resident Coordinator Tony Lisle during the report’s launch on Sunday (May 12).

The 2013 UN human development report is entitled: “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”.

The findings have positioned the Maldives in the medium human development category, where it was ranked 104 out of 186 countries and territories.  The ranking is based on the human development index – a composite measurement of life expectancy, education, and income.

According to Lisle, the country’s human development index value increased 30 percent between 1995 and 2012, an average annual increase of about 1.6 percent.

The Maldives graduated to the status of a middle income country in Jan 2011.

However, when inequalities are factored into the Maldives’ human development index ranking, the country’s “value falls to 25.2 percent indicating that addressing inequalities continues to warrant significant national attention in the years ahead,” he added.

“Risks and vulnerabilities faced by the Maldives include effects due to climate change and of course the financial global crisis, which is still with us,” said Lisle.

“The nation has also been maturing in its democratic processes, including the creation of independent bodies, the establishment of a multi-party political system, and rolling out of decentralised governance.”

The 2013’s human development report focused on issues such as increasing access to schools, improving access and quality of health services, promoting inclusive growth and putting an emphasis on improving conditions for women globally.

“These are also qualities espoused by the government of Maldives, which deserve our vigorous support,” said Lisle.

To ensure this support, he explained that the Maldivian government was currently collaborating with the UNDP and UN country team to formulate the second national human development report for the Maldives, which will focus on inequality and vulnerability.

“We must go beyond GDP to measure development. The UNDP defines development as a process of enlarging people’s choices to realise their potential and enjoy the freedom to lead lives they value. Some will do better than others with the choices they have, but the challenge is to ensure everyone has a fair and equal chance, equal opportunity to improve quality of life,” said Lisle.

Meanwhile, Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen, also speaking at the launch, criticised government policy failures for failing to correct numerous development challenges in the Maldives.

Deen therefore emphasised the need to learn from the UN’s latest human development report to address the sustainable development challenges posed by geographically isolated, small island populations.

Women and children suffer

Although Deen proposed “population consolidation” – relocating small island communities to larger landmasses – as a means to improve democratic practices, he also emphasised the benefits of sustainable development.

He also highlighted the need to listen to communities and young people, while providing them opportunities to express themselves in “forums and different platforms” to utilise their ideas for development and to prevent “wilder activities” from occurring.

“The best method is to let a person express himself or herself and not to hide the real problems of the country, domestic violence, child abuse, and many other issues related to gender. Unless we accept that we have these problems, we cannot bring changes,” Deen said.

“Quite unfortunately we pretended we did not have these problems. We pretended these things never existed in our society. ‘What a wonderful clean society we have’, but the truth is we have these problems and people suffered, children suffered, women suffered,” he lamented.

Deen explained that “sadly” many presidents and politicians have not directly addressed problems within island communities or Maldivian society generally to bring about change. As a result, the recent democratisation process, including the related constitutional changes, have led to protests protests regarding development and human rights issues.

“The only way for our country to progress is to listen to the people. We have learned that the voice of the people must be heard,” Deen stated.

The vice president also discussed the “very important need” to educate the populace about democracy. He stated that it was “almost impossible” to run a democratic nation with “changing constitutions and presidents”.

“The mindset the people must understand what democracy is and how we can sustain it. Unless we do that we won’t be able to sustain a democratic system,” said Deen. “Educating the people is extremely important, more than building harbours.”

Vice President Deen added that economic inequalities have been perpetuated by the lack of planning, job creation for youth, and and a proper tax system.

“We didn’t plan ahead. what has happened to us today, our situation, is not something that has happened overnight. It took time, many years,” he said.

He emphasised the need to establish a “proper tax system” to reduce economic inequalities and bridge the disparity between the wealthy and less fortunate.

“The huge level of discrepancy can create social unrest, misunderstandings, hatred, anger, and frustration and these are bad for any nation,” noted Deen.

“I’m not a believer of expecting donations and support all the time. These funds must be utilized in a context as a catalyst for sustainable development,” he added.

“Please understand the Maldives will never never go back, we will go forward,” Deen declared.

“I hope the presidential candidates seriously consider these [human development] reports when they are deciding their manifestos and bringing changes to our beautiful country,” he added.

UN human development recommendations

Giving her own summary on the 2013 human development report, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Azusa Kubota said there were four key areas needing to be addressed by governments to facilitate sustainable human development.  She said these factors included enhancing equity; enabling voice and participation, managing demographic change and confronting environmental challenges.

“We all know environmental threats such as climate change, air and water pollution, natural disasters, deforestation affect everyone globally, but they hurt poor countries the most,” Kubota added.

Sustaining human development gains is difficult in the face of “natural disasters which are increasing in frequency and intensity that cause enormous economic damage and loss of human capacities,” she said.

“International governance structures can be held to account, not only by member states but governance by global civil society which is on the rise.”

At the national level, Kuota explained that human development required support by a “developmental state” with an activist government and a political elite that sees record economic growth as their primary aim.  She added that job creation and investing in people’s capacities to sustain the gains of economic growth via health, education and other public services were also key elements. Additionally, governments need to actively nurture sectors that would not otherwise emerge to do global competitions and incomplete markets.

Kubota further emphasised that to sustain human development “substantial public investment, in [social services] not just infrastructure, as well as bold proactive, targeted social policies are required. It is not just economic growth alone.

“Human development doesn’t come without targeted policy interventions and carefully crafted national visions,” said Kubota.

The developed north and developing south are connected “more than ever”.

“The challenges faced by the multilateral system in response to the rise of the south [do not pose] a false choice between globalism, regionalism, and sovereignty. We all have to work together. Human development is not a zero sum game, we all benefit equally,” Kubota concluded.