The European Commission has pledged €6.5 million (US$9.36 million) to help the Maldives adapt to the effects of climate change and mitigate the impact, and provide technical support.
The new Climate Change Trust Fund will be administered by the World Bank in a deal cemented between President Mohamed Nasheed and World Bank President Robert Zoellick at Copenhagen.
“The European Commission has given the money to the World Bank and asked them to manage it,” noted Minister for the Environment, Mohamed Aslam. “I believe the contract is already signed and the World Bank office in Sri Lanka informed me they were receiving it by courier today.”
The money was not part of the US$30 billion pledged at Copenhagen by developed nations to help developing countries adjust to climate change, Aslam emphasised, and was the fruition of an ongoing program “long before the [Copenhagen] accord.”
“We just happen to be the first country receiving this money,” he said.
While the money was not enough to begin tackling the problems facing the capital, he said, it would make a difference to coastal protection and “soft engineering” projects to help smaller islands suffering severe beach erosion.
“We will also invest it in developing sewerage and water systems on islands,” he said, adding the government had yet to decide which islands to help.
Food security was another priority for the money, Aslam said, and an issue that affected the entire country regardless of geographic location.
“It’s more about trying to find a climate-sound method of agriculture for the country,” he said.
A delegation from the World Bank will arrive in the Maldives in January to meet with the government and discuss how the money should be spent.
“Adapting to climate change will cost a lot more than €6.5 million,” Aslam noted, estimating the figure was more in the realm of US$4.6 billion.