UNDP to fund US$3.3 million project to help tourism sector adapt to climate change

The Ministry of Tourism and UNDP have signed a US$3.3 million project to help the Maldives tourism sector adapt to climate change.

UN Resident Representative Andrew Cox said that as tourism represented 30 percent of the economy and 60 percent of the country’s foreign exchange receipts, “the future of the Maldives is wrapped up in the tourism sector.”

“Right now there is a great deal of variety in how resorts handle the environment and climate change issues,” Cox said. “Some have this as their focus, the basis of their product, while others, it’s fair to say, do not.”

The project, he explained, would seek to help the Ministry of Tourism develop its own regulation, in partnership with the industry.

As well as developing building and planning codes for new resorts, the project included scope for developing environmentally-sound physical infrastructure, energy efficient buildings and practices, climate resilient fresh water management, flood-proofing, waste water management, protection of coastal ridges, reefs and vegetative belts, and diversification of energy sources.

“We are also looking at assessing market-based risk financing,” Cox said. “The Maldives is very vulnerable to natural hazards and disasters, but there are insurance products that can reduce that risk.”

The project will establish “at least 10” community-based adaption projects between tourism-associated communities and operators.

“We often hear of tensions between resorts and communities,” Cox noted, during the signing ceremony today. “This [project] will focus on common responsibility, the management of common resources. What is good for a resort can be good for the island next to it. Rather than have a charity relationship between resorts and local islands, we want to try to build stronger partnerships.”

Asked why the tourism sector required UN involvement if the funding of such adaptation was in the long-term financial interest of the industry, Cox noted that “what we have seen in other countries is that something that seems obvious doesn’t always happen. But this is not something that will be done without the partnership of the industry, and it will depend on investment from the private sector.

“One particular area is decarbonisation – hundreds of millions of dollars will have to be spent on energy, and the cost equation of carbon based fuels is going to become more and more negative so resorts will have to go in the direction [of renewables] anyway.”

He noted a huge demand for such a group response to the challenges, with resort managers expressing frustration at problems relating to issues such as waste management and recycling, and the lack of appropriate infrastructure and regulation at the state level: “Is it really worth continuing to shipping waste to Thilafushi without any recycling or economic benefit?” he asked.

Environmental achievements already reached, such as the recent designation of Baa Atoll as a UNESCO biosphere, “are not just for propaganda value. It will have a marketable effect on the ability to sell tourism in Baa Atoll.”

Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa noted that the Maldives already had many resorts that had taken the lead in incorporating environmentally-sustainable measures into their design, operation and management.

“We have resorts in the Maldives that are held up as among the best examples in the world,” Zulfa noted.

“The Maldives has risen to the top among the world’s most exclusive destinations due in no small part to the competitive position derived from its unique natural island environment and surrounding underwater beauty. Climate change threatens to destroy this beautiful environment and along with it, the livelihoods of many Maldivians.

“This project aims to address ways in which the Maldives and especially its tourism industry can minimize its vulnerability to climate change,” she said.

“This project will contribute to the government’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2020, and will support the integration of adjustment measures which need to be implemented in response to climatic changes into development policies, plans, programs, projects and actions.”

Following consultations throughout the rest of this year, the first wave of projects is expected to begin in early 2012.


10 thoughts on “UNDP to fund US$3.3 million project to help tourism sector adapt to climate change”

  1. If hundreads of million dollars are going to be needed for effective change, how is 3.3 M going to be anything more than advertising money / money for model islands that other could follow should they so chose. And how likely are they going to be to chose that when they have well functioning business models as it is.

    What, short of a natrual disaster, will force industry giants to change methods that are currently profitable.

  2. A lot of money for the pocket, nothn productive will be seen....last minute they will call it off

  3. has this guy been smoking pot? tourism 30% of the economy? he's clearly smacked out of his head - think if he bothered to check his figures he's find it over double! crack head

  4. UNDP should be giving this money to improve our health sector, sanitation service, housing and education sector rather than tourism sector. I think our tourism sector is already well established and hence this money should be given to other more diserving areas.

  5. Mr Cox and Hon. Zulfa are two new figures to the Maldives with so much little information about actual status of environment related issues in MALDIVES.
    Aid for assistance is acceptable in good faith anywehere in the world. The significance of funding climate and related issues is a fantastic idea and I salute UNDP for initiating this move. However, I disagree on the direction UNDP has adopted.

    Climate change is a global issue that has affected the entire world.Industrialization, population explosion, burning of fuels, etc has directly and indirectly played a part in global warming, sea level rise, famine, drought, etc. Evidently, America has been ravaged with cyclones and tornedos, Europe with severe winters, Asia a victim of earth quakes and floods, and for African children, death is invatible due to drought that caused famine. That is climate change.

    The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally on Earth or some region thereof (Wikipedia encyclopedia). How well is environment managed on a Maldivian resort today? Hon. Zilfa and Mr. Cox definitely will not have a clue. If you have visited any resort I am certain you saw the best side of it, had the best service not even president Nasheed would receive.

    Resorts produce the most waste in Maldives, and subsequently are the biggest polluters with a 'dont care' attitude towards the environment. Healthy vegetations and beautiful sandy beaches should not mislead you. Till to date, we dont know what happens to the tonnes of plastic, glass, used batteries, filters, metal, you name it! I may exempt resorts in Male atoll who have the ability of dumping garbage to Thilafushi. We all know 70% of the resorts dump 80% of their gargabe into the sea especially as incineration of certain products is illegal.

    Dead house reefs is common in most resort, and experts always claim 'climate change' as the cause. Bullocks!!! sorry maybe, but have you asked yourself how much chemical pesticides and fertilizers find way into the sea, directly or indirectly? Each resort will fog, mist, spray chemicals in the name of Integrated Pest Management, yet they and most of their service providers hardly have a clue of the mess they are creating (environmentally) Take a walk to any shop that sells pesticide in Male and read the label of any item thats used for mosquito, roach or flies. It clears says TOXIC to marine life and birds. WHY? we have no rules on pesticides nor does MNDF which approves, know anything.

    ..there are many other environment related drawbacks in these resorts except a few like Soneva group, Banyan Tree group who really care about the environment and continue to help communities.

    A tsunami may hit us tomorrow, or even a twister. Who knows when or where such would happen. Polars bears are disappearing, and so are many living species in different parts of the world. All because of climate change.

    BUT, we can manage the environment if we have proper rules in place and everyone plays by the book. Our seas will continue being polluted, crop yields would remain low and gradually we would loose most living things that are part of the ecosystem.

    'Paradise Maldives' does not have any waste management procedures or rules, it does not know where its 30K plastic bottle consumption per day goes, where 10 million cans of beer and aerated drinks every six months end up or where over 1000 styrafoam boxes imported daily with fresh veg or meat (very toxic if burnt) end up! What resorts really know and legally abides with rules is that all the shit on the island goes into the sea! If they dont care paying rent or tax, why should they bother about environment?

    Meetings and meetings in atolls between UN, Tourism ministry and local communities have been going on and on but nothing, NOTHING concrete has come up. Local farmers will never be able to sell their produce simply because its coated with pesticides, no storage or cold systems in place today and agriculture ministry is just a name to suit a few. A ministry that failed years ago(lets hope didi may change)

    I attended the meeting in Gaaf and I was disappointed when nothing was discussed or ideas initiated on waste management. One immediate initiation by a foreign resort was to dumping garbage on a local island (in Gaaf Alif) without any waste management equipments or expertise and pay the community Rf 2000/- per dhoni. This is similar to puting a thorn in their ass! Zulfa, do Maldivian local islands deserve this insult when these islands like Meradhoo, Hyatt charge over US$ 500-2000 a night? at the expense of their garbage which will pollute and affect the environment forever!!!!

    If you dont know, please ask, look around and you would get collective ideas and maybe you can make good use of the money that we desperately need. It should be (by law) the responsibility of the resort to manage its environment in best ecological means, have professional account of how they manage their waste, pests and the likes. As a colleague commented earlier, I also agree that such funding should go to health, education, and youth related awareness programs where it is needed most.

    Someone just died at IGMH because he could not get a dialysis treatment, kids dying in islands due to dengue, women have to travel hours for deliveries, and here you talk about funding resorts!!!!!!!!!

    Zulfa, what are you doing, just travelling round the world as we ordinary people suffer at the mercy of resorts!!. I am very mad with this climate..story, and tell Mr. Cox to do his homework on statistics, defintely he didnt smoke pot as someone wrote, just misinformed as much as you are!

  6. The UN is notorious to give the same failed advice to all developing countries. The resident managers work with locall corrupt politicians to devise programs which has no benefit to the host country but instead prepare some useless policy papers, handsomely paying off their contacts in out if the country. Most of the time it is a duplicate policy paper from either the carribean or from western pacific island nations. All we get is this self satisfaction that UN is helping us and big headlines. There is very little we could do because this is how this program is designed to benefit few individuals mostly UN staff their families or contacts and some former politicians who are willing to say anything to earn some money as 'advisors'.

  7. Ismail Habeeb and 'Real' have clearly pointed out the issues.

    Cox please wake up or is it that you get free service to the resorts with this projects

    You will have the old staff now entering into the new assignments as specialsts......one day education specialist.......another day GIS specialist .........then disaster specialist and then environmental specialist..............

    COX ENJOY !!!!!!!!!

  8. this is wea the leach worm starts poking its head to suck on its preys blood supply! now i present you the great sucker UNDP


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