President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has informed the first plenary session at the Rio +20 summit of the Maldives’ plans to become the world’s largest marine reserve.
“I would like to announce today that Maldives will become the first country to be a marine reserve. We can do it in a short time. I hope we can do it in 5 years. It will become the single largest marine reserve in the world,” said Waheed.
Addressing Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Waheed reasserted the Maldives’ insistence that the international community redouble its efforts towards sustainable development.
“I’m from one of the smallest countries on this planet. I’m here because the survival and development of our children are inextricably linked to what happens in your countries.”
“A small island state like the Maldives cannot, on its own, secure the future we want. We rely on our international partners to ensure that their development paths are sustainable and don’t negatively impact on vulnerable countries like the Maldives”.
“The Maldives’ international advocacy on matters of environmental sustainability, especially relating to climate change, is well-known. We have stood resolutely in forums and conferences around the world and asserted our right to survival. I am here today to reassert that right.”
“Today, out of the 194 inhabited islands in the Maldives, 113 suffer serious beach erosion and over 90 islands require fresh water. The total cost of addressing coastal erosion, fresh water and sewerage will cost more than 500 million dollars,” Waheed told the audience.
Waheed continued to say that the Maldives economy, based on tourism and fishing, is a sustainable one. He argued that less sustainable practices are destroying the livelihoods of many Maldivians
He went on to describe the social and political difficulties the country currently faces.
“The Maldives is undergoing the most dramatic and difficult challenges in the country’s history. The country is in a critical phase of a demographic transition. We are struggling to cope with the rapid growth of the adolescent and youth population in recent years. Significant and growing numbers of youth have fallen prey to the scourges of substance abuse and crime.”
“The Government has set in policies and strategies to reverse this trend and create a more economically and socially productive youth population in the country. Yet, the challenges are daunting requiring innovative solutions. We seek to forge new partnerships to overcome such challenges.”
“Maldives is also in a difficult transition to democracy. Our newly acquired freedoms have enabled us to participate in the country’s political life with passion. That passion, while encouraging, has also led to an extreme polarization of our close-knit society. Yet, I will assure you of our commitment to cultivate democratic values and to strengthen the institutions of democracy. In this endeavour, we continue to work with our international partners,” Waheed continued.