Waking up to ‘Greenwashing’ in the Maldives: Huffington Post

“Earlier on this month I found myself in the Maldives for hotel reviews and was outraged by the gap between President Nasheed’s ‘carbon neutral promise within a decade’ and the reality that I was faced with,” writes Rooksana Hossenally for the Huffington Post.

“Following the Maldivian government’s ministers’ highly-mediatized underwater conference in October 2009, a conference with the aim of highlighting the pressing environmental issues with regards to the sinking archipelago, I must say that when my editor announced that I would be jetted off to some of the most dazzling islands in the world, I was keen on getting a sample of this forward thinking.

Upon return however, the Maldives, as beautiful as the islands are, left a sour taste in my mouth as far as the environment is concerned. My visit only confirmed that the president’s environmental avant garde-ism is a nothing more than a marketing ploy to get himself in his people’s good books.

My trip lasted three weeks and my skepticism about President Nasheed’s wonderful ideals was far from overruled by what I saw. Going carbon-free is not only impossible for the Maldives, but it would severely penalize the country’s main industry: tourism, which would, needless to say, cause the Maldives to slip into dangerous financial waters, in addition to the already rising sea levels around the islands.

A little harsh of me, you might be thinking — let me explain. Going carbon neutral in the Maldives would require offsetting to a monumental degree. First, the only way of getting around the archipelago’s 26 atolls of 1,192 islands is by boat or plane. The President’s objectives are without doubt perfectly admirable, but how does he imagine the tourism industry functioning without transport?”

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Further coverage of the article and wider reflection on the challenges facing sustainable tourist developments can be read on Minivan News’ spin-off travel review site, Dhonisaurus.com.