“This month a team of scientists reported that melting ice caps and glaciers due to climate change are causing oceans to rise more drastically than previously calculated,” writes foreign minister Dunya Maumoon for the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
“The news is particularly troubling for my country, the Maldives — the world’s lowest lying island chain — and for other coastal and island nations that sit just metres above sea level.
In fact, saltwater has already begun to contaminate our groundwater supplies, while erosion is wearing away our shores.
And even as the water rises around us, the cruel irony of climate change was driven home last month when a fire shut down our capital island’s only desalination plant, leaving its 100,000 inhabitants in a precarious situation.
Within hours, some of our closest neighbours and partners, including India, Sri Lanka and China, had mobilised shipments of water to get us through until the plant was repaired. Our own private sector, non-governmental organisations, and other civil society groups pitched in, working with the government, and proving that everyone in the society has a role to play in addressing crises.
Tackling climate change over the long term will obviously demand concerted action at a much more substantial scale over decades.
But we should not surrender to the notion that it will be impossible. Recent studies have confirmed that existing technologies, such as energy efficiency, renewable power, and smart policies can rapidly reduce emissions, while bringing important co-benefits, such as improved public health and energy and water security.”