Presidential candidates’ policy pledges threaten the environment: Environment Ministry

The Environment Ministry has ‘called out’ presidential candidates for making election pledges that threaten the environment, amidst civil society calls for government authorities to support NGOs’ sustainable development initiatives.

Environment Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela noted that no policy on environmental protection has been articulated by candidates despite their numerous election pledges during her speech at the “NGO Forum on Environment and Sustainable Development 2013” held by the Environment Ministry and NGO Federation yesterday (May 5).

“Although all political parties are currently talking about their plans to govern the country for the next five years, none of their manifestos include policies on protecting the environment,” local media reported Shakeela saying.

“When you deeply consider these policies, I certainly haven’t heard of any plans to protect the environment. But on the other hand, we keep hearing of plans that can seriously threaten the environment of the Maldives,” she added.

Shakeela stated that despite the economic benefits which could be gained from finding oil or establishing a mariculture industry, these policies could pose grave threats to the environment, according to local media.

“Sometimes, although these plans gain a short-term gain, or some amount of money, they may cause great damages in the long run. It is very important that we give this due consideration,” said Shakeela.

Shakeela emphasised that civil society must hold the Maldivian government and policy-makers accountable when they “veer off course” and endanger the environment.

“Regardless of who prepares it, if the plans are such that they may harm the environment, it is the role of the civil society organizations to be vigilant over such matters and try to stop them,” declared Shakeela.

She also stressed that civil society organisations must identify the environmental threats posed by such policies on the behalf of Maldivian people.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has pledged to develop a mariculture industry in the country should former President Mohamed Nasheed be reelected in September 2013.

The potential for developing a domestic oil industry was launched as a campaign issue during a January 14 speech by Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) presidential prospect, MP Abdulla Yameen.

Leader of the government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP), business tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim, has also vowed to find oil in the Maldives should he be elected president.

NGOs issue government recommendations

The NGO forum was held to facilitate environmental protection discussions between civil society organisations, as well as implementation of sustainable development methodologies and policies.

“This is the only forum of this kind. Civil society did not previously get the opportunity to come together and discuss these issues,” NGO Federation President Ahmed Nizam told Minivan News yesterday (May 6).

Many NGOs work on environmental issues at the island and national level – particularly conducting advocacy and awareness programs – however they do not conduct adequate work on environment and sustainable development, according to forum participants.

Participants highlighted ongoing issues that narrow the opportunities available for Maldivian NGOs, which include legal challenges as well as government administrative procedures. NGOs also lack access to resources, such as well educated people and finance.

Given these limitations, the 15 participating civil society organisations presented a list of recommendations to the government, in line with the forum’s theme of enhancing NGO engagement in environmental governance and management.

The forum recommended the government provide NGOs with equal opportunities and “reveal their stand” to the organisations.

Participants also recommended the Environment Ministry establish a separate focal point to engage with NGOs and provide a common room for civil society organisations within the “green building” currently under construction for the ministry. Research grants for NGOs and environmental studies students should also be provided.

Organisations further recommended the government include NGO representatives in all delegations from the Maldives attending environmental and sustainable development meetings. These organisations also requested the government provide Maldivian NGOs opportunities to participate in environmental and sustainable development projects.

“Minister Shakeela’s response to the recommendations was very positive. She pledged to do everything possible to implement the recommendations,” said Nizam.

“However, she also said certain things might not be possible to implement immediately due to budget and planning constraints,” he added.

Nizam explained that the NGO Federation plans to take the discussion forum to a “different level” by ensuring dialogue and collaboration on environmental protection and sustainable protection continues.

He emphasised that the NGO Federation aims to hold conferences annually or biannually and will continuously seek improvement and additional NGO participation.

The Maldivian NGO Federation held a follow-up workshop today on NGO capacity building for advocating environmentally sustainable development, a project funded by UNDP’s Global Environment Facility, Small Grants Programme.


5 thoughts on “Presidential candidates’ policy pledges threaten the environment: Environment Ministry”

  1. This is interesting, considering the previous two Maldivians Presidents sold themselves to the world through this environmental/ global warming issue.

    I have met Minister Shakeela, she used to spend time in or reside in Perth. I have known her to be a genuinely hospitable and extra-ordinarily compassionate human being, and I am greatful she has brought this point up.

  2. To date MDP has not brought out its full manifesto. MDP is introducing key policies through the mini manifesto release sessions. Its a bit too early for anyone to start emphasising that parties do not have a environment policy. The maricuture policy of MDP refers to a sustainable industry and that includes environmental sustainability. The mariculture policy directly addresses environmental issues through quarantine facilities as well.

    NGOs should be vigilant in such issues and i hope they do so. However is it in true NGO spirit that they provide a platform for the governing political party to attack the policies of opposition at the time of elections.

    Please read more on mariculture policy at

  3. Would like to ask Shakeela, HOW the MDP manifesto on environment policies WILL affect the enviroment? Please give us facts, statistics and proof that it will be damaging to the enviroment instead of just speculating that it MIGHT affect the enviroment. When the Ministry of Fisheries first launched mechanized dhonis' the public and fisherman were saying that the noise might drive the fish away...but instead it boosted the Maldives fishing explain how and why MDP's stand on mariculture might affect the environment of Maldives, with proof.

  4. What is the Environment Minister is doing in these cases to protect Maldives and the Maldivians:

  5. If untreated sewage is disposed into the sea and reefs, we wonder how many people’s right to a safe and healthy environment is violated in the Maldives.

    SEWAGE AROUND MALÉ Filed under Pollution

    Fish enjoy sewage effluent, which is discharged in every ½ hour interval from a sewer outfall around Malé When children and others swim and bath in the waters around Malé, especially in the artificial beach and swimming tract in Malé, they could not imagine how close they are to sewer outfalls and how much the water in which they swim is contaminated with faecal and chemicals from these untreated sewer outfalls.

    School children getting ready to take swimming lessons in the Swimming Tract in Malé, near a sewer outfall. In past instances the swimming tract and artificial beach were closed for public for swimming and bathing due to complaints of higher sewer contamination. According to the State of the Environment Report 2002, sewage effluent, potentially harmful substances and different chemicals are disposed untreated into coastal water of Male’ from nine pump stations by means of six sewer outfalls around Male’. “The pollution load from these sewer outfalls probably exceeds the dilution capacity of the receiving waters,” State of the Environment Report 2002 said.

    Artificial Beach: One and Only Beach for 1/3 of Population of Maldives Living in Malé Domestic sewage, industrial wastewater and clinical and lab waste water from photo and X-ray labs are discharged untreated from these six sewer outfalls into the sea and reefs around Malé. The results of the discharge of untreated sewage effluent, sediment stress from harbor dredging and reclamation has affected coral reef around Malé and seriously degraded the reef compared to other islands. Except few resorts, sewage treatment is an alien business in the Maldives: most of the islands sewage effluent is disposed into ground by mean of septic tanks or untreated into sea. There is potential impact of the untreated wastewater on the health of people and the environment, and the fear of these chemicals getting into the food chain. The currents flowing around Malé and across Atolls in the Maldives reverse with the change in season, during Iruvaa (North East Monsoon- December-April) current flows from the North, and during Hulhagu (South West Monsoon- April-December), it’s the reverse. With change in season, the pattern of sewer contamination around Malé also changes. Even in 2002 sewerage contamination from these outfalls exceeded the “dilution capacity of the receiving water”. Can you imagine the present level of sewage concentration around the coast of Malé after 7 years? According to the Regulation on Protection and Conservation of Environment in the Tourism Industry, sewage from resorts, hotels and guesthouses have to be disposed in a manner that is least harmful to the environment. If this is the case, what is mindboggling is that this regulation is not enforced on hotels and guesthouses built in Malé. If untreated sewage is not good for tourist resorts, why it good enough for more than 150,000 locals living in Malé and those in other outer islands? Recently, the Constitution Assembly (People’s Special Majlis) has adopted the right to sewerage system as a fundamental human right. If untreated sewage is disposed into the sea and reefs, we wonder how many people’s right to a safe and healthy environment is violated in the Maldives.


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