“We do not want to be in Paris to get perished,” Maldives ambassador tells climate change convention

The Maldives has urged the world to take reach a strong and legally binding climate change agreement at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Speaking at the plenary meeting of the 20th Conference of the Parties to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Lima Ambassador Ahmed Sareer emphasised on the need for a negotiated text in order to arrive at a strong agreement in Paris in 2015.

“We do not want to be in Paris to get perished,” said Sareer.

The Maldives mission to the United Nations reports that Sareer told the meeting that the Maldives, as a small, low-lying island state, is among the most vulnerable and least defensible countries to the projected impacts of climate change.

Touching on the ongoing water crisis in Malé, Sareer said that the situation “is a stark example of the vulnerability of small island developing states like the Maldives that has no natural fresh water sources”.

A fire in the capital’s only desalination plant left 130,000 people without running water last week, requiring international relief efforts to deal with the crisis.

Unusual in the crowded capital, water shortages have become commonplace in the country’s outer atolls – a combination of periods of drought and groundwater contaminated by the 2004 tsunami.

Noting the recent pledges to the Green Climate Fund – intended to raise $100 billion a year by 2020 – Sareer said: “as a small island developing state that is constantly facing an existential threat, the current pledges are simply not enough”.

The Maldives has recently become chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), while former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom calling on larger nations to allow vulnerable states to take a lead in climate change policy.

Ambassador Sareer said that the Maldives’ share of global emission is negligible, and that the government of Maldives was striving to make the country resilient.

Former President Nasheed – who gained international acclaim for his efforts at the 2009 climate change conference – recently told the International Bar Association (IBA) that he feared Maldivians could become the world’s first climate change refugees.

“When I was elected president, I caused some controversy by saying we would someday have to leave our islands. I was hopeful then that we would be able to change the way our story ends. But I fear it is too late now for the Maldives,” he told the IBA’s showcase session on climate change and human rights.

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference – or COP21 – will be held in Paris between November 30 and December 11 next year.

The COP21 organising committee has said that: “By the end of the meeting, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, all the nations of the world, including the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, will be bound by a universal agreement on climate.”

Related to this story

Maldivians could be among first climate refugees, warns Nasheed

Maldives world’s most vulnerable country to climate-change related impacts on food security

Maldives’ economy hardest hit by climate change: Asian Development Bank


Challenges to climate change governance: Transparency Maldives

A lack of consolidated institutions for climate governance poses key challenges to the Maldives’ effort to save the country from dangers of climate change.

One of the lowest-lying countries in the world, with an average elevation of 1.5 meters above sea level, the Maldives is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as sea level rise.

In international climate negotiations, as a developing country and a member of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), the Maldives has been a vocal advocate for strong mitigation and adaptation strategies against climate change.

The country has also been a recipient of large amounts of funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects, under both bilateral and multilateral funding schemes.

According to a preliminary report on Climate Governance Integrity by Transparency Maldives, approximately US$160.5 million dollars is currently being spent on various projects through externally funded grants and loans.

However, the report stated that according to the Government, management of mitigation and adaptation projects has proven to be a difficult task as a result of limitations in human resources, institutional capacity, and local expertise in the field.

According to the report, the Maldives “lacks a comprehensible overall institutional framework and comprehensive policy for addressing climate change”.

The report stated that institutional rivalry and unclear mandates have resulted in confusion within institutions, in situations where one project is dealt with by two or more different institutions.

As as example, Transparency Maldives highlighted the Scaling up of Renewable Energy Projects (SREP). The project was initially planned and formulated by the Ministry of Housing and Environment (MHE) but was later handed over to the newly established Renewable Energy Investment Office (REIO) at the Ministry of Economic Development.

Challenges to climate governance include institutional mandates being in a “constant flux” in a transitional democracy, according to the report.

It noted that the former government appointed two presidential advisors – Mike Mason, an expert on renewable energy, carbon finance, and offsetting, and Mark Lynus, an environment activist and journalist – on climate change related policies, “both of whom resigned following the change of power on February 7. No new advisors have been appointed to date.”

The National Planning Council (NPC) under the Department of National Planning (DNP), one of the main bodies overseeing climate change projects, had ceased functioning following February 7 and was awaiting reform, the report noted.

The other major body providing expert advice on adaptation and mitigation efforts, including achieving carbon neutrality by 2020, was the Climate Change Advisory Council (CCAC), a 15 member body chaired by President Mohamed Waheed while he was Vice President. The report noted that in 2011 the CCAC only met twice, “even though they initially planned to meet every fortnight according to the government press statement [at the time].”

Speaking to Minivan News, Senior Project Coordinator at Transparency Maldives Azim Zahir said, “New institutions have being created and the mandates are constantly changing. The change of administration in February is likely to affect consolidation as well.”

Another major challenge to climate governance is the absense of a comprehensive database on climate change projects in the Maldives, Zahir said.

“There is not a single institution that has a complete database on climate projects. It is very difficult to gather information and this makes it harder to incorporate anti-corruption safeguards,” Zahir added.

Last year, the NGO stated that it was vital to strengthen the governance structure of the country to properly manage climate change funding in order to meet mitigation and adaptation targets.

The Maldives rose slightly to rank 134 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2011, a mild improvement on 2010 when the Maldives was ranked 143th – below Zimbabwe.

Project Director of Transparency Maldives, Aiman Rasheed, said at the time that the ranking could not be compared year-to-year, especially in the Maldives where there were only a three sources used to determine the index (India has six).

“Corruption in the Maldives is grand corruption, unlike neighbouring countries where much of it is petty corruption,” Rasheed said. “In the Maldives there is corruption across the judiciary, parliament and members of the executive, all of it interlinked, and a systemic failure of the systems in place to address this. That why we score so low.”


Maldives, US share climate change answer: Miscellany News

What oppositional forces in the United States, the Maldives, and other endangered countries like it must understand in order for real change to happen is the sheer risk posed by climate change and the likelihood that, without action within the next few years, humanity may not be able to avoid catastrophic economic damage and loss of life, writes Lane Kisonak for the The Miscellany News.

It has been known for some time that the government of Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, a former human rights activist who has been called the Nelson Mandela of the Indian Ocean, has been amassing a “sovereign wealth fund” for the purchase of land in India, Sri Lanka or Australia in order to eventually resettle the Maldivian people.

But after all that, Nasheed resigned in February, likely having been forced to do so by allies of Maumoon Gayoom, the dictator Nasheed had unseated in the Maldives’ first democratic elections in 2008 after 30 damaging years in power.

Nasheed’s efforts to protect his people from global warming are, I believe, illustrative of two truths for all societies interested in climate change mitigation: first, the localized nature of climate change politics, and second, how easily it gets pushed aside in favor of other matters due to personal agendas and institutional inertia.

In the Maldives, the chief rationale for the removal of Nasheed after three years of high popular support and decisive action repairing the wounds of Gayoom’s dictatorship was the purportedly wrongful arrest of a criminal court judge on corruption charges. Political forces friendly to Gayoom found it in their interest to take advantage of this incident and align against Nasheed (BBC, “Dramatic fall for Maldives’ democratic crusader,” 02.08.12). In the end they successfully took him down, likely dealing a harsh blow to the Maldives’ climate change efforts and introducing political instability all in the interest of gaining power.

What the United States and the Maldives have in common is the potential within smaller, geographically based units to make large strides in protecting people from climate change. They additionally share institutional roadblocks to getting the job done. Sadly for the Maldivians the obstacle they face—the machinations of the party of a dictator attempting to return to power—may prove much harder to overcome. It is telling, for example, that Nasheed’s efforts were as much about working around his parliament to raise awareness abroad as they were internally focused.

Read more


Q&A: Shinaz, Maldivian Antarctic explorer

Mohamed Shinaz Saeed, 25, a professional photographer and co-founder of the Maldivian Youth Climate Network (MYCN), came to the spotlight following an eye-catching stunt to display the risk of Maldives submerging by the rising sea levels, crawling into a tank filld with 200 gallons of frigid water during the Copenhagen climate talks in 2009. Today he again making headlines as the first known Maldivian to travel to the Antarctic, as part of the International Antarctic Expedition 2012 organised by ‘2041’ – a movement founded by lead environmental activist Robert Swan, OBE, the first person in history to walk to both the North and South poles.

HL: Tell me about the expedition.

MSS: This expedition’s purpose is to create ambassadors for education, environment and sustainability across the globe. The participants of the expedition will get to explore sites in the Antarctic previously only seen by early heroic explorers. We will get first-hand knowledge of the fragile ecosystem of Antarctic, it’s unique wildlife and at the same time observe the magnificent landscape of Antarctic. Experts on the environment, climate change and sustainable development will provide us with the latest information and knowledge in their respective fields in the dynamic classroom of the Antarctic, and the difference will be that we’ll get to see everything in person.

HL: How did you get involved?

MSS: I was attending the British Council International Climate Camp 2011 in Goa where we had a presentation by an Indian scientist who recently returned from Antarctic. He was telling us about how the continent is gradually affected by climate change. Even though we read these findings on reports, I thought I could there and observe things for myself and present the appalling scenario through my photography – a lot of my friends supported the idea as well.

So, after returning home from the camp I started searching for a way to get there and I found the 2041 website, from where I learned about their International Antarctic Expedition programme. I wrote to them immediately and subsequenty received a request for an application to participate in 2012 expedition. With my dedication towards creating positive change, I was told that it would be pleasure to have me onboard the expedition. As far as I know, around 60-70 participants will be joining from all over the world.

HL: So you will be making history as the first known Maldivian to make it to Antarctic right? Your thoughts?

MSS: I’m not exactly sure whether I’m the first Maldivian to visit Antarctic. But I’m certain that I will be the first Maldivian to explore the harsh unforgiving landscape of Antarctic and share it with the world. I’ll be very proud when I get to take the first picture with the Maldivian flag on the Antarctic.

HL: What‘s interesting on the itinerary?

MSS: Right now I am in the southern most city of the world; Ushuaia of Argentina. In three days will set sail to Antarctic. Depending on ice and weather conditions, we’ll be exploring the western coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

A lot of friends have asked me to take photos of penguins, so Cuverville Island is a yes – the domed shape 250m tall island is home to vast population of well-sized Gentoo penguins. If weather permits, the team will also be visiting a lot of other exciting places and will probably camp overnight on the Antarctic ice to explore the amazing continent under the night sky. The team will also get to attend Robert Swan’s personal leadership and sustainability programme “Leadership on the Edge” which encompasses themes including environment, education and survival.

HL: Now all ready face the extreme cold?

MSS: I don’t expect the journey to be easy. Going from one of the warmest countries in the world to the coldest is a great challenge. But I am positive that I’ll get through everything put in my way with the guidance of the expedition leaders. All and all this would not have been possible without the generous support extended by my sponsors ; STO, LeCute, Panasonic, Soneva Fushi, Maldivian, Allied Insurance, Bandos Island Resort & Spa, CDE Consulting, Villa College and all those great individuals who encouraged me in every way to get this far. I also thank my amazing family and friends for their unwavering support.

HL: What’s the message you want to give to your readers?

MSS: I always felt that working towards preserving the environment is only for the environmental experts. But from what I have learned and from what I have seen I have come to understand the rest of the world has a much larger role to play. So I’m going to be using my skills as a photographer and designer to spread the message my way. And I want everyone reading this to know that even you can do something regardless of your background…no matter how small it is, do it.

It’s never about believing in climate change but it’s all about being prepared for what may come at us. So we at the Maldivian Youth Climate Network (MYCN) are working towards creating a resilient Maldives to climate change. We wouldn’t want any harm to come to our beloved nation. So let Maldives set an example to the world.

The expedition can be followed on the website www.2041.com and more photo and detailed updates from Shinaz can be found on www.facebook.com/shinazantarctic and www.twitter.com/shinazantarctic.


Maldives appeals to world for technical help with carbon neutral plan

The Maldives has become the first country to crowdsource its renewable energy plan on the internet.

The current draft of the plan focuses on using solar energy to generate most of the country’s electricity and cut emissions by 60 percent before 2020.

The plan suggests that up to 80 percent of the electricity island communities use could be derived from renewable energy, without the cost of energy increasing.  The plan also proposes a shift to wind, batteries and biomass to complement solar power, retaining existing diesel generators for reserve power.

The Ministry of Economic Development revealed that economic modeling had shown that it was already cheaper to generate electricity from solar photovoltaic panels than from diesel on many Maldivian islands.

The direct cost of daytime solar PV is around US $0.21 per kilowatt hour, compared to $0.28 – $0.44 per kW/hour for existing diesel generators.

The cost of decarbonising the Maldives, which spends almost 25 percent of its GDP importing fuel, mostly on marine diesel, is estimated to be US$3-5 billion over the next 10 years.

“The investments will largely pay for themselves because the Maldives would save huge sums of money on oil imports,” the Ministry of Economic Development observed in a statement.

The Renewable Energy Investment Office, based in the Ministry of Economic Development, was established to help combat global warming. Last week it opened an internet forum for local and international groups and individuals to advise the Maldives’ plan to develop solar energy, which has been approved by the Cabinet.

“The government has limited experience working with renewable energies because these are relatively new technologies to the Maldives,” noted Minister for Economic Development, Mahmoud Razee.

“We have published our investment framework online and highlighted areas where we require feedback and help. We are crowd sourcing our energy plans and inviting the whole world to help us,” Razee said.

A more detailed plan will be submitted again in February, with details on investment strategies, explained Razee.

“Maldives is the first country to do this on a global scale and over the internet. This shows that we are innovative and willing to share by working with other countries on this issue, which affects everyone. Also, it shows that we are willing to be as transparent as we can,” Razee said.

Forum users must register with their real name and submit identification information before contributing, and they will be asked a series of questions to confirm that they are qualified to share their expertise. The forum rules encourage debate, but note that comments that “are deemed offensive or inappropriate, or don’t relate to the question” will not be published.

The forum rules further requests that “criticism of a proposal has to be supported by offering a better alternative, with a clear idea of cost and practicality,” in order to be useful.

The goals of the plan, Razee stated, were to free the country from the uncertainties and costs of its oil dependency, and to demonstrate global leadership in the fight against climate change.

“While we are working now on the initial production planning and development we will also be looking to use local and international expertise to develop storage capacity,” Razee said, acknowledging that storage was a primary concern.

While the Maldives has abundant sunlight during the day, the battery technology required for large-scale power generation at night is extremely expensive.

“Right now, we aren’t looking at storage because it would double the cost in this current economic environment. Technology is evolving reasonably rapidly though, and in five or ten years we think that providing storage will more affordable,” Razee said.

“Batteries are used at night, and as we know a lot of electricity is generated then. So we will need to address the issue of storage and how to provide energy at night within our larger goals.”

Forum topics in the comprehensive crowdsourcing project include solar and wind technology, energy storage, system control and demand management, novel technologies (including marine current and ocean thermal), biomass power generation, and finance.

Under each topic the Maldives appeals for expert assistance on several technical questions, around issues such as the use of solar panels in corrosive environments, the economics of tracking or fixed solar panel systems, and the viability of low velocity wind turbines.

Visit the forum (English)


Maldives a vital force of high ambition in climate diplomacy: UK Special Representative for Climate Change

International climate change negotiations are reaching a critical “and potentially quite dangerous moment” ahead of this year’s COP17 summit in Durban, the UK Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change John Ashton has said during his first visit to the Maldives.

With economic meltdowns in Europe, deep internal political debates in the US and the drive in developing economies to create jobs for the increasing number of people migrating to cities, political attention was  being distracted from climate change, he observed.

“There are lots of distractions and we need to keep an eye on the ball. The Maldives can help the international community to do that,” he said. “Whenever I get a chance I draw attention to the circumstances of the Maldives, and I encourage people here to use the platform they have because their voices need to be heard more widely.

“The Maldives is extremely important. Because of its vulnerability, particularly to sea level rise, and the skills of President Mohamed Nasheed in communicating the country’s predicament globally, the Maldives has a global influence on perceptions of climate change. I’m here because we need to learn to see this problem though eyes of the Maldives. What is clearer here than in other places is the scale, urgency and existential nature of the problem. In our global response to climate change, we haven’t developed a response commiserate with that urgency.”

Underneath the ongoing climate talks, he said, “is a battle between low and high ambitions. It is partly played out as a battle between those who want to see a legally binding approach and those who want a voluntary approach – which is likely to be as effective as a voluntary approach to speed limits.”

Ashton predicted that climate negotiations in Durban and over the next few years would lead to a “decisive battle between the two models.”

As a country with intense vulnerability to climate change, the Maldives had an opportunity to use its iconic status to frame the debate.

“One goes [to the talks] and feels the tussle between the forces of low ambition and high ambition. The Maldives is very much a force of high ambition, and that is appreciated very much by all of us who identify with the need for a high ambition response, including the UK,’ Ashton said.

Minivan News understands that international delegations expressed surprise and confusion during talks held in Berlin in early July, when the Maldives’ Deputy Environment Minister Mohamed Shareef appeared to entertain support for special response measures proposed by Saudi Arabia – measures which would see the kingdom compensated for lost oil revenues.

A person familiar with the matter voiced frustration at the position and claimed it signalled the Maldives “has gone from being a world leader to a banana republic in international climate policy in the space of little more than a year.”

Speaking to Minivan News today, Dr Shareef said “I don’t believe for one minute that Saudi Arabia’s concerns are genuine, and I don’t like the idea of response measures.”

“This has been taken out of context. Our argument is that the concerns of all parties should be addressed,” he said. “Real concerns should be kept, the others thrown out. My argument is that we can’t just put difficult issues aside – there are very difficult issues in this negotiation we are not considering. Saudi Arabia and OPEC countries are blocking [the negotiations] and we are not addressing their concerns. There should be a mechanism to address the concerns of all parties.”

Ashton today observed that “there is always a danger at these meetings of over-interpreting what other people are saying. People have their antennae finely tuned, and if you are someone who doesn’t go to all of the meetings it’s quite easy to misinterpret something as the opposite of what was meant.”

“I don’t know what was said. But I have in all of my engagement with Maldives seen it as a voice of pragmatic high ambition in the global conversation, and that has been greatly reinforced by all the meetings I’ve had here. I wouldn’t read too much into indirect accounts of what one Maldivian official might have said in Berlin.”

The agreement on climate was, Ashton said, “the most complex piece of diplomacy ever devised. It’s not surprising that it has twists and turns, not the least because the problems involving not just negotiation but the underlying domestic politics of the parties involved in the negotiation. Every negotiation involves compromises, and there are people who want to go faster, and people who want to go slower.”

The Maldives’ hitherto empathetic and uncompromising position on climate change had given it an “ enormous authority as an arbiter as to how fast is fast enough,” he said.

“If I was a representative of the Maldives I would not be willing to compromise on that, because the stakes are so high.”

It was legitimate to raise the subject of response measures, Ashton said, as “this really is about a re-engineering of the global economy. Lowering carbon emissions affect how we produce electricity, use land and conduct industry. It not an environmental negotiation about air or water quality, it’s an economic negotiation. You have to accept this is going to have disruptive consequences, and where you have economic disruption you have politics. Political economy comes into play because you have a distributional problem – how opportunities are shared and how risks allocated. That’s true within economies, and to some extent internationally.”

Questions surrounding response measures and distribution were significant for the Maldives, he said, because it suffered from climate change “in an existential way. If the sea level rise, there are real questions about the viability of a state like the Maldives. In an order of priorities, problems like that should come right at the top.”

Response measures recognised that the process of reengineering the global economy was disruptive, he said, “and that there is time for economies to adapt.”

“But I don’t think it is legitimate for the whole process to be held hostage by an issue like this. Because in the end if this is the approach that everybody adopts, we will get precisely nowhere.”

The Maldives’ had an opportunity to benefit financially from becoming a carbon neutral economy, he predicted, “because all your energy comes from diesel, which you have to import, and over the next 10 years is going to become more expensive. You could probably [adapt] in a way that doesn’t impose additional burdens on the economy, and actually save money while building a more resilient and energy-secure economy.”

The world had confidence, Ashton said, that the Maldives’ ambitions to become carbon neutral by 2020 “is not just cosmetic positioning. I came here partly because I wanted to see what was happening with the carbon neutral plan. I’m hugely impressed.”

“Maldives make a huge difference. Athough people understand carbon neutral economy, a lot of people feel it thwill be a burden – a risk to the economy rather than an opportunity, and perhaps a risk to political stability. People hesitate. What the Maldives can say in pursuing its carbon neutral plan, is that ‘If we are, why can’t you?’. That’s a powerful message.”


Climate funding unprecedented opportunity for corruption, warns Transparency

Climate funding presents unprecedented opportunities for corruption as large sums of money flow through new channels from donor nations, Transparency Maldives (TM) has warned.

Over US$130 billion in worldwide funding for climate change adaption and mitigation projects is predicted to flow into the highly complex aid sector, said TM Project Coordinator Maurifa Hassan, during the local launch of Transparency International’s Global Corruption Report focusing on climate change.

“Those most affected by climate change are those most marginalised,” said Hassan during the launch at Traders Hotel. “Rules of engagement” set by donor nations were “diverse and complicated”, and directing funding to where it was needed most would require strengthening transparency and governance practices.

Already, she said, “where carbon markets have been introduced, the rules tend to be set by the market leaders.”

Speaking at the launch, Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz emphasised the importance of ensuring aid investment and expenditure was transparent.

“Many islands require immediate and expensive engineering,” he said. “Adaption is costly, and sea walls do not come cheap. Male’s sea wall cost US$17 million, and without the support of Japan we would not have been able to build it.”

Investment in renewable energy was also central to the country breaking its addiction to imported oil, he noted.

“However, large amounts of international funds have gone into reports produced by foreign consultants, which then sit on the shelves in various ministries,” Inaz said. “That is also a form of corruption – the money is not going where it is needed.”

‘Climate Champion’ Hamza Khaleel from the Commonwealth’s Youth Program observed that accountability for funding among local bodies was “almost non-existent.”

“The people are the eventual victims of half-finished projects, and this can have a real impact on democracy,” he said.

“The government must lead by example, as the private sector takes its lead from the government.”

Transparency International’s report on climate finance corruption emphasised “better governance” as the solution, and said that “it will be crucial to ensure that the mitigation strategies and adaptation solutions that emerge at local, national and international levels embrace participation, accountability and integrity.”

“Left unchallenged, corruption ruins lives, destroys livelihoods and thwarts attempts at social and economic justice. The same risks apply to climate change,” the report said.


Comment: Climate change a real and imminent threat to the Maldives

Climate change is a very real and imminent threat to the Maldives, the smallest nation in Asia, which lost 20 islands during the 2004 tsunami. Since then, the government has gone strictly carbon neutral in a bid to protect its population from the rising sea.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has described climate change as “perhaps the 21st century’s biggest foreign policy challenge”.

He has stressed that “a world which is failing to respond to climate change is one in which the values embodied in the United Nations will not be met”.

Indeed, the UN Charter makes clear that a central purpose of that organisation is to “achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character”.

Climate change is just such a problem – and its impacts and costs fall disproportionally on developing countries. That is deeply unfair. So it is only right that in Cancun last December the 16th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change reaffirmed the commitment from developed countries in Copenhagen in December 2009 jointly to mobilise $100bn of climate finance a year by 2020, to address the adaptation needs of developing countries and help them to limit their carbon emissions.

The UK takes this commitment very seriously and recognises the need for urgent action. The British Government has therefore allocated £2.9bn of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to international climate finance for the period 2011/12 to 2014/15 (including our Fast Start commitment). This will be administered through our International Climate Fund (ICF), which has just been formally established. We expect to spend about 50 percent of the total on adaptation in poor and vulnerable countries, with around 30% for work to reduce carbon emissions and 20% for forestry.

We have three overall priorities for ICF funding, which we will deliver through both bilateral and multilateral channels in a way which maximises its impact and value for money:

  • To show that building low carbon, climate resilient growth at scale is both feasible and desirable;
  • To support adaptation in poor countries and help build an effective international framework on climate change;
  • To drive innovation, creating new partnerships with the private sector to support low carbon climate resilient growth

The ICF will also fund the climate element of an Advocacy Fund to support the poorest countries to take part more effectively in international negotiations; this will be formally established later this year.

This UK funding will play an important role in helping to mobilise ambitious global action on climate change. But the UK is the only major donor so far to have made specific finance commitments up to 2015. More is needed to meet the Copenhagen commitment of $100bn a year by 2020. We look to other donors too to make significant and ambitious financial pledges, and we look to business to play an important role, since we expect the target to be reached through a mix of public and private finance.

As the Stern Review in 2006 made clear, the clock is ticking. With every passing year, the global cost of effective action to tackle climate change grows greater. The time to act is now.

John Rankin is the British High Commissioner to the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Male’ will not survive without resolving housing, congestion and fuel challenges: President Nasheed

President Mohamed Nasheed has said that Male’ “will not survive without some solution to its housing, some solution to its congestion, some solution to the amount of oil that we are importing everyday.”

Nasheed was speaking at a press conference yesterday to launch the second phase of the Gulhi Falhu development project, attended by the Danish Ambassador Freddy Svane.

The first street of the US$600 million Gulhi Falhu development project, intended to reduce the congestion of Male’, will be called Copenhagen Avenue.

The project involves the reclamation of 40 hectares of land on which will be constructed 2500 housing units. The new landmass will be connected by bridge to Villingili on completion of the second stage of the project and eventually, Nasheed said, joined to Male’ via a bridge from the tsunami monument to Vilingili.

“We have one long stretch of road that starts from the tsunami monument in Male’, and ends at Thilafalhu, which is right next to Giraavaru, which is very far away,” he said. This road would be called Copenhagen Avenue, in recognition of the support of the Danish government.

The houses built by the project’s Global Projects Development Company will be constructed in an environmentally-friendly manner, in partnership with US company Red Dot. Red Dot will construct a solar park which will provide electricity to the new residential and industrial districts.

Nasheed also said that a campus for the recently inaugrated Maldives National University would also be constructed on Gulhi Falhu.

“[Gulhi Falhu] is our showpiece development, our showpiece community and we are quite confident that we will be able to use the land by, hopefully end of next year or early 2013,” President Nasheed said.

Development, the President added, was not measured in concrete.

“During the last two months, I have visited more than 130 islands and very often I am given a shopping list. ‘President; we need a harbor, we need a sewerage system.’

“They [say they] need a water system and they also like a lot of concrete. I have been consistently trying to tell everyone that development is not measured in concrete. It is measure by what we know and what we understand. It’s a phenomenon that happens to a person, not to a country. If we want to develop, we will have to develop our minds. We will have to broaden our minds. We will have to be able to think outside the box, find solutions and fix problems.”

Projects such as Gulhi Falhu would not save the world, Nasheed said, “but we like to think that if we can become an example, the rest of the world can have a look at it and people can actually see and understand that it is working. So in very many senses, this whole project is a green project, and at the centre of it is a green park.”

Nasheed thanked the Danish government for its support of the undertaking.

“If all goes wrong in the Maldives, of course it is an issue for the Danes,” Nasheed said. “All of us are interconnected. If things go wrong in Denmark it’s going to have huge effects and impacts on us. We must be able to look after each other. That doesn’t mean that we should be asking for aid and grants. No, we are asking, seeking for trade. This is a very good example of trade collaborations and also a very good example of how a friendly country can actually back a flourishing or a democracy that is in the process of making.

Danish Ambassador Svane expressed gratitude for Nasheed’s “tremendous job” in Copenhagen at the COP15 summit, saying that the Maldives was setting a benchmark for global efforts to fight climate change.

However he also agreed that development was as much a state of mind as it was physical infrastructure.

“We can build up all these fancy buildings, towers and so forth, but we need to change the mindset of people,” he said, adding that President Nasheed had played an important role in changing the mindset of many people all over the world.