EU pledges further €4million for climate change adaptation

The European Union has today revealed it is to release an additional €4million to address climate change in the Maldives.

“Climate change is one of the most pressing development issues that we need to address in today’s world,” said EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Sri Lanka and the Maldives H.E. Mr David Daly Tin a press release today.

“The EU has always been at the forefront of concrete action against climate change, while Maldives has through its commitment to Carbon Neutrality and more recent pledge to become a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve at the Rio Summit, led the world by example,” he continued.

The EU press release today noted that this latest climate change grant to the Maldives brings the organisation’s overall contribution to €38million over the past four years.

Granting €6.5 million to the Climate Change Trust Fund in 2009, the EU became the first body to give funds to the scheme intended to assist the Maldives in its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2020.

The initiative was agreed between the EU, the World Bank and the administration of President Mohamed Nasheed – whose efforts to raise awareness of climate change brought international acclaim, most notably at the 2009 Climate Change Forum in Copenhagen.

In a recent report titled ‘Turn Down The Heat’, the World Bank reasserted the urgent need for concerted efforts to support the Maldives in adapting to climate change, due to a projected sea level rise of 115 centimetres by 2090.

The new EU funds will go towards replicating previous projects with a particular focus on the country’s two southernmost atolls – Addu and Fuvahmulah – which will also receive capacity building assistance for local government structures.

Local NGO Transparency Maldives has in the past noted the potential for corruption due to institutional weaknesses in the Maldives’ climate governance structures.

“The current projects, being implemented by the World Bank in partnership with the Government of Maldives, focuses specifically on renewable energy solutions, wetlands conservation, rainwater harvesting, coral reef monitoring and solid waste management,” stated the EU today.

A further 22,000 inhabitants are expected to benefit from the new projects in Fuvamulah, Addu, and parts of North Ari Atoll.

“It will enable the Government in implementing a clear strategy for wetland and drainage management, ecotourism and community rainwater harvesting. The project also aims at partnering with tourist resorts for coral reef monitoring and demonstrates the manner in which efficient monitoring can be used as a tool to support decision-making, particularly in the context of coral reef protection and conservation,” read the release.

During the summer, the United States also pledged US$7.2 million for global climate change adaptation project, also including local level capacity building and exploration of further avenues for cooperation on climate change.


Maldives’ solar ambitions stall due to politics, financing, “restructuring”

Private companies and international actors are leading renewable energy implementation in the Maldives while the government “prepares” for various solar power projects.

Renewable Energy Maldives (REM) is working with approximately 25 islands, various resorts nationwide, and international actors to develop renewable energy systems and improve energy efficiency.

This private company connected solar photovoltaic (PV) panels generating 752 kilowatts (kW) to the power grid in 2012, Renewable Energy Maldives Managing Director Ibrahim Nasheed told Minivan News.

“Essentially, we are doing the [renewable energy development] work despite the government.

“President Waheed [Hassan Manik]’s government has not honored the Memorandums of Understanding signed under the previous government.

“Additionally, Fenaka – the re-centralised utilities company formed under Waheed’s government – has spent all of 2012 restructuring,” Nasheed stated.

“Since September 2011, REM and the Japanese Government are the only ones implementing renewable energy projects.

“The government has not implemented a single project this year,” Nasheed added.

Nasheed highlighted that despite the renewable energy, climate change mitigation and adaptation funds coming into the Maldives, securing financing has been very difficult.

“The major problem is the lack of funding. It is difficult to form good relationships with solar PV manufacturers so they will lower the costs because they need a bank guarantee,” he said.

To encourage Maldivian renewable energy businesses, Nasheed suggested banks provide financial backing, while money should be set aside from the climate change and renewable energy donor funds for these ‘guarantees’.

Nasheed further explained that the Scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) originally planned to be submitted to the World Bank in February 2012, but was not due to the political upheaval that resulted from former President Mohamed Nasheed’s controversial resignation February 7, 2012.

The World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds to support clean energy initiatives would have provided SREP financing. Now Waheed’s government is revising the proposal, renamed the Sustainable Renewable Energy Project (SREP) and will try to resubmit, according to Nasheed.

Abdul Matheen, the State Minister for Energy, told the publication in October 2012 that under the [new] SREP, the Maldivian government plans to begin a $138 million renewable energy project that will provide 26 mega watts of clean electricity within five years.

“[The government] is making preparations to commence the project during next month.

“Under the project, 10 islands would run solely on renewable energy. In addition, 30 percent of electricity in 30 islands will be converted to renewable energy,” Matheen told

Meanwhile Nasheed emphasised there are currently “no regulations or standards” in the renewable energy sector.

“[Governmental] progress [developing renewable energy] has been slow, it’s not as fast as we thought or would like. REM is the ‘guinea pig’ since we are leading the renewable energy provider in the Maldives. It’s a lot of work, but we have the advantage of being very involved in the process,” Nasheed stated.

Collaborative solar programs

A handful of solar PV programs have taken root on islands throughout the Maldives over the past year.

Recently, Renewable Energy Maldives and the University of Milano-Bicocca launched a renewable energy pilot project on Magoodhoo Island in Faafu Atoll to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by connecting 30 kW of solar PV panels to the island electric grid.

“Through this project, we will in particular have the possibility of reducing fuel consumption, thereby reducing the impact on our economy. Harnessing solar energy means less pollution and less dependence on external energy,” said Naseer Abdulla, Island Councilor of Maghodoo.

The “benefits from the use of renewable energies” project is focused on developing solar panels, low consumption light bulbs, and conducting courses on environmental sustainability. This project aims to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, abate environmental degradation and ensure greater energy self-sufficiency, especially on the more remote islands.

“This project represents a challenge for us to show how the problems of global climate change can be addressed by combining all available forces, the local community and beyond,” stated Paolo Galli, Coordinator of the project and Director of Marine Research and High Education Center (MARHE), and researcher from the Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences of the University of Milano-Bicocca.

“Only with the combined effort of everyone, in fact, can you get a real improvement of the environment and, consequently, the quality of life,” Galli added.

Solar PV systems are profitable and sustainable for local communities as well as Male’, according to REM and the University of Milano-Bicocca.

Diesel delivery and generator maintenance is expensive and problematic, REM’s Managing Director Nasheed explained.

However, every 3 kWh of electricity produced by solar panels saves a liter of diesel. Furthermore, 1,000 illumination points equipped with low power consumption LED light bulbs will lead to an additional savings of about 20 kWh, the University of Milano-Bicocca highlighted.

“People in Male’ use 2 to 3 kW per household daily. When they use solar power generated energy from their own systems, the excess power produced gets sold back to the power grid.

“They become very energy aware since there is a interest to reduce consumption,” stated Nasheed.

REM also explained there are numerous benefits from renewable energy, particularly solar panels, but the government has not focused on marketing these incentives.

“Villingili Island normally has to ‘shed load’ to do diesel generator repair work, but with the solar installations they didn’t have to do that.

“There was no income loss and no power loss during this maintenance period in 2012, which promotes a reliable image for the State Electric Company (STELCO),” Nasheed stated.

REM installed solar panels on six islands in Kaafu Atoll, at their own expense. Under power purchase agreements the 652 KW of power generated from the PV systems was then sold to STELCO for US.25 cents, which is a “considerably lower rate than diesel,” Nasheed explained.

The Japanese government has been involved in a number of renewable energy projects in Male’ and the Atolls as well.

In 2011, the “Project for Clean Energy Promotion in Male’” was launched. This one billion Yen grant is to install a solar rooftop grid-connected PV system on public buildings in Male’, to be completed in 2013.

Additionally, a project conducted by the Japanese government and Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP) aimed to install a 40kW solar PV grid-connected system on Dhiffushi Island in Kaafu Atoll.

Government solar projects

Since early 2012, the Maldivian government has overseen the initial stages of a few new renewable energy projects.

The Ministry of Environment in conjunction with the Ministry of Finance has issued a prequalification application for the “Solar Maldives Programme.” This project aims to “design, build, finance, own, operate and transfer grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems for integration with diesel generators on 15 islands” in the south, north, and upper north provinces.

“As part of the National Development strategy, the Government of the Republic of Maldives has been planning to transform the electricity sector though private sector investments in renewable energy development on a large scale under its Sustainable Private Investments in Renewable Energy (SPIRE) Project,” reads the application.

The government has also received bids to install a 300 kW grid connected solar PV system on Thinadhoo Island, the regional capital of Gaaf Dhaal (Huvadhoo) Atoll. This is part of the “Clean Energy for Climate Mitigation (CECM) Project” financed by the Climate Change Trust Fund (CCTF) – a collaboration between the Maldivian government, World Bank, European Union (EU) and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID).

“The system is expected to meet 30 percent of the peak day time demand of electricity and will offset approximately 300 tons of carbon dioxide annually,” states the Ministry of Environment.

The Ministry of Environment was unavailable for comment at the time of press.


EU donates EUR 6.5 million to Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund

The European Union has contributed EU€6.5 million (US$8.8 million) to the newly created Climate Change Trust Fund which aims to help the government of the Maldives in its bid to become carbon-neutral by 2020.

Minister of Finance Ali Hashim signed the tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on behalf of the Maldivian government at a “little ceremony” held at the President’s Office this morning.

World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Naoko Ishii, signed on behalf of the World Bank, and Ambassador of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Bernard Savage, on behalf of the EU.

The ceremony was attended by President Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Ahmed Shaheed and State Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem, Minister of Health and Family Dr Aminath Jameel, members of the Danish delegation and other senior members of government.

Climate change trust fund

The trust fund will be administered by the World Bank for a period of three and a half years, with the majority of resources being used by the government to conduct their projects relating to climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The World Bank will offer security for donors and hopes more countries will add to the fund to help the Maldives break its dependency on fossil fuels.

The government intends to use the trust fund to “strengthen knowledge and leadership” in the government, build “adaptive capacity” through pilot programmes, develop renewable energy through low-carbon options and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and “improve policy and institutional capacities” in both public and private sectors to deal with adaptation and mitigation of climate change.

The trust fund will also be used to strengthen coastal protection, biodiversity conservation, tourism, fisheries industry, solid waste management and energy solution.

A Climate Change Advisory Council will be established and will include members from the government and will “provide strategic direction to the climate change activities under the trust fund.”

There will also be a Technical Committee composed of experts from the government, private sector and civil society. This committee will be responsible for reviewing and recommending project proposals for financing and monitoring the progress of the trust fund programme.

EU on climate change and the Copenhagen Accord

The European Union is the first to donate to the Maldives’ Climate Change Trust Fund and is paving the way for other countries and financial institutions to do the same.

president + connie
President Nasheed and Connie Hedegaard

After the last international climate change summit in Copenhagen last year, President Nasheed proved himself to be an influential figure in the fight against climate change.

According to the CIA World Fact Book, the Maldives has the 174th largest population in the world out of 237 countries, but despite its small population and current status as a Least Developed Country (LDC), it has shown unmatched initiative in combating climate change.

Conversely, China and India, who are the two largest populations in the world and according to the New York Times are “among the largest and fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the world,” had not agreed to join the Copenhagen Accord until March 2010.

President Nasheed’s urge to “move into the Green Age” has made the Maldives a global voice on the issue.

The creation of the trust fund coincides with the EU’s newly appointed Commissioner of Climate Action, Danish national Connie Hedegaard, who is in the Maldives for two days to see the impacts of climate change in the country and oversee climate change adaptation programmes.

Hedegaard is currently running the EU’s climate change policy and will be departing for India after her visit to the Maldives.

Signing ceremony

Minister Hashim said this MoU showed the government is “making progress” on climate change adaptation, and noted that this was one of the promises the government made before they came to power and one of the “key elements…that we will deliver to the people.”

Ambassador Savage noted he was the very first European commissioner to visit the Maldives and found it “very appropriate” that he is the commissioner in charge for climate change action, “the very subject of the MoU that were are signing here today.”

He said climate change mitigation “demands urgent, cooperative and shared responsibility” and the “EU welcomes the opportunity to assist the government of the Maldives” to fulfil their pledge of carbon neutrality.

“The EU is and has always been a real friend of the Maldives,” Savage said, “so this MoU is a further indication of that friendship and also a recognition by the EU of the priorities set for the country’s development as it moves through this democratic change and into the future.”

He said the EU “recognises, shares and participates in the priorities set by the government of the Maldives and we wish to further cement that partnership as we move forward.”

Savage added that signing the MoU “in such distinguished company” showed the importance of climate change to both the Maldives and the EU.

Naoko Ishii said the World Bank thought the government’s bid to be carbon-neutral by 2020 was “a very ambitious goal but it’s not impossible to achieve.”

She said the World Bank was inspired by the government’s way of dealing with this challenge and hoped the trust fund “will really help you achieve your vision.”

“It’s crucial for Maldives to build a climate resilient economy and society through adaptation,” she said.

Ishii said “this could be a real opportunity for other donors to come in and help the government,” and was “so pleased to see there is an actual instrument to realise [the] dream [of carbon neutrality].”