President to attend B4E summit in South Korea

President Mohamed Nasheed has confirmed his participation in the upcoming B4E Business for Environment Global Summit in Seoul, Republic of South Korea, from 21-23 April, reports Miadhu.

The summit is an international summit for dialogue and business-driven action for the environment, with some of the topics on the agenda being resource efficiency, renewable energy and climate change policies and strategies.

CEOs and senior executives will join politicians, international agencies and NGOs to discuss bridging the fight against climate change and the business world.


New French Ambassador meets President Nasheed

The new French Ambassador to the Maldives, Christine Robichon, presented her credentials to President Mohamed Nasheed yesterday afternoon.

President Nasheed and Ambassador Robichon discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and way to strengthen cooperation.

The president thanked the government and people of France for their assistance to the Maldives, especially their cooperation towards the democratisation and reform process.

The ambassador said the French government supported President Nasheed and his effort to combat climate change, as well as the new democratic government of the Maldives and their respect of human rights and good governance.

She added the French government was willing to continue building strong relations between the two countries that had been established during the Copenhagen climate change summit in 2009.


President Nasheed welcomes new Mexican ambassador

New Ambassador of Mexico to the Maldives, Jaime Virgilio Nualart Sánchez, presented his credentials to President Mohamed Nasheed at the President’s Office yesterday morning.

The meeting focused on finding areas of cooperation between the two countries and strengthening areas of cooperation.

Ambassador Nualart Sánchez noted climate change and human rights issues were of concern to both countries.

President Nasheed said the Maldives will give all possible assistance to make the next climate change summit COP16, to be held in Cancún, Mexico later this year, a success.

Nualart Sánchez has previously been ambassador to Egypt and India.


Donor Conference pledges now US$487 million, says Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Aid commitments following the recent Maldives Donor Conference have reached US$487 million, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed and State Minister Ahmed Naseem took to the stage this morning to dismiss claims made by the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) that the donor conference had raised less US$20 million in pledges.

“That is their own number,” Dr Shaheed said.

“If you add up the money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the UN system, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) it’s almost US$200 million. That is 80 per cent of pledges coming from these big donors.”

Shaheed spoke about monitoring and implementation mechanisms, which would ensure the funds are used according to the donor’s wishes and the government’s pledges.

Coordinator for the UN in the Maldives Mansoor Ali said the donor conference had been very successful and it was “not the time to be negative” about the results.

Dr Shaheed also spoke of the recent climate change meeting held this week by the Progressive Group in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, where delegates from 23 countries met to advance negotiations before the next international climate change summit scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico in November this year.

The Progressive Group brings together the countries with a “forward-looking and constructive attitude to international climate change negotiations,” and played a key role in last year’s international climate change summit in Copenhagen.

Delegates from over twenty countries came together in Colombia to “exchange opinions and promote active participation towards the next climate change summit.”

The meeting focused mostly on creating ministerial-level communication between countries, in hopes to ease dialogue between nations and to advance on key issues such as fast-start financing, adaptation, low-carbon development and verification of emission cuts.

Maldives proposed a second ministerial-level meeting to take place in Malé in July this year.

Dr Shaheed also spoke of President Mohamed Nasheed’s recent visit to Europe, and confirmed that German Police officers will be arriving in Malé “very soon” to begin training Maldives Police Service (MPS) officers to work in a democracy.

“They are the ones who retrained the Stasi in East Germany after German reunification, as well as the police force in Kosovo,” Shaheed said. “They are the best in the world at what they do.”

He said the German team will stay in the Maldives from one year to eighteen months, depending on when they believe the MPS is ready, “all at the German government’s expense.”

Dr Shaheed added that Icelandic President, Ólafur Grímsson, will be visiting the Maldives soon to promote sustainable green energy alongside President Nasheed.

Dr Shaheed spoke of the recently signed agreement with the Rothschild banking dynasty, which has agreed to help the Maldives in the bid to become carbon neutral by 2020.

“There needs to be a study on where we have most carbon emissions,” Dr Shaheed said, adding that “they will also try to carbon-proof our current systems.”

The Rothschild group will secure international financing to fund a carbon audit of the Maldives. Dr Shaheed said the surveying will take approximately nine months.

Dr Shaheed ended the press conference with news of the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to draft a new international human rights treaty as an additional optional protocol to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was proposed by the Maldives.

Maldives was chosen to chair the core group discussing the CRC in Geneva, joined by Slovenia, Slovakia, Egypt, Kenya, France, Finland, Thailand, Uruguay and Chile.

The CRC, which is the most ratified treaty in the world, was lacking in allowing cases regarding abuse of the rights of children to be submitted to international UN mechanisms.

The new treaty proposes to allow cases to be sent to international protection mechanisms to intervene when domestic institutions fail to offer protection.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story Dr Shaheed was quoted as saying the visiting German police trainers were  responsible for retraining the Gestapo after the Second World War. This has been clarified as the Stasi, the East German secret police, who were retrained after the reunification of Germany post-1990.


Australian architects design floating skyscrapers for the Maldives

Australian architects have proposed floating skyscrapers to be built in the Maldives in an attempt to combat rising sea levels.

The designs, named ‘Maldives Floating States’, were submitted as part of the 2010 Skyscraper Competition organised by eVolo architecture magazine. They made the finals but did not get into the top three.

Architects William Fong, Joshua Loke and Livee Tan proposed that, in case rising sea levels were to flood all of the Maldives, the entire population could be relocated onto 1,000 metre tall floating structures.

They believe this way, the people of the Maldives could continue to live in “its own waters” and not lose its culture and heritage.

They have called their designs “engineering marvels of buoyancy and height” with the proposed structures to be anchored to the sea floor more than 1,000 metres below the surface.

To accommodate growing population, they suggest the towers’ height can be increased or new towers can be built, “like reclamation, only floating.”

In early March, the government signed an agreement with Dutch Company Dutch Docklands to build a floating golf course and and hotel.


President Nasheed meets Finnish counterpart

President Mohamed Nasheed arrived in Finland yesterday morning, continuing his European tour.

President Nasheed met with Finnish President Tarja Halonen. The two presidents discussed climate change and democracy.

A press conference was held after the meeting, where President Halonen welcomed President Nasheed and expressed confidence that his visit would strengthen relations between the two countries.

President Halonen said climate change was a great issue to Finland and they were willing to work with the Maldives to find a solution.

President Nasheed congratulated the Finnish president in her strive to promote women’s rights and said the Maldives was committed in promoting gender equality.

President Nasheed said democracy and good governance were as important as financial assistance in combating climate change. He said citizens as well as governments needed to strive to protect the environment.

President Nasheed also spoke of establishing democracy in the Maldives and said he was confident Finland would support the Maldives in consolidating and strengthening its democracy.

President Nasheed will meet the Minister of Public Administration and Local Government, Mari Kiviniemi and representatives of the Finnish tourism and business sectors.

He will also participate in a seminar on climate change and leadership which is being organised by the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.


President gives lecture on climate change at University of Iceland

President Mohamed Nasheed delivered a public lecture at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik on the effects and ways to combat climate change.

He said climate change was a very real threat, and “climate deniers” were trying to continue with “business as usual.”

“A handful of e-mails don’t disprove overwhelming body of science,” President Nasheed said.

The president added that cutting down carbon emissions would not compromise the development of a nation, stating that “we need development but we do not need carbon.”

He used Iceland as an example of a country developing without large amounts of carbon emissions. He said Iceland could be seen as a great example by other developing countries.

The president also spoke of the urgent need for a legally binding climate change treaty.

President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson was present at the lecture. In his introduction he said President Nasheed is “a champion of democracy” and congratulated him on his efforts to highlight the issues of climate change.

The president also visited the University’s Natural Science Building and sought information on geological and climactic change.

President Nasheed concluded his visit in Iceland and left for Switzerland yesterday.


President meets with Icelandic ministers

On his last day in Iceland, President Mohamed Nasheed met with both the Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Jón Bjarnsason, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Össur Skarphéðinsson.

President Nasheed met with Minister Bjarnsason at Iceland’s Marine Research Institute, where they discussed the development of a mutually beneficial cooperative framework between the Maldives and Iceland in the area of fisheries and fishing technologies.

They agreed that both countries could benefit from sharing their experiences in the fishing industry.

President Nasheed said Maldivian fisheries industry could benefit from Iceland’s experience in practices and fishing technologies and Minister Bjarnsason said Iceland wanted to work with small fishing island nation such as the Maldives.

President Nasheed and Icelandic President Ólafur Grímsson visited Iceland’s Marine Research Institute, where President Nasheed was briefed on marine research and mechanisms to monitor and control fishing activities.

President Nasheed then met with Minister Skarphéðinsson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where they discussed ways of further strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.

They mainly focused on the areas of fishing, renewable energy and climate change adaptation.


Climate skepticism a “diabolical conspiracy” says Nasheed

President Mohamed Nasheed launched a vigorous assault on the current wave of climate change skepticism during his address at the Freie Universität in Berlin.

“In my mind there is a diabolical conspiracy to cloud the scientific evidence behind climate change,” he said. “The science is very clear and sorted, but there are vested interests trying to cloud the issue.”

The president was particularly critical of the hacked emails from the Climate Change Unit at the University of East Anglia, which he argued “make no material difference to the fact climate change is happening.”

“It is now so necessary to find out who distributed the emails, who hacked it, where they are placed, how the emails made the rounds, and how they became newspaper headlines. Where is the investigative journalism on the criminal element of it all?” he asked.

“And why are the emails such a big issue when there is no substance in them? I’ve read them all and they don’t add up. I believe there is a conspiracy, and I believe responsible journalists should think about who is behind this, who is this devil?”

Nasheed was also critical of the coverage surrounding inaccuracies in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which consolidates much of the accepted climate change science.

“Any report can have factual errors but that does not make any substantial difference to the facts,” he said. “Even if one page of a 1000 page report [is problematic], you cannot then deny the other 999 pages.”

He accused the media of being complicit in the loss of momentum around climate change following the lacklustre Copenhagen Accord, claiming that continual reference to the email scandal and mistakes in the IPCC report in articles on climate change was “clouding the issue and creating doubt in the general public.”

“We have to get rid of the perception that there something wrong with the science, and we need to pick up the momentum we had at Copenhagen,” Nasheed urged.

“Icecaps are melting, sea levels are rising, the weather is unpredictable, and rain and fish do not appearing at the same time they used to. European friends tell me they have experienced the coldest winter in the last 20-25 years, and by summer I predict they will be saying they’ve had the hottest summer in the last 30 years. We should not doubt the science in front of us – please visit the Maldives and have a look what happening to our beaches, our coral reefs and our oceans. There is no doubt.”