Government targets generating 30 percent of electricity from renewable sources

The government has announced a five-year target to generate 30 percent of electricity used during daylight hours in the 196 inhabited islands of the Maldives from renewable energy sources.

Briefing the press today on the UN Climate Summit 2014 held yesterday, Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim that efforts were already underway to install solar panels in some islands such as Thinadhoo in Gaaf Dhaal atoll.

“Electricity will be provided from solar panels in Dhaal Kudahuvadhoo, Raa Ungoofaru and Kaafu Dhiffushi very soon. Work is underway in an additional five islands,” the minister was quoted as saying by newspaper Haveeru.

The government was in the process of formulating a low carbon energy policy, he said.

Referring to the impact of climate change on the Maldives, Thoriq noted that 116 islands were facing beach erosion, with severe erosion in 64 islands.

Coastal protection projects have been undertaken in several islands, he added.


Environment minister meets delegation from Chinese State Oceanic Administration

Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim met a delegation from the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) of China to discuss a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on marine cooperation on oceanographic research.

“This memorandum considers that cooperation on oceanographic research can strengthen the existing friendly relations between the two countries, and make due contribution to ocean development and conservation as well as social and economic development of both countries and can recognise the role of ocean in climate change, and the common concerns of the parties on oceanographic observation, investigation, scientific research and marine resources’ conservation, management and sustainable uses and wishes to establish closer relations between the marine agencies and personnel of the parties,” the environment ministry explained in a statement.

“The Parties will undertake joint collaborative research activities in the field of oceanography to improve the understanding on the nature of ocean, and strengthen the capability of marine environmental protection, marine hazards mitigation, and adaptation to climate change.”

The MOU was signed at a ceremony held at the President’s Office this morning.


Environment minister meets World Bank mission

Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim met officials of a visiting World Bank mission yesterday to discuss implementation of climate change projects.

According to the ministry, discussions focused on preparation of the Climate Resilience and Environment Sustainability (CRES) Project under the second phase of the Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund (CCTF) as well as the fifth implementation support mission for the Wetlands Conservation and Corel Reef Monitoring for Adaptation to Climate Change (WCCM) project under the first phase of the Maldives CCTF.

The World Bank mission also held meetings with officials from the finance ministry, the CCTF Project Management Unit, the fisheries and agriculture ministry, the Marine Research Centre, the Environment Protection Agency, the Local Government Authority and WCCM project consultants.

The activities of the mission included undertaking project preparation on CRES as well as agreeing on the next steps, timelines, and responsibilities for the preparation process with the government of Maldives.

“The Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund is a multi-donor collaboration between the government of Maldives, the European Union, Australian Agency for International Development, the World Bank, and other multinational agencies which was launched in 2012,” explained the ministry.

Meanwhile, appearing for minister’s question time at parliament yesterday, Thoriq revealed that a special project was being planned to tackle water shortages during the dry northeastern monsoon.

The minister said a permanent solution could not be found through the project until 2016.

He noted that the government had to supply water to 82 islands facing shortages last year at a cost of MVR3.9 million (US$252,918). Some 75 islands have faced water shortages so far this year, he added.


Environment minister inaugurates coastal protection project in Raa Maduvvari

Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim inaugurated a coastal protection project on the island of Maduvvari in Raa atoll on Thursday (August 7).

“Under this project a total length of 890 meters of coastal area will be protected in R.Maduvvari,” the ministry explained in a statement.

“This project is contracted to MTCC for MVR33 million from government budget. The government is taking measures of coastal protection in several islands throughout Maldives with the government budget and donor agencies.”

According to the environment ministry, island council members, senior officials from the Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC), and Maduvvari MP Mohamed Ameeth participated in the inauguration ceremony.

In his speech, Thoriq noted that 90 percent of islands in the Maldives was affected by coastal erosion and expressed hope that the successful implementation of the project in Maduvarri would mitigate the impact of erosion.

In July, Vaavu Fulidhoo and Lhaviyani Kurendhoo faced increased coastal erosion caused by ‘Udha’ swell waves during the south-west monsoon season.

Fulidhoo faced the loss of the island’s football stadium while the local graveyard on Kurendhoo was just 15 feet from the encroaching waves.

An official from the Kurendhoo island council told Minivan News at the time that a now- stalled harbour project of the island includes a 309-meter rock revetment, the construction of a 207 meter concrete quay-wall, and a 582 meter rock armour breakwater.

The MVR40 million (US$2.5 million) project was handed over to MTCC in March 2013 and was expected to be completed within a year.

The Environment Protection Agency’s (EPA) Senior Environment Analyst Rifath Naeem meanwhile explained that harbour construction was very likely to be an underlying reason for the increasing number of islands with chronic beach erosion.

Harbour construction could interfere with the natural movement of sand, Naeem said, which forms and sustains islands.

“Sometimes construction of harbours or other development activity could throw off the balance in this system. When the complex dynamics and equilibrium of sand movement are affected by such activity, it could increase accretion or erosion of beaches. What’s happening to the beach of one island could affect that of another island in that same reef,” he said.


Environment Minister Thoriq signs for PPM

Minister of Environment and Energy Thoriq Ibrahim signed for the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) today.

Thoriq had been filling a slot assigned for the Jumhooree Party (JP) under the coalition agreement formed with the PPM during last year’s presidential election.

Following the dissolution of the coalition agreement between the JP and PPM last week, nine political appointees belonging to the JP – including Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim – were dismissed by President Abdulla Yameen, prompting speculation in the media that the three ministers remaining in JP slots would join the ruling party to retain their posts.

Speaking to press after signing his membership form at a ceremony in Muleeage this afternoon, Thoriq said he decided to sign for the PPM to complete the work begun by his ministry after the current administration took office in November last year.

The environment minister assured the public that he would “sincerely” remain behind President Yameen for the next five years and endeavour to develop the country.

Thoriq also denied coming under “any kind of pressure” to sign for the ruling party in the wake of the coalition’s breakup.

In his remarks at the ceremony, President Abdulla Yameen meanwhile praised Thoriq as an “active” and “resourceful person,” welcoming the minister to the party on behalf of PPM Leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the party’s council, parliamentary group and members.

“Welcome to the team. God willing, we are beginning a long-haul journey so welcome aboard,” he said.

Aside from Thoriq, Home Minister Umar Naseer and Economic Development Minister Mohamed Saeed were also appointed to the cabinet as JP political appointees. The pair have however yet to sign for the PPM.

The PPM severed its coalition agreement with the JP following a dispute over the speaker’s post, which was contested by JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim after President Yameen urged the business tycoon to withdraw his candidacy and support a PPM candidate.

President Yameen however told reporters on Sunday (June 1) that the PPM was still willing to work with the former coalition partner and professed “respect” for Gasim.

Yameen noted that three cabinet ministers as well as board members of state-owned enterprises occupying JP slots remained in the government.

He also denied pressuring the JP members to sign for the ruling party to retain their government jobs, adding that it was “up to them to decide” how best to serve the nation.