Maldives’ records show 60mm sea-level rise in last 20 years, says Gayoom

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has told the 15th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit that recordings in the Maldives show sea levels rose by 60mm in the last 20 years.

While speaking at the summit today (January 5), Gayoom said that changes to the Maldives’ environment in the last 20 years were concerning and far worse than previously estimated, adding that global warming is one of the biggest problems faced by island nations.

“We are seeing many changes in the environment which were not present when the Millennium Development Goals were set up, small nations like us are concerned about this,” said the former president.

Gayoom has recently called upon leaders of developed nations to allow small island states to lead the world in efforts to combat climate change, with the Maldives recently becoming chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.

This year marks the third time Gayoom has spoken at the Delhi summit, organised by The Energy and Resources Institute, picking up a sustainable development award in 2009.

Source: Haveeru


Development and environment protection should go together, says President Yameen

Economic development and protection of the environment should go in tandem to ensure sustainable development, President Abdulla Yameen has said.

In a message on the occasion of World Environment Day, President Yameen said the Maldives’ environment and ecosystems have been adversely affected by some development efforts.

“Therefore, we have to pay more attention to this. And we have to ensure that development and protection and sustenance of the environment go together. That is how sustainable development can be achieved,” he said.

“Doubtless the development that all our citizens want is intertwined with this.”

The current administration has come under fire from local environmental groups following environmental damage caused by a US$37 million four-island reclamation project carried out by Royal Boskalis Westminster.

The Netherlands-based maritime infrastructure company was accused of mining sand from the country’s only UNESCO biosphere reserve in Baa Atoll as well as failing to build a barrier to prevent excess dredge soil from spilling onto the reef in Baa Atoll Eydhaushi Island.

In the two islands where reclamation was completed, houses and vegetation on the shorelines were also covered in fine mixture of sand and salt due to the use of the “rainbow technique” which propels soil into the air.

Climate change

President Yameen meanwhile referred to the findings of the second working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and called for timely action to address climate change.

“The quantity and quality of water resources are being affected. Climate ‎change is negatively impacting crop yields as well. Impacts from recent climate-‎related extremes reveal significant vulnerabilities and expose some ecosystems ‎and many human systems to current climate vulnerability,” Yameen said.

“At the forefront of ‎those facing the effects of climate change are communities living in the world’s ‎low-lying regions and small island states.”

Referring to the theme of this year’s Environment Day – “Raise Your ‎Voice, Not the Sea Level” – President Yameen welcomed the special focus ‎which will be afforded to small island nation states such as the Maldives.

The president noted that the United Nations has designated 2014 as the ‎International Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDs). ‎

Yameen also paid tribute to the climate change advocacy efforts of of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who he said brought the threats posed by sea level rise to global attention in the late 1980s.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon also emphasised the need to take concrete action to avert climate catastrophe.

A Foreign Ministry press release today said that the minister expressed hope that key international conferences this year would successfully take into account the vulnerability of SIDs.

The Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States will be held in Samoa in September, while the negotiations of a new climate treaty at the Meetings of States Parties of the UNFCCC will also take place in 2014, detailed the release.

The press statement noted that the IPCC’s latest report has “proven that climate change is neither just an environmental issue nor a scientific thesis, but is of a question of the survival of each and every nation around the planet, irrespective of its size.”

“The minister also reiterated that the Maldives continues to be in the front line while refusing to remain a victim, and have been an agent of change in addressing environmental issues,” it added.

“The Maldives is currently in the process of developing a low carbon development strategy which paints a promising picture not only for the nation but the world. Internationally, the Maldives has led efforts to emphasise the links between human rights and climate change, as well as the plight of small states.”

In his message, Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim meanwhile noted that 23 percent of the Maldives’ GDP was spent on importing fossil fuels and stressed the importance of developing sources of renewable energy.

The Environment Ministry commenced its programme to mark the World Environment Day with a tree planting event in front of the Male’ Sports Complex.

Other events planned by the ministry include the publication of reports for energy saving in schools, a photography exhibition, a film festival, and a clean up event in Malé.


“The world needs more political leaders like President Nasheed”:

Global climate justice NGO has reaffirmed that “urgent action is needed to address the climate crisis” in the Maldives, and that its continued active international leadership is “immensely important”.

In light of the IPCC’s findings and the danger sea level rise poses for the Maldives, has highlighted the essential international leadership role former President Mohamed Nasheed and the country have played for achieving climate justice.

“The IPCC’s 5th assessment report largely reaffirms what we already knew, and makes it abundantly clear that urgent action is needed the world-over. It is immensely important the Maldives to continue it’s active, leadership stance to go carbon neutral within a decade and advocate for more international action,” Will Bates, Global Campaigns Director and Co-Founder of told Minivan News.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes’s fifth assessment report emphasised the importance of human influence on the climate change system.

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased,” read the report released last month.

“As the ocean warms, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to rise [during the 21st century], but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years,” said IPCC Working Group 1 Co-Chair, Qin Dahe.

The IPCC’s report “sounds the alarm for immediate action on climate change,” declared

“The report, which is the most authoritative, comprehensive assessment of scientific knowledge on climate change, finds with near certainty that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet and that climate impacts are accelerating… Scientists have upped the certainty that humans are responsible for warming, increasing their confidence to 95%,” highlighted has been building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. It has coordinated over 20,000 climate demonstrations in more than 182 countries since the organisation’s founding in 2008.

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.

“The world needs more political leaders like President Nasheed”:

Bates noted that former President Nasheed has been an integral figure for the global climate justice movement.

“President Nasheed’s courageous and creative actions to confront the true scale of the climate crisis in 2009 and 2010 were a powerful wake-up call for the world. Hearing from an entire nation about the imminent threat to their future through their democratically elected president, and seeing their actions to address the crisis was an inspiration for the rest of the world to step up our efforts to address the climate crisis,” Bates stated.

“The world needs more political leaders like President Nasheed who understand the severity of the threat, and who speak and act truthfully in response,” he added.

The NGO also believes President Nasheed’s leadership within the Maldives has benefited the nation’s domestic climate justice movement.

“I believe it was in part thanks to the openness and freedom given to civil society in general during his administration that allows young people and NGOs to organize on climate change above and beyond what President Nasheed was working on at the national policy and international levels,” said Bates.

“No doubt his efforts to have the Maldives go carbon neutral in a decade was a powerful act of leadership that more governments around the world should be following as well,” he added.

“We support human rights and a free and fair democratic process in the Maldives,” Bates noted in regard to Nasheed’s ongoing domestic efforts to ensure these values are upheld.

Although he emphasised that is not directly involved in Nasheed’s political struggles at home, Bates explained how the non-violent direct action strategy employs can benefit the Maldives in its fight for climate justice as well as democratisation.

“Social movements around the world have proven the power of non-violent direct action as a means of creating change, political and otherwise,” he said.

“President Nasheed’s underwater cabinet meeting in 2009 was a particularly creative form of action, and there are countless ways that different non-violent tactics – from marches and rallies to culture-jamming and online memes – can enhance struggles against climate change as well as for promoting democracy and fair elections,” he continued.

“We’ve seen incredibly creative actions in the Maldives by grassroots activists fighting climate change too and with such international concern for the political situation there, similar tactics could be employed at the current time with great effect,” he added.

Nasheed has often spoken of the close interrelationship between climate change, human rights, and democracy, particularly since his February 7, 2012 controversial transfer of power, and has echoed this belief.

“Human rights and climate justice are very clearly inextricably linked as the climate crisis infringes on people’s access to food, water, health, and general security. Furthermore, the causes of the climate crisis, such as the extraction and burning of fossil fuels and cutting down forests have immense human rights implications. Meanwhile many the solutions, such as more decentralized renewable energy infrastructure, are in many ways a step towards democratizing more of how our world works,” said Bates.

“Although that is not to say that countries that exist with undemocratic systems of government can’t also enact solutions to achieve greater human rights and climate justice,” he added.

Extreme sea level rise threats

“The rate of sea level rise will very likely exceed that observed during 1971–2010 due to increased ocean warming and increased loss of mass from glaciers and ice sheets,” all prospective scenarios in the IPCC’s report projected.

Sea level is expected to rise between 0.26 metres (0.85 feet) and 0.98 metres (3.22 feet) by 2100, depending on the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced this century, it added.

While these projections represent the possible low and high extreme scenarios of sea level rise, small island states – such as the Maldives – are especially vulnerable, the IPCC previously stressed in it’s fourth assessment report.

With over 80 percent of the land area in the Maldives being less than a meter (3.28 feet) above mean sea level, “the slightest rise in sea level will prove extremely threatening,” UNDP Maldives previously declared. “A rise in sea levels by 0.50 meters could see significant portions of the islands being washed away by erosion or being inundated [by the ocean].”

“Even now some islands are seriously affected by loss not only of shoreline but also of houses, schools and other infrastructure,” it continued.

Not only is the Maldives extremely vulnerable to sea level rise, other climate change impacts – including extreme weather events, coral bleaching and acidification – which exacerbate these negative effects, it added.

Earlier this year the World Bank also expressed the urgent need for concerted efforts to support the Maldives in adapting to climate change due to sea level rise projections.

Additionally, the UN’s 2013 global human development report highlighted inequality and climate change vulnerabilities as major concerns for the Maldives, despite the country’s “significant economic growth” in recent years.


Island creation could counteract effect of sea level rise: Nature World News

“The creation of new islands could make up for the loss of land in the Maldives due to sea level rise, a study published in the journal Geology suggests,” reports Tamarra Kemsley for Nature World News.

“Regional island building consists of lagoons filling with sand taken from the surrounding coral reefs. As this happens, plant and animal life take root.

By studying the history and timing of this process throughout the area, researchers concluded that the continued accumulation of sand within the reefs found inside Maldivian atolls offer an opportunity for future island development.

Smaller reefs where the lagoons are nearly filled in, the study showed, are most likely to give way to islands — a process that could happen within 100 years if provided with enough sand.

The findings further suggested that these smaller islands could then grow into structures that could then be inhabited even as sea level rise reduces the land available on other islands.”

Read more


IPCC report to give Maldives date of extinction: Guardian

On Friday 27 September, the low-lying island nation of the Maldives will be given the date of its extinction; notice of a death by drowning, writes Damian Carrington for the Guardian.

It will come in the form of a prediction for future sea-level rise in a landmark report on global warming by the world’s climate scientists. On current trends, anything more than three generations will feel like a reprieve.

On the packed streets of Male’, the mini-Manhattan that serves as the Maldives’ island capital, there is a political clamour. But, perhaps surprisingly, the cause is not worry about the existential threat posed by the rising seas but over accusations of corruption and vote-buying in the presidential election.

Friday’s landmark report on global warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – which is currently being finalised by a meeting of the world’s top climate scientists along with political observers in Stockholm – will set out the extreme precariousness of this position.

For coral reefs, the 800 climate scientists behind the report will be forced to add a new colour – purple – to the top of their range of risk levels to signify how much the dangers have worsened since the last IPCC assessment in 2007.

A significantly higher estimate for future sea-level rise is expected, up to 97cm by 2100, and this poses the most obvious threat to an archipelago where most land is no taller than an 11-year-old child. But rising sea temperatures will also increase coral bleaching and crumbling – where the reef gradually dies because the coloured algae that live within and help to feed the corals are expelled as the water warms.

Read more


World Bank urges climate change adaptation support for the Maldives

The World Bank has expressed the urgent need for concerted efforts to support the Maldives in adapting to climate change, due to a projected 115 centimetres of sea level rise by 2090.

This, in addition to other climate impacts posing “disastrous consequences” for livelihoods and health, were noted in a recently released scientific report that “demands bold action now”.

The World Bank’s 2012 Turn Down the Heat report concluded a 4 degree Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) global temperature increase is expected by the end of the 21st century unless concerted action is taken immediately.

This year’s Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience World Bank report, builds upon those findings to illustrate the range of climate change impacts the developing world is currently experiencing and outlines “an alarming scenario for the days and years ahead – what we could face in our lifetime.”

“This second scientific analysis gives us a more detailed look at how the negative impacts of climate change already in motion could create devastating conditions especially for those least able to adapt. The poorest could increasingly be hit the hardest,” stated World Bank Group President Dr Jim Yong Kim, in the report’s foreword.

“We are determined to work with countries to find solutions,” Kim continued. “But, the science is clear. There can be no substitute for aggressive national mitigation targets, and the burden of emissions reductions lies with a few large economies.”

Based on the report’s findings, the World Bank has highlighted the urgent need for concerted efforts to support the Maldives in adapting to climate change.

As 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.

“The Maldives is one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change impacts and has set best practice examples in adapting to climate change consequences,” stated Ivan Rossignol, World Bank Acting Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

“The World Bank is committed to supporting the government of Maldives. The current situation is beyond intellectual debates on climate change. A concerted effort is needed to act now while we still can make a difference,” said Rossignol.

With the average global temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius expected “in the next decades”, island economies like the Maldives, will be impacted by extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels, the report determined.

“With South Asia close to the equator, the sub-continent would see much higher rises in sea levels than higher latitudes, with the Maldives confronting the biggest increases of between 100-115 centimetres,” the report warned.

The South Asian region is projected to experience a 115 centimetre sea level rise increase by the 2090s in a 4 degree Celsius world, while a 60-80 centimetre increase is expected to occur with two degrees Celsius of warming.

“[However,] the highest values (up to 10 centimeters more) [are] expected for the Maldives. This is generally around 5–10 percent higher than the global mean.” There is a 66 percent change sea level rise will exceed 50 centimeters by the 2060s, noted the report.

In addition to sea level rise, the compounded impacts of increased temperatures and extremes of heat, increased intensity of extreme weather events (including flooding and tropical cyclones), and changes in the monsoon pattern are already occurring and are anticipated to worsen, according to the study.

This will strain already vulnerable water resources, crop yields, and energy security in the Maldives, as well as the South Asian region, the report highlighted.

“Disturbances to the monsoon system and rising peak temperatures put water and food resources at severe risk. An extreme wet monsoon, which currently has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years, is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century,” stated the study.

“The consequences on livelihoods and health [in the Maldives] could be disastrous… Even at present warming of 0.8°C above pre-industrial levels, the observed climate change impacts are serious and indicate how dramatically human activity can alter the natural environment upon which human life depends,” it continues.

“The risks to health associated with inadequate nutrition or unsafe drinking water are significant: childhood stunting, transmission of waterborne diseases, and hypertension and other disorders associated with excess salinity [due to saltwater intrusion from sea level rise],” the report noted. “Other health threats are also associated with flooding, heat waves, tropical cyclones, and other extreme events.”

“[Meanwhile,] dense urban populations [such as the Maldives’ capital Male’] would be especially vulnerable to heat extremes, flooding, and disease,” according to the study’s findings.

The report also warns of the potential “domino effect” climate impacts can create that ultimately affect human development, such as the decimation of coral reefs creating cascading impacts on local livelihoods, and tourism.

Climate change impacts may also increase the likelihood of conflicts occurring, according to the study.

Ultimately, climate change impacts – particularly sea level rise – may force Maldivians to migrate, which “can be seen as a form of adaptation and an appropriate response to a variety of local environmental pressures”.

“The potential for migration, including permanent relocation, is expected to be heightened by climate change, and particularly by sea-level rise and erosion,” the report stated. However, it cautioned that population relocation poses “a whole set of other risks”.

New technological solutions and international cooperation are a must to adapt to and change the current trajectory of climate change impacts on growth and poverty reduction efforts, the study concluded.

“I hope this report will help convince everyone that the benefits of strong, early action on climate change far outweigh the costs,” said World Bank Group President Dr Jim Yong Kim.

“This report demands action. It reinforces the fact that climate change is a fundamental threat to economic development and the fight against poverty,” declared Kim.


Bangladesh-Maldives sand deal shelved: Business Standard

A deal in the pipeline last year between the Maldives and Bangladesh to ship sand from Bangladeshi rivers to increase the land level of Maldivian islands in anticipation of sea-level rise appears to have been shelved, according to a report by Business Standard.

“I don’t think the plan is still there. They wanted to export sand to up the land level in defence against rising sea level. We had asked them to dredge and take the sand from our rivers, but they never came back with a complete proposal. I do not think that Maldives has such technical expertise,” Ghulam Muhammed Quader, Bangladesh commerce minister was quoted as saying.

The plan was reportedly conceptualised during a meeting between former President Mohamed Nasheed and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed in 2010.

“Even if, Maldives was willing, there were some pros and cons for the project as it involved environmental issues too,” Quader added.


Silicon Valley joins the Maldives on sea level rise threat list: Forbes

Silicon Valley, home to some of the world’s most prominent software groups and tech innovators, is joining the Maldives in trying to battle a potential rise in sea levels that could threaten to submerge both locations.

Writing for Forbes, Anthony Wing Kosner points to a new US$1 billion, 10 year fund raising plan launched Thursday by US Business Leaders and Senator Dianne Feinstein to try and prevent the California headquarters of Silicon Valley giants like Facebook from being submerged.

That $1 Billion that Facebook just paid for Instagram could have paid for updating the levees and restoring the wetlands in the drained former site of San Francisco Bay that is now Silicon Valley, home to Facebook, Google and billions of dollars of real estate. That the Valley has joined the Maldives (with somewhat less urgency) on the list of those threatened by potential sea level rise is actually a good thing.

Whether through floating architecture, alternative energy, better storm prediction or any number of other innovations, the future of humanity on earth is relying on the brain power of places like Silicon Valley to solve the problems caused by the planet’s increasing use of energy. The tech companies could move to higher ground, of course, an option not available in the Maldives, but the geographical web of social connections is so intense in the Valley that there are strong reasons to persist.

Read more


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.”