The Maldives is arguably one of the most beautiful spots in the world, but it faces a growing problem from climate change and rising sea levels that threaten to ‘sink’ the entire country. But this little archipelago is sure not to go down without a fight, and has come up with a number of ingenious sustainable solutions to help preserve its unique environment.
Standing just two meters above sea level, the Maldives would possibly be the first country to disappear if waters were to rise, despite the fact that it itself only contributes minimally to climate change. The ex-President of the archipelago nation, Mohamed Nasheed, recently said that ‘if carbon emissions continue at the rate they are climbing today, my country will be underwater in seven years.’
‘The Maldives is on the climate change front line. But what happens in the Maldives today happens to the rest of the world tomorrow. We need to help steer the world towards the carbon neutral path and the Maldives aims to set a global example by embracing low-carbon development.’
Back in 2009, President Nasheed made headlines around the world by organising and conducting the world’s first ever underwater cabinet meeting – a publicity stunt aimed at drawing people’s attention to the plight of his nation in the face of climate change. Nasheed, along with 11 cabinet ministers all decked out in scuba gear, held a meeting 4m underwater on one of the country’s most famous coral reefs. Now that’s a way to get people’s attention!
In the same year, President Nasheed announced that the Maldives would go carbon-neutral by 2020 and stop using fossil fuels altogether. Since this decision was made four years ago a number of initiatives have been set up to help achieve this goal, including the Maldivian Youth Climate Network, a grassroots organisation empowering the next generation to tackle climate change.
Tourism – the country’s main source of income – also follows a strictly sustainable model in the Maldives, with each self-contained resort having to generate its own electricity and dispose of its own waste. The tourism board also manages the activities of visitors to the island, ensuring that the numbers of snorkelers and divers are not having an adverse effect on the flora and fauna around them.
The country continues to lead the way in pioneering new and ingenious solutions to the problem of climate change such as underwater gardening – ‘planting’ coral as a natural defence against rising sea levels. Tourists can now partake in some hands on eco-tourism through schemes such as Mangroves for the Future, and get involved in helping to stop beach and coral erosion while getting a holiday tan.
The Maldives are a great example of how a small and seemingly insignificant country can make a real impact on the environment around them by investing in sustainable solutions for the future. Let’s just hope they can be a beacon for other countries around the world and lead the way in combating climate change!
What do you think of the way the Maldives are tackling climate change? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @Nokia_Connects with the hashtag #NokiaSustainabilityWeek