Published on : Tuesday, March 7, 2017
The Maldives, under its new president Abdulla Yameen, apparently changed environmental approach, saying that mass tourism and mega-developments rather than solar power and carbon neutrality would enable it to adapt itself to climate change and give its young population hope for the future. But what happens there may be only the start of the Maldives’ transformation from an Indian ocean backwater with green political ideals to what politicians hope will be a “smart” country with a new capital city, high-tech centres, economic free zones and foreign universities to attract the global elite.
Nearly one in three of the country’s 185 inhabited islands may have to be abandoned with thousands of people relocated to larger islands which can offer schools and health clinics as well as fresh water and waste facilities. Plans to increase tourism from 1.3 million people a year to more than seven million within 10 years were backed by Shiham Adam, director of the government’s Marine Research Centre. To quote Adam, “Tourism and resorts may be the saviour of the Maldives. People are investing massive amounts of money. They are not idiots. You can build an island in four weeks with suction dredgers, and put boulders around it in a few more. The Maldives needs money to survive. Resorts are very positive for the environment. They offer better protection than community islands because they must protect at least 700m all around them. They become mini marine reserves.” To quote Adam once again, “We are seeing weather patterns change.
The dry season is longer, there are rainwater shortages. Now we are getting higher winds and waves. There is more salt water intrusion. Farming and fishing is affected. But climate change is just one problem we face. The most pressing issues are water and sanitation, waste and coastal protection. Only 31 of the Maldives’ inhabited islands have a proper sewerage system. Only six have a waste system. Now is the time for action, not promises and empty words.”
Tags: Maldives resorts