25 May 2024, 17:42

Low-lying Maldives seeks easier funding to battle waves

MALÉ, Maldives, May 25, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - The Maldives on Saturday demanded
international funding to battle rising sea levels, saying the low-lying
Indian Ocean archipelago was being unfairly excluded from the most generous
support measures.

"The Maldives is liable for just 0.003 percent of global emissions, but is
one of the first countries to endure the existential consequences of the
climate crisis," President Mohamed Muizzu wrote in Britain's Guardian

"Wealthier nations have a moral responsibility to communities like ours."

His comments came ahead of a once-a-decade conference of Small Island
Developing States (SIDS) -- many of them known as luxury tourism destinations
but threatened by rising sea levels -- he will co-chair in Antigua and
Barbuda, which opens Monday.

SIDS receive "only about 14 percent of the finance that the least developed
countries receive", he said.

According to the IMF, the Maldives has a higher GDP per capita than Chile,
Mexico, Malaysia or China, but Muizzu called gross domestic product a "legacy

"Thanks to the Maldives' healthy tourism industry, we are ranked as an
emerging economy and therefore shut out from the cheaper financing set aside
for the lowest income countries."

Muizzu has said that his country needs about $500 million to mitigate the
effects of climate change and the tourism-dependent economy was unable to
raise the money on its own.

The first SIDS meeting was in 1994, five years after Maldives' then-president
Maumoon Abdul Gayoom warned that his atoll nation of 1,192 tiny coral islets
faced extinction if sea levels rose by a metre (3.3 feet).

Gayoom successfully initiated a land reclamation to build an artificial
island two metres above sea level and twice the size of his congested two-
square-kilometre (0.8-square-mile) capital island Male.

Muizzu, who was elected in September, has unveiled plans for a bigger man-
made island with 30,000 apartments, "Ras Male", to battle rising waves.

But the project was not eligible for climate funding as it was classed as
infrastructure work, he lamented.

Muizzu is seen as pro-Beijing and according to government officials, much of
the construction work is expected to be carried out by Chinese firms.


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