BBC World Service Radio: 3.40 GMT. The President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed has been working on a novel plan to save his island nation from disappearing under water.
President Nasheed: The bottom line is that we are looking for dry land in the doomsday scenario - in the eventuality, unforeseen eventuality, of that happening. Now basically as a responsible politician, we do have to set up structures, we do have to set up processes that can be used by future generations. So therefore, in a sense, the idea is that we start the debate; we start the process now and see how far we could go from here.
BBC World Service Radio: How many people are in the Maldives?
President Nasheed: Three hundred thousand.
BBC World Service Radio: Three hundred thousand? And you got any idea where? They would move en masse. This is the idea, like a…
President Nasheed: Basically the concept is this. Look, we have to have dry land and so everyone should understand that if we sink then we would have to somewhere else. Before that eventuality we want to set up a form, a structure where it can, how it can work out.
BBC World Service Radio: Sure. It really is underway. I mean, I just wander where you might, where all these people might go. What are the options?
President Nasheed: We have to give people the options. I shouldn’t come out and tell them…
BBC World Service Radio: Okay. So you are not going to move as the nation and try and get a whole area of land and say, okay, we can set up here and this can also be called the New Maldives.
President Nasheed: Yeah. Ideally that would have to be the situation. Come on, we don’t want to loose our self as a nation, with loosing nationhood. You know…
BBC World Service Radio: And you said doomsday scenario. So this is what, many decades? What are the scientists saying about the rising sea level?
President Nasheed: Well, they are talking about 70 to 100 years.
BBC World Service Radio: And all the islands will be gone? And there are in the hundreds.
President Nasheed: But if the science, if we don’t do anything now, the thing is we can do something now and avoid these kinds of unfortunate eventualities.
BBC World Service Radio: Okay. One of the things you want to do is this carbon neutral idea and converting how you get energy. Just explain a little bit.
President Nasheed: Basically right now, Kyoto Protocol and everything is based around not doing things. You are asking nations not to do this, not to do that. Instead of that, what we are suggesting is why don’t we think about ways of doing things – which is renewable energy. We feel that renewable energy is viable and it’s financially feasible, and therefore, you know, countries should go into that.
BBC World Service Radio: Not a problem with the Maldives – with sun and waves and wind, it’s obvious.
President Nasheed: Well, yeah. We have a lot of resources. And there is no point in us importing natural resources from other countries. And also while I feel that renewable energy is financially feasible, we are on the brink of a breakthrough, I am sure. There’s been so much investments into renewable energy. So just in the next few years we would see real good alternative renewable solutions.
BBC World Service Radio: Some skeptics say, you know, the Maldives has been talking a long time about disappearing under the waves for decades and nothing has happened and no island has yet, I believe, gone under. So is it just a lot of hot air, if I can say that about very little, that actually the sea levels aren’t changing. Is there proof that they are changing?
President Nasheed: There is lot erosion happening in the Maldives. We’ve had to evacuate some of the islands. This is real and you have to be in the Maldives to see that this is real. If you go and say this to the people of Maduvvari, for instance, this island wouldn’t believe you. They have to move homes, they have to build revetments, they have to build water breakers, they have to go into reclamation, and many adaptation programs.
BBC World Service Radio: Okay. A while ago you said you were going to get rid of you yacht. Is that right?
President Nasheed: Yes. I mean, we don’t need that. We could do without all that luxury yachts and palaces and things like that. You know, it’s just a simple thing to govern and just you do it simply.
BBC World Service Radio: Is this you approach? I mean, obviously you are very different to your predecessor. In fact he jailed you as we know. But I mean, you want to be what – a man of the people? It is a different approach.
President Nasheed: Well, I want to be a realistic person. I want to be able to work within the means of our own country. We have to do with what we earn.
BBC World Service Radio: Actually a yacht might be a good idea to escape a sinking island. Anyway, that was the President of the Maldives speaking to me when he came to London to visit the Queen.