Excellencies, Distinguished Representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to extend my thanks for your participation in this conference, and for all the goodwill and constructive support you have shown.
This government faces major challenges in a period of transition, consolidating our fragile democracy and stabilising the economy at the same time as delivering the social development our people so desperately need.
You have heard about many of the challenges over the past two days. The fact that drug abuse is a huge problem among the young. The fact that access to clean water is still a challenge on many islands. The fact that reducing a soaring budget deficit has meant painful spending cuts in an economy over-dependent on government expenditure.
I know that you as donors and international partners are helping us with these challenges. I view your participation here and your commitments as a welcome vote of confidence for this government and our strong democratic mandate.
We were elected by the people on the basis of a series of key pledges and to bring social change and democratic reform to a country reeling from the impact of economic mismanagement, authoritarianism and the global recession.
No reform is possible without an underlying commitment to fiscal responsibility and macroeconomic stability. We need to demonstrate to you as donors our determination to ensure good governance across all policy areas, and working increasingly through the private rather than the public sector to deliver these important outcomes.
And we welcome many of your statements of support over the last two days, which have been especially encouraging.
As the President mentioned in his opening address, democracy remains fragile in the Maldives. We must work to broaden civil society and to protect the freedom of the press. We support the democratic right and duty of the people to hold us accountable. We must work hard to consolidate our hard-won freedoms. Much progress has been made, but more work needs to be carried out.
This is where you come in. We cannot deliver these vital things on our own.
We need your support and assistance, and I am grateful for the confidence you have shown in our country. This conference has been an important opportunity for us to listen to donors’ views, and we have identified ways to improve our coordination and cooperation with the donor community and identify ways to strengthen cooperation on an ongoing basis.
We are especially delighted with pledges made so far. Donors have pledged US$313 million to the Maldives over the next three years – an outstanding amount.
I know the Maldives has made headlines around the world less for our social and economic challenges and more for our commitment to confronting the issue of climate change.
Our commitment to carbon neutrality is the strongest mitigation target in the world and we need your help to achieve this. We must ensure that we are not the world’s only carbon neutral nation, but that we solve this problem internationally with other climate leaders like the EU and Japan.
The president worked very hard at Copenhagen, and last week we participated in a follow-up meeting of progressive countries in Colombia to drive forward the ambitious mitigation agenda at an international level. We will be retaining our international leadership on this issue, by hosting the next meeting of progressive countries here in Male’ in July, with an eye on getting the best outcome from the upcoming COP 16 in Cancun.
Although we are a very vulnerable country to sea level rise I should make clear that we are not going anywhere: we believe we can act internationally and domestically to ensure indefinitely that the Maldives continues to exist, and that our development needs and priorities – from infrastructure to education of the next generation – are always met.
Your participation and pledges have demonstrated your great commitment to helping us meet all these challenges. I believe there is an abundance of goodwill and more assistance will be forthcoming with more follow up from our side. We will also develop a complete and aid effectiveness strategy.
I thank you once again and hope you have enjoyed your time with us.