Vice President Faisal Naseem, Honourable Deputy Speaker, Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen.
Good Morning to you all.
I welcome you all to the Maldives Partnership Forum. For those who have traveled here from afar, I trust that this beautiful island setting has proved some compensation and has also helped to refresh you in anticipation of the sessions to follow.
This forum represents the largest multilateral gathering to have occurred in the Maldives in quite some time. This is because we are determined to demonstrate our desire to engage with our international partners, as we work to fulfil our pledges to the Maldivian people.
Ladies and gentlemen,
‘Jazeera Raajje’ is our promise to the Maldivian people. It defies easy summary but let me try to elaborate. The underlying sentiment is that the Maldives, being an island nation, has been blessed with unique natural resources, that have greatly influenced our way of life, shaped our identity, and the way we choose to develop.
It is now becoming more apparent that this development must occur in harmony with our resources to ensure the very existence of the Maldives, and allow us to continue to enjoy our prosperous livelihoods which are so dependent on these factors.
The Maldives boasts a young, enterprising population, eager to embrace innovation, technology, and urban development. But in the age of the anthropocene, the world and the Maldives is learning that we cannot sacrifice our natural foundations for short term developmental gains. As such, my administration’s manifesto and policies are a reflection of these sentiments.
Despite the many strides made by the Maldives within a very short timeframe, it is evident that Maldives has still not reached its full potential and more importantly, that the benefits of this development has not reached all Maldivians.
We depend on our beautiful natural environment for our livelihoods, and yet we remain extremely vulnerable to these forces of nature.
With climate change has come an increasing number of costly and damaging natural disasters; our dependence on imported fossil fuel and food sources leave us at the mercy of fluctuating global supply and prices. Our industries and young population depend very much on good governance.
Which is why ‘Jazeera Raajje’, highlights the importance of sustainability and building resilience. Resilience across all aspects of the Maldives – to withstand the impacts of climate change, the challenges of political instability, and global issues such as gender inequality, corruption and violent extremism.
In light of the challenges and the recent history of the Maldives, the mandate given to me by the people of the Maldives is not one I take lightly. Maldivians want justice, equitable development so that they do not have to travel far from their homes for basic services, public facilities and institutions that meet the best standards, and an accountable Government.
In terms of sustainable development, and building resilience, we turn towards the policies of our Blue Economy. Our priorities include reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, investing in waste management, safe water and sanitation, providing young people the skills and support to contribute to our economic growth, and improving our governance mechanisms to be innovative and aligned with technological advancements. More importantly, we realize that the fruits of our labor must be equitable, across our entire society.
It is high time that we confronted ourselves with the great injustice we have done to those who hail from islands outside of the greater Male’ region, who have not been the beneficiaries of the same level of development, nor provided the same basic resources or accorded the same level of priority in policymaking circles.
For decades, people in the outer islands have had to travel to Male’ to meet their basic needs, including for health and education, contributing to an urban crisis in the capital that if left unaddressed will prove difficult to resolve.
The Government’s decentralization policy is intended to rectify this. We believe that economic development and the provision of basic services should encompass the entire breadth of the country. Further, we believe that local communities are the best judges of how their own atolls and islands should be developed.
We work closely with local councils, and have already committed and begun implementing policies which increase their financial independence.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The enormity of the task before us beckons our honesty. We cannot, in truth, bring about the full promise of ‘Jazeera Raajje’ of our own accord. We need the support and positive engagement of our longstanding development partners, many of whom we have already been co-operating with on multiple areas.
In the presentations to follow, our panelists will guide you through many of our key priority areas, the successes we have achieved so far and the potential areas for cooperation with all our partners.
It is my sincere hope that you will find these briefings informative and help you identify areas in which we can co-operate, as we reembark on our development journey with newfound resolve.