With the conclusion of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has arrived back in Velana International Airport in the Maldives this morning, having departed from JFK International Airport, USA yesterday.
Not only was the visit President Ibrahim Solih’s first to the UNGA, but it was also the first by any Maldivian Head of State in over seven years. His presence at the UNGA was a powerful reaffirmation of the end of the Maldives’ brief period of self-imposed isolationism—a symbolic gesture that the revival of the democracy at home announces a clear commitment to an open and engaged foreign policy abroad. The President also made announcements on the world stage that further asserted the nation’s commitment to several pressing global issues and brought the Maldives to the forefront of international discussion, such as as the ambitious plan to phase out single-use plastics by the year 2023 and the exceptionally well-received Maldives’ ‘Climate Smart Resilient Island’ initiative.
At his maiden address at this year’s General Debate, the President clearly articulated the Maldives’ foreign policy priorities and expectations of the international community. He reiterated the Maldives’ commitment to multilateral engagement and broadening the scope of international friendships; the resolve to win the fight against terrorism; and the keenness to work with neighbours in the Indian Ocean towards greater regional integration. He noted the Maldives’ democratic revival with pride and called on his peers to fulfil their responsibilities to effectively meet the pressing issues of our times: from ensuring peace in the Levant, in line with the Maldives’ longstanding commitment to the Palestinian cause, to taking urgent action on behalf of the Climate.
Reassuming the Maldives’ role as a global environmental champion the President outlined several initiatives by his administration to lead by example. In light of the environmental and human security risks posed by increasing plastic waste, the President announced at the general debate statement that the Maldives aims to nationally eliminate single-use plastic by the year 2023. Further, he announced in New York City the commencement of a formal partnership between the Maldives’ Government and Parley for the Oceans, an organisation singularly dedicated to the battle against plastics.
At the Climate Action Summit, the President presented to the World, the Maldives’ ‘Climate Smart Resilient Island’ initiative that was shaped in concert with fellow AOSIS members and other Small Island States. This model focuses on achieving environment-related targets in eleven key areas, including the designation of environmentally protected areas; installation of new technology; establishing inter-island connectivity; safeguarding food and water security; promoting green tourism; ensuring climate-resilient infrastructure; transitioning to renewable energy; and sustainable waste management, among others. It is to serve as a sustainable and replicable model for other small island states.
Further, at the High-level Review of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway Multi-Stakeholder Conference, the President reiterated the Maldives’ commitment to meeting our Sustainable Development Goals and working alongside other island nations for environmental resilience.
Whilst at the United Nations, the President also met with world leaders and senior dignitaries on the sidelines for several highly successful meetings, including with Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi; the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres; and the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Dr Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz Al-Assaf. In each of these meetings the President repeatedly affirmed the nation’s willingness to positively engage on issues of mutual importance, whilst echoing the calls for multilateralism he made in his address to the Assembly, during which he emphasised that the world needs ‘the United Nations’ more than ever to realistically resolve global challenges whilst preserving international peace and security.
Marking a successful conclusion to his first visit, the President’s actions and statements in New York made clear that the Maldives wants to be a part of preserving that order, putting our best foot forward in the international arena as we implement a transformative domestic agenda at home.
Immediately upon arrival, the President visited the location of the Henveriu Fire incident, which occurred on the 20th of September, to assess the situation.