Distinguished Heads of States and Governments;
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentleman;
This is the era of the Anthropocene. The major determinant in climate health and the earth’s well-being is human activity. It is up to us whether we harness our scientific knowledge and technology for destructive ends, which bring short-term profit, or if we use them to implement sustainable and restorative development strategies.
Last year I presented our Climate Resilient Island initiative to the international community, showcasing a model that can be used by other Small Island States to develop sustainably, by conserving eco-rich areas, phasing-out single-use plastics, and rapidly transiting to renewable energy.
We have also joined with international non-governmental entities such as the Blue Prosperity Coalition, a global alliance of ocean experts dedicated to growing blue economies and preserving the ocean’s health. The scientific expeditions that they have begun countrywide will assist our maritime spatial planning by assessing our oceans to identify areas best suited to ensure sustainable growth in our blue economies.
The Maldives is deeply concerned by plastic pollution. We are founder and co-chair of the Group of Friends to Combat Marine Plastic Pollution. At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, and make up 80 percent of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea sediments. Through collective efforts to combat plastic pollution, the Group of Friends to Combat Marine Plastic Pollution will continue to work collectively to develop a strategy for global engagement at the United Nations Headquarters and raise awareness of marine plastic pollution. At home I have pledged to phase out single-use plastic by the year 2023.
To preserve our ecosystems, we have committed to designate at least one island, one reef and one mangrove, in each of our atolls as protected areas. Some of these are now eligible to be listed as UNESCO world heritage sites. We have also prioritized reforming our waste management systems and increasing our use of renewables.
We are now living the consequences of our constant disrespect towards nature. It is a zoonotic disease, Covid-19, that has caused this pandemic and brought the world to a standstill. If we continue to disrespect the boundaries of the natural world, we will face similar - and possibly worse - consequences. Let us keep that in mind as we build back our communities, economies and institutions from the disease’s impacts. Let us do right by our earth.