Minister of Higher Education Dr. Ibrahim Hassan, Vice Chancellor of the Maldives National University, Mohamed Shareef,
Project partners of the PROMISE Project, Project officials from MNU,
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen;
And a very good evening to you all,
Let me begin today by wishing you all a happy World Ocean Day. Our oceans are our biggest asset. They provide us food, water and revenue through fisheries and tourism. Our oceans are also an asset to the world. They play an important role in generating the oxygen we breathe and regulates global temperature and climate. It is our responsibility to protect our oceans. By protecting our oceans we are protecting our livelihoods, our climate and the future of our children.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we would all agree, one of the biggest threats to our oceans is pollution. Waste collected at coastal mounds seep into the waters, threatening our reefs, lagoons and even the open ocean. Plastics and other harmful compounds contaminate marine eco-systems and food chains, and have started making their way back to our bodies in the form of micro-plastics in the seafood we eat. It is now common to see pictures and videos of those endangered species being trapped in plastic bags, or of fisher-folk finding plastic bottles inside of marine life. Our oceans are home to microplastics that have the potential to severely impact marine life and threaten our livelihoods.
This is not something that happened overnight. This is a result of years of poor waste management and lack of awareness within our community. It is also a result of limited land space, resources and numerous logistical difficulties in managing the waste. Addressing this issue requires bold and innovative solutions. This administration continues to take bold and effective measures to tackle this issue.
It was just last week that we started segregating waste that is collected in the greater Male’ region. I am pleased to note that the general public has been very supportive in this initiative. The segregated waste will allow for better waste management and less leakage into our ecosystem. By segregating waste and being more mindful of the waste we create, we are demonstrating to our children how to be better stewards of the environment. This will surely have a lasting impact on the health of our oceans. We are starting to show our children that the waste we produce has the potential to be a resource that generates energy or income.
In addition to better waste management, we must also work on reducing the amount of waste we produce as a nation. In 2019 alone, 143 million plastic bottles were produced locally to bottle water and soft drinks. I am happy to note that, we now have a national plan to phase out single-use plastics by 2023, one that promises a sustainable solution to the issue of marine litter. A large portion of our nation still continues to buy water for our daily consumption that comes in plastic bottles. Where possible, it is important to install water filtration systems to reduce the amount of plastic generated in households. I have started using this system and drink filtered water now, and I really enjoy it.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we celebrate World Ocean Day, let us all remind ourselves of our individual responsibility to be better stewards of our environment and oceans. And let us also celebrate those that adopt bold and innovative measures of tackling such complex issues and inspire all of us.
I am especially pleased to be a part of tonight’s celebration of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the tourism industry in the Maldives, Sri-Lanka and India that have employed innovative waste management solutions. You have successfully demonstrated that the most important tool in addressing this issue, is passion and will. You are also at the forefront of coming up with innovative solutions to the issue of tourism-related waste, which is one of the biggest source of waste in the tourism-reliant economies such as ours. I would like to congratulate the winners of the Promise Sustainability Award tonight for their hard work towards ensuring the health of the Lakshadweep Sea. Congratulations!
I would like to thank Project PROMISE for the work they are doing in guiding micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in building best waste management practices to protect our oceans. I hope we can build on this to inspire more and more enterprises to adopt innovative solutions to waste management, and are able to safeguard our oceans better.