Chancellor of the Maldives National University, Dr Hassan Hameed; honourable ministers; vice chancellor; excellencies; director of the programme; delegates; distinguished guests; staff of the Maldives National University; and students;
And a very good morning to you all.
It is my pleasure and privilege to welcome the esteemed delegates from the United Kingdom and all eight South Asian countries who are here today to attend this important regional meeting of the "South Asian Nitrogen Hub" (SANH) in the Maldives.
As was highlighted, the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) South Asian Nitrogen Hub Project is a partnership that brings together 32 leading research organisations with project partners from the UK and eight countries in South Asia; India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
I want to acknowledge South Asian Nitrogen Hub’s assistance and expert input to overcome this nitrogen challenge that we are facing today. I also highlight the admirable efforts by the Maldives National University in leading this programme in the Maldives in collaboration with the stakeholders.
The pandemic has left us with lots of lessons. It has taught us that we need national, regional, and global solutions to mitigate environmental risks and climate change. As other speakers have highlighted, we cannot talk about development, peace, prosperity, and security without addressing today's environmental challenges. This forum will be an important platform to deliberate on these issues from an academic, research-based perspective.
Therefore, I would like to commend the South Asian Nitrogen Hub project leads and the participating institutions for your dedication and commitment in initiating this project and prioritising the issue of tackling the nitrogen challenge and managing nitrogen in the South Asia region. It strongly indicates your dedication and love for the environment and to collaboratively work towards a healthier planet.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Maldives is not only unique for it white sandy beaches, coral reef lagoons and low-lying islands. But, it is very much unique in terms of its geography and fragile environment. Maldives is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. All aspects of the environment—including water, land and air—are under pressure and adversely impacted and declining.
The negative impacts on the environment have continuously threatened the country's economy, industries, businesses and every individual. It also affects the health and well-being of our communities.
We have witnessed today the launch of the Maldives’ Country Report, which provides a comprehensive overview of the nitrogen status in the country and outlines the steps to take to manage nitrogen effectively. The report highlights priority sectors to be addressed. These include transport, energy, waste management, water management, and agriculture.
Going forward, it would be essential to specify nitrogen emission reduction targets in policy instruments and sector plans and to ensure the effective implementation of these plans in this endeavour for a healthier planet.
I acknowledge the sustainable nitrogen management requires further assessments of this, and of the status. It also requires targeted strategic actions at the national and local levels in collaboration and cooperation between institutions, businesses and communities.
The Massive Open Learning Introductory Course on Nitrogen launched today will provide an avenue for all stakeholders in the Maldives and to become aware of the nitrogen challenges here in the Maldives.
South Asia is home to more than two billion people, and the population is expected to double by 2050. Similarly, fertiliser inputs have been projected to double to give South Asia the highest nitrogen inputs in the world by 2050.
Added to this are food security, environmental, and developmental challenges. Given the scale and outlook, South Asia must prioritise addressing the global nitrogen challenge.
Hence, it is very timely that 32 institutions in South Asia are working collaboratively with UKRI-GCRF to address the nitrogen challenge through research, debates, discussions and sharing information among the institutions and to the policymakers of all South Asian countries globally.
I want to reiterate the Maldives' commitment to the global environmental agenda and to collaborate with the South Asian Nitrogen Hub to develop informed policies on nitrogen management in the Maldives. I believe that the South Asian Nitrogen Hub is the start of this new momentum in our efforts to tackle the nitrogen challenges in our region.
I wish you all a fruitful meeting and an enjoyable stay here in this beautiful country.
Thank you and,