بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
الحمد لله ربّ العَـالمين. والصّلاة والسّـلام على محمّد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعـين.
The Honourable Minister of Housing and Environment Mr. Mohamed Aslam, heads of various government agencies, representative of Group FIT Mr. Olivier Deloumeau, Ms. Martinez representing the French embassy, distinguished colleagues from various French agencies, ladies and gentlemen.
Today we mark a very important milestone in our work towards climate change adaptation. I’m extremely happy that this project has come to a point where we have some very concrete data that will inform us and assist us in moving forward with our climate change adaptation work. I want to thank the French development agency the FGEF for the support they have given us in carrying out this project and also to the FIT group and its associated companies and partners for successfully completing this phase of the project.
I understand that we have now produced very detailed maps and data of the whole country and also particularly around the South Ari atoll. As you know we are becoming increasingly dependant on good data. I remember the last time I was in the United States visiting some of my family. Every time we got on the street we were told where to go by the car because it had the information to tell us where to turn, where to go straight and where to stop. All this information was available through the geographic information system that is connected to the cars. I understand very soon there will be cars that don’t need drivers. And all of this is based on good data, good mapping and information.
As you just heard from the Honourable Minister, we don’t have accurate data about what we consider to be the most important and most valuable physical asset in our country, which is our land, our reefs, our physical geography. And for the first time we are now beginning to get this information. And so this is not a small project. I believe that this will have enormous implications for us for now and for the future.
Unfortunately as you know, climate change talks globally haven’t gone very well. And we were not able to reach the kind of agreement we hoped for in Cancun. We are also not likely to achieve this in South Africa. But whatever is agreed will be too little and too late for the Maldives. It is unlikely that the international community will agree to emission reduction targets that will be sufficient to arrest adverse effects if climate change in Maldives. And therefore for the next 50 to 100 years Maldives will have to begin to face the consequences of exceeded targets of having not met the emission reduction targets globally.
Of course we want to become carbon neutral in Maldives, but that will have little or no effect on global trends and what is going to happen in Maldives is the result of actions taken by larger countries with very little contribution from the Maldives. Our carbon emission is literally negligible. And yet we will probably have to suffer the gravest consequences of this. This is particularly why the project is important. We need to have very accurate and detailed data about what Maldives is now and what changes will be taking place in the next few years and decades.
You have all heard that the possibility of Maldivians becoming environmental refugees is one that has been contemplated. Of course we hope the day will never come. But in that eventuality we have to be prepared. And for us it is the denial of a fundamental human right to be deprived of our small country. And that is where I believe good information on a longitudinal basis is going to help us convince the rest of the world to argue and to plan Maldivian rights for survival and existence as a nation.
So I believe that this is the beginning of a very important work that is linked to our own existence. But in the mean time this information is going to be extremely useful for improving the livelihoods of our people, for us to be able to identify where coastal erosion is taking place most seriously, where the coral reefs are getting damaged, and where we need to pay attention, where we need to pay priority attention for adaptation.
Similarly, it also will give us data about our own population concentration and development, where which islands have the greatest endurance against climate change and where we should be focusing on future development. So I hope that immediately the data that is available is fiercely examined and utilized for physical planning for population settlement and for investment of development projects.
We have had in the past 15, 20 years or so, various shifts in our development policy with regard to fiscal development. Under various names we have focused on different parts of the country and tried to concentrate our resources on certain islands. And this focus keeps on changing, shifting, partly because they are determined by non-technical considerations, often political considerations. I think our existence is too important for us to make those decisions purely on social political decisions. We should increasingly rely on technical data and begin to now identify where we need to put our resources and stable it for sometime. Otherwise very valuable resources are being wasted on places that don’t bring us the development results that we hope for.
So therefore I would urge the government and also the technical team that’s working on this project both in government and also our partners, to begin to focus on the application of the information that we have now secured. Clearly this information is going to be available, not only to the Ministry of Housing and Environment, it is going to be available to all government agencies and to our development partners through the portal I hope is being launched today.
So once again I would like to express our gratitude to the government of France and also particularly to the agencies that have been involved in supporting the government of Maldives to produce this very important database which from now on will serve as a base line for future monitoring and assessment of changes to the country. Thanks to the Minister and his team, in the Ministry of Housing and Environment for providing the guidance that is necessary to carry out this project and I trust that this partnership will continue and will also produce more data and facilitate continuous monitoring and evaluation of physical changes in Maldives.
Thank you very much for your support. This contribution is highly appreciated. Thank you.