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This small nation may lose entire islands unless it can quickly access cheap financing.
The Republic of Maldives' Foreign Affairs Minister Abdulla Shahid Thursday indicated that his country, a small island nation located in the Indian Ocean, is struggling to find financing that will allow it to build infrastructure to mitigate the risks of sea-level rise.
“For the Maldives, and, for the world over, climate change can be best described as a security and human rights challenge,” said Shahid at the Raisina Dialogue 2020 held in New Delhi, India.
The Maldives archipelago comprises 1,190 islands that face risks related to flooding, winds, flooding, and other natural events that global climate change has intensified.
Currently, 199 of those islands are inhabited and exposed to natural hazards since the highest point of the Archipelago's land is about 6 feet above sea level.
In 2004, a tsunami ravaged the Maldives, causing financial losses of around 62 percent of its GDP and hitting its infrastructure.
Tourism and fishing industries are heavily dependent on coastal resources, and most settlements are concentrated along the coast.
“A problem well stated, is a problem half solved. Such is the case with climate change. For the Maldives, and, for the world over, climate change can be best described as a security and human rights challenge.”
While the Maldives spends US$10 million annually for coastal protection works, its government will need up to US$8.8 billion in total to shield all of its inhabited islands.
"In order to protect the islands, we need to start building sea walls," Shahid said.
"It's expensive, but we need it. We can't wait until all of them are being taken away."
The United Nations' Green Climate Fund has already approved nearly US$24 million in funding to the Maldives. Some individual nations, among which is Japan, have also offered help to build a sea wall around the Maldives' capital Male.
Environment Minister Hussain Rasheed Hassan said recently his country would have to turn to banks given inadequate funding elsewhere despite the fact small nations like his were paying the price for the developed world's pollution.
"We have to beg some of these (big) emitters to provide money for us. Is that fair?," The Maldives' Environment Minister said.