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Statement by the Maldives on behalf of AOSIS at the High Level Signature Ceremony of Paris Agreement- 22 April 2016

Statement by the Republic of Maldives

on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States

at High Level Signature Ceremony of Paris Agreement

22 April 2016

Your Excellency, Mr. Ban Ki-moon; President Hollandé, the Distinguished Mrs. Christiana Figueres, Excellencies, Colleagues:

I have the honour of delivering this statement in my capacity as Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.

Let me begin by thanking the UN Secretary General and the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC for their unwavering leadership in the global effort to address climate change, our generation's biggest challenge.

Not only was your work central to winning the historic climate change treaty in Paris last year, you've earned an enduring legacy in the history of international diplomacy.

And, indeed, it is an historic day. Earlier, I had the honour of signing the Paris agreement on behalf of the Maldives. Just a few weeks ago, we joined a distinguished group of small island nations that were the first to complete their domestic ratification processes for the treaty. It is no accident that islands are acting so quickly. For some of us, our very survival depends on the world moving expeditiously from ratification to implementation.

The alarming reports about sea level rise accelerating around the world and the heartbreaking loss of coral in the coral reef and other fragile marine systems serves as just the latest reminder of the urgency of our task.

While an onslaught of powerful storms fueled by record temperatures last year—Cyclone Winston, Cyclone Pam, and Hurricane Erika, to name only a few—shows that for many islands climate change is truly a matter of life and death.

Make no mistake, much damage has been done and we will need help rebuilding and adapting to the new realities of life in a warming world. But just as importantly, small islands are showing that there the solutions are within reach and that there is hope for a better future.

For not only do we have some of the boldest national climate change plans, in many cases we are already putting them to action.

In the Maldives, we are working to make our critical infrastructure climate proof—developing coastal defenses, adapting to water scarcity, and investing in public health, food security, fisheries, and tourism.

At the same, we have set a goal to install renewable electricity generation that meets up to 30 percent of daytime peak load in all inhabited islands within the next three years.

Still, we know that we all must work harder, particularly in the short-term, to respond adequately to the threats we face. The Maldives climate plan is designed to become increasingly ambitious as we get better at tackling these problems and climate solutions become even more affordable.

For certain, all of us must do more and do it faster. To that end, developed countries must fulfill long-standing pledges on means of implementation. And it is not just state actors that have a role to play. The successful implementation of the Paris agreement demands that civil society hold countries to account and call us out if we are falling short. Similarly, academia and the private sector must continue to drive innovation and find cost effective solutions to the problems before us.

While I speak here today we need to remind ourselves on the second commitment of the Kyoto Protocol and early action on climate change as well.

This is an historic occasion and one we should all be proud to be a part of. But let us remember that future generations will judge us not on what we accomplished today but what we do from this day forward.

Thank you.

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