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World Technology Summit and Awards

Statement by H.E. Mr Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Republic of Maldives 

Delivered on his behalf by H.E. Abdul Ghafoor Mohamed,
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations
 

World Technology Summit and Awards 

1 December 2010

The Maldives is one of the world’s most beautiful countries: a chain 1,200, Robinson-Crusoe, tropical, desert islands that lie just off the tip of southern India. The Maldives is famed for its stunning beaches, breathtaking coral reefs and exuberant marine life. The average height of our islands is just 5 feet above the sea. Our proximity to the sea is what creates the country’s natural beauty. But our greatest asset is also our gravest threat: we are dangerously exposed to climate change and any rise in sea levels.

With international negotiations stalled and time running out to fix the climate, it is easy for the leader of a frontline state, such as the Maldives, to become despondent or even depressed. Many people appear prepared to write off the most vulnerable nations as sacrificial victims to the world’s fossil fuel addiction. With a shrug of the shoulders, you might simply accept that many countries will no longer appear, on a map in the 22nd Century. But this sort of self-defeating nihilism is not for the Maldives. There is no doubt that climate change places our homeland in great peril. But with every threat, comes opportunity.

We believe the Maldives can play an important role in leading the way, as we work towards building a world without greenhouse gas emissions. On a global scale, our carbon dioxide emissions are negligible. The Maldives has done little to cause the climate problem. But we are determined to be part of the solution.

Last year, the Maldives announced plans to become carbon neutral by 2020. My pledge is that we will become the first country in the world to kick the fossil fuel habit. As part of this goal, we intend to shift from using oil to using renewable energy to provide all our electricity. We aim to develop clean fuels to power our cars and boats. And we plan to offset aviation pollution, until a way can be found to de-carbonise air transport too. For the Maldives, carbon neutral development is not just an environmental issue. Reducing our dependence on foreign oil also improves security and boosts our economy.

I believe, with sustained focus, we can overcome the climate crisis. I do not believe that, to fix the climate, we have to create some sort of odious world government. I believe free markets are the best way to harness entrepreneurial spirit. And I believe that entrepreneurial spirit is what drives human progress. True entrepreneurs are not those who cling to the old certainties of the past, like climate deniers do. Rather, they are those who see a new world is coming, full of new opportunities. We can win not because hope can triumph over grim

reality, but because I know there is no shortage of humanity’s greatest resource.

That resource is not solar power, nearly unlimited though it is. It is the ingenuity and innovative capacity of people like you… of skilled and educated people who will drive the technologies of the future and help build a prosperous world with energy security and a stable climate.

Thank you very much.

ENDS

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