Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature to commemorate the International Mother Earth Day
Intervention by the Republic of Maldives
United Nations, New York, 27 April 2015
We would like to express our appreciation to the President of the General Assembly for convening this interactive dialogue to commemorate International Mother Earth Day. We also express our appreciation to the panellists for their valuable contributions.
The rights of nature is not a concept that is foreign or novel to humankind. Since the dawn of civilization, we have had a harmonious and interdependent relationship with our natural environment that we, as humans, inherently rely on for survival and sustenance. This is especially the case for small island countries such as the Maldives, which rely solely on oceans and marine resources to sustain their economies. In addition to the economic aspect, it is also important to identify the social dimension to the relationship that we have with nature, as the cultural traditions and practices of our island communities are intertwined with nature as well.
However, in our pursuit for greater development, we seem to have forgotten the respect and regard we have had for our only home. And it has become critical to switch to a more sustainable approach in order to secure the future and even the continued survival of the human race. The link between sustainability and harmony with nature is apparent; as we cannot achieve sustainability without finding a way to utilize natural resources in a manner which does not have irreversible or permanent impacts.
A renewed effort to transition back to a more “eco-centric” approach was observed in the Outcome Document “The Future We Want”. However, this is not an issue that can be addressed by the isolated efforts of certain countries. That is precisely why we are at a critical turning point this year, as we are in the process of finalizing the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which will determine the united global approach.
In this regard, under Sustainable Development Goal 12, it is proposed that by 2030 people have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in Harmony with Nature. The lack of awareness and education is indeed a huge contributing factor to the propagation of unsustainable practices that we observe today. Therefore, learning from the traditions and practices of our ancestors, we should start moving in a sustainable direction once again.
The Maldives has preserved many traditions throughout the ages, which have enabled the community to flourish in an environmentally sustainable manner. Fishing is not only a major source of income for the country, but also a way of life for communities who still maintain the traditional pole and line method of fishing. This not only prevents overfishing, but also ensures that other marine animals are not harmed.
When discussing sustainability, one of the most important issues that we have to address globally is climate change. The impacts of global warming and climate change are not only detrimental to our planet, but also permanent. The way carbon emissions have been escalating over the last century, we have reached the point where we have become the last generation that can actually prevent the further impacts of climate change. Therefore, if we fail to act now, no future action will suffice.
Climate change not only ravages the earth and its ecosystems, it is also an existential threat for low-lying Small Island Developing States such as the Maldives. Therefore, in the context of climate change, the world must switch to sustainable practices – as a matter of survival, rather than as an aspirational goal. More prominent strides need to be made towards switching to renewable energy and moving away from the reliance on fossil fuels within our economies. The negotiations for a binding agreement on climate change at COP 21 is underway through the UNFCCC, and it is our hope that the climate talks will culminate in a strong, ambitious and legally binding outcome for the betterment of our people and the planet.
The Maldives strongly supports and encourages the concept of working harmoniously with nature when pursuing economic growth and development. Utilizing sustainable means to achieve these goals is critical, not only for our planet but for the future of humanity.