“SCP as a pathway for sustainable development of SIDS”
Mr Jeffrey Salim Waheed
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations, Chargé d’affaires, a.i.
New York, 15 May 2015
Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues,
Maldives is delighted to be part of this important event on “Sustainable Consumption and Production as a pathway for sustainable development of SIDS. I wish to thank the Chair of the Board of the 10YFP and the secretariat, for taking the initiative to organize this timely event.
The Maldives is an archipelago of 1190 Islands with a geographical territory of 99 % sea and a mere 1% land. For Maldives all facets of our lifestyle, culture and economy exclusively depend on coastal and marine biodiversity, including the two leading sectors, tourism and fisheries, contributing most to our economy. Our biodiversity contributes to 71% of our national employment, 49% of public revenue, 62% of foreign exchange, 98% of exports, and 89% of GDP. Our oceans and islands are threatened by the effects of Climate Change, the most direct and threatening spawn of unsustainable production and consumption.
We believe that sustained economic and social progress can be reached while taking the environmental pillar of sustainability fully into account. We should avoid environmentally or socially unsustainable short-term gains. Economic growth is a great tool to achieve our common aspirations. But it becomes useful only when it is based on sustainable consumption and production, rather than on the deterioration of natural capital and ecosystem services.
In the Maldives, tourism and related services contribute about 30% to the GDP, but its indirect contributions are much higher. For a country with a population of 380,000 we receive more than 1 million tourists per year. This is due to the vibrant coral reefs, white sandy beaches and its abundant marine life. The future and the economy of the country are closely linked to the careful management of the natural environment. We take great care in delivering a product that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. The Tourism Master Plans are aimed at preserving and protecting the natural resource base, heritage and culture while at the same time, introducing green technologies, sustainable energy sourcing, and carbon emission reduction methods for the tourism industry.
Another important economic sector in the Maldives is fisheries and our practices have been internationally recognized as sustainable. Poll and line fishing is the backbone of our fisheries industry, and this unique fishing method ensures the protection of marine life. However, the increasing global depletion of this valuable resource is a travesty. The most conservative estimates show that over 30% of the World's fish stocks are overexploited and another 50% are fully exploited. Many other fish stocks are data deficient but are still being fished. The world is losing billions of dollars a year due to overfishing. We as an international community need to put an end to IUU fishing and perverse subsidies that are economically unprofitable.
Many SIDS countries are spending huge amounts on fossil fuels as the only source of energy. In the Maldives, for example, we are currently spending 25% of GDP on importing fossil fuels. Unless there is a substantial partnership created to high yielding technologies, we would not be able to reduce this overreliance on fossil fuels, no matter how ambitious programs countries like the Maldives have towards low-carbon development. We have several solar power pilot projects currently ongoing and recently we have started to install LED street lights. We will continue to strive and do the best in our capability.
Waste management in the Maldives has been a serious environmental problem and has recently emerged as one of the greatest environmental challenges in the country. In recent years, rapid population growth, changing consumption patterns, transportation difficulties and booming tourism sector have contributed to the growing quantities of waste in the Maldives. It is estimated that 860 metric tons per day (mtpd), or 312,075 metric tons (mt) per year, of solid waste is discarded in the Maldives (MTAC, 2013). The geographic nature of the Maldives with small island populations spread over large areas and with limited technology provides a distinct challenge for solid waste management. Currently there are a number of different initiatives underway to establish sound waste management including building island level waste management centres, establishment of regional waste management facilities, privatization of waste collection and pilot waste to energy project. In some island, the waste management center is functioning with user fees from households. Wastes are being segregated at household level. Further segregation is undertaken at the waste management center. A market driven composting facility on the island generates revenue and therefore it can be considered that an integrated waste management in island communities is a viable option.
In conclusion I would like to highlight that we as an international community have agreed in the Samoa Pathway that “all countries should promote sustainable consumption and production patterns, with developed countries taking the lead and all countries benefiting from the process”.