H.E. Ahmed Khaleel, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives, at the UNSC Arria-formula Meeting: Climate Finance for Sustaining Peace and Security
9 March 2021
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to first convey our thanks to you, Mr. President, for convening this important meeting. Maldives aligns with the statement delivered by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States.
The science, as reflected in the recent IPCC report, is unequivocal. We are well past the era where climate change was a distant warning from small islands and other vulnerable countries. We witness the very real stakes every day. More powerful storms and hurricanes. Unpredictable rain and monsoon patterns. Wildfires. Floods. Coral bleaching. Today, all nations, big or small, rich or poor, are facing the consequences of our collective failure to act on climate change. The new IPCC report confirms in devastating detail what we have already known for years.
Our window to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees is quickly closing. We must chart our collective path either towards a sustainable, safe, and equitable future for all, or the deterioration and destruction and security consequences that inaction on climate change will surely bring. To the Maldives, and to vulnerable people across the planet, the choice is obvious. We must act with utmost urgency.
The twin burdens of building resilience to climate change, while in parallel experiencing the degradation of our natural resources because of climate change, places an unbearable load on Small Island Developing States such as the Maldives and other countries in fragile and post-conflict situations.
Adapting to the effects of climate change consumes an ever-increasing portion of our fiscal and human capacity in ensuring that clean water, sanitation, food, housing, healthcare, and other necessities are in place for our citizens. Pure adaptation and resilience building projects are expensive and do not offer any direct financial return, instead they are investments to simply preserve the necessities that underpin an enduring, peaceful society.
The consequences of climate change are being felt around the world in different ways – whether fires, droughts, extreme weather events or hurricanes. If current trends continue, we will face a future of both increasing extreme and slow onset climate change impacts. These impacts will manifest in different forms in various contexts – whether as droughts, floods, fires, deforestation, soil loss or sea level rise. We know that whatever the specific impacts, resource contention, mass migrations, and other consequences of our climate breakdown drive conflict and undermine our ability to recover in post conflict situations.
Regardless of our best efforts to adapt and build resilience, we are already seeing irreversible loss and damage. We must be vigilant about the longer-term, slow onset impacts of climate change too. If sea levels rise, beaches erode, corals bleach and fish stocks disappear – what does that mean for the Maldives where tourism is the main industry which contributes to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? We must address the root drivers of climate change, while also ensuring the resilience of the foundations of a peaceful society.
In terms of what can be done, we need to improve the ability of the international financial institutions, the multilateral development banks, and the multilateral system to provide adaptation funding that is predictable, accessible, and sufficient.
The financial resources available to developing countries, including conflict afflicted areas, countries in other fragile situations, or for SIDS, are very limited. These funds are usually extremely difficult to access, and the application process alone is cumbersome and complex, particularly given the size and nature of projects. Funds established to assist these countries need to be adequate, predictable, and more accessible.
To address this, developed countries can pledge funding at a level that provides vulnerable countries, including those in conflict and those in other fragile situations, with assurances that adequate funds are there, particularly to implement adaptation plans.
Thank you again Mr. President for convening this important meeting and we look forward to continuing to work with you to advance this and the broader climate change agenda on the road to COP 28.
I thank you.