His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, President of the Republic of the Maldives,
At the High-Level Meeting convened by the President of the seventy-sixth session of the UN General Assembly
on Delivering Climate Action –for People, Planet and Prosperity
26 October 2021
Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First, I would like to begin by thanking the President of the UN General Assembly, HE Abdulla Shahid, for convening this important high-level meeting on Delivering Climate Action, for People, Planet and Prosperity.
The science is indisputable. Climate change is not a concern raised only by small island states and other climate vulnerable countries. It is now a global emergency.
Every day, we are observing more powerful storms and hurricanes. Unpredictable rains and monsoon patterns. Roaring wildfires. Devastating floods. Today, all nations of the world are facing the consequences of our collective inaction on climate change.
All this devastation is just at the 1.1 degrees of warming that we have already caused. I dare not fathom a world that exceeds the 1.5 degrees of warming, outlined as the best scenario for a habitable planet. Without radically changing our current NDCs, we are going to exceed 1.5 degrees.
We must chart our collective path towards a sustainable, safe and equitable future for all. To the Maldives, and to billions of people across the planet, the choice is obvious. We must act with utmost urgency.
The Maldives, and other small island states have been sounding the warning bells for years. I have stood before you at the General Assembly to warn us off the path we are on. I know, the fate of small islands today is the fate of the world tomorrow.
The time to act is now. I am optimistic that this event, COP26 in Glasgow and the upcoming G20 meeting will get us started on a collective course of ambitious action, solidarity and cooperation to reduce our emissions and ensure that every country has the support necessary to adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Although the Maldives is a small country, we have taken ambitious measures to achieve Net Zero by 2030, provided we get substantial support and technical assistance.
But we are under no illusion that NetZero from small countries will be enough. What it required is big economies working aggressively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Mitigation is just half of the challenge. We are already in a world where adaptation costs and resilience building are consuming an ever-growing portion of our national budgets. This fiscal strain, along with Covid-related economic drawbacks, have made it more difficult for small economies like ours to advance our development agenda.
When I attended the GeneralAssembly Debate in New York in September, I brought with me letters from young Maldivian children who shared their pleas to protect the environment and their home for the future generations.
I trust that this event, and COP26, which I look forward to attending in Scotland in November, will meet the moment. We must fulfill the demand of today’s youth and future generations to ensure a healthy, sustainable and prosperous future for all.