His Excellency Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Maldives,
High-level Meeting on Climate and Sustainable Development for All
28 March 2019, New York
President of the General Assembly, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this important meeting. I believe that having this meeting early in the year will build positive momentum on climate action, leading up to the High-Level Climate Summit in September.
The global community universally endorsed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in Brazil 27 years ago. We all made important commitments in the Convention. Yet, today, the global community has still not fulfilled those commitments.
Article 4 of the Convention states that, developed countries shall provide new and additional financial resources to meet the agreed full cost incurred by developing countries in complying with the obligations of the Convention. This includes financial resources for the transfer of technology as well. The question is - how much of this ‘shall’ commitment has been fulfilled?
The scientific community has overwhelmingly spoken in favour of rapid action, with the release of the IPCC’s 1.5C report. The findings are extremely alarming, but not surprising. What is even more alarming is the lack of corresponding action to combat climate change. The 1.5C Report states with high confidence that coral reefs will decline by 70-90% even at at 1.5C. At 2C, the decline will be more 99%. Can we imagine a reef without live corals? A dead reef will have significant and irreversible consequences on the islands. This is the most optimistic scenario. However, not a very promising one for the coral atoll nations like the Maldives and fellow SIDS.
For a country that is made up of coral islands, this is catastrophic scenario. For a country that derives its main income from tourism, this means huge loss of revenue. For a country that regards fisheries as a main source of livelihood and employment, this means major economic and social loss. The economic cost of global warming on a country, such as the Maldives, is already more than what we can bear.
Climate change is an issue of high priority for President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration. We will not shy away in expressing our concerns on climate change. We will fight for faster and meaningful climate action. We are also in the process of implementing our Climate Plans to the best of our capacity. We appeal and urge other countries to do the same. Increasing national ambition should be our guiding principle, as we execute our domestic targets.
We are already investing what we can. However, domestic resources are simply not enough. Climate change is exerting undue pressure on our already vulnerable economy, which is heavily dependent on the environment and its natural resources. The Maldives with its limited resources, coupled with geographic vulnerabilities, is unable to adequately finance our needs for climate adaptation and mitigation.
The solution to close the gap between what is needed, and what we have is simple - predictable and adequate financing, adequate capacity building and site-specific technology transfer. I call upon our partners, especially the developed countries to deliver on the commitments already made under the Convention. Furthermore, the commitments under the Paris Agreement, including to mobilise 100 billion US Dollars annually by 2020, must be fulfilled as well. Similarly, new partnerships with the private sector and non-government organisations should be established. These partnerships should supplement the mobilization of the much needed resources for urgent climate action. They must be genuine, durable and sustainable.
The replenishment process for the Green Climate Fund, is already underway. I urge countries to mobilize and allocate resources to the GCF replenishment process, so that we can achieve our common goals together and faster.
Financial resources that are available to the developing countries, especially to the SIDS are already very limited. Funds established to assist countries in special situations, which need additional help are running empty. Of funds that are available, what is accessible is further limited. The process of application for finances are complex, long and cumbersome. This needs to change.
I urge the international community to recognise the numerous challenges faced by the developing countries, especially those most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. What the world needs is actions. Actions that are consistent with the commitments we have already made. Actions will speak louder than words.
I thank you.