• Lead-organizer: Maldives
  • 13:00 - 14:30
  • Date: 20 Jun 2012
  • Room: P3-F


Organizing partners

Lead Organizer: Ministry of Housing and Environment, Maldives
Co-organizers: UNDP Maldives.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maldives
The President?s Office, Maldives.


THE MALDIVES STORY: Achievements, opportunities and challenges towards sustainable development.

Since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, the Maldives has faced unique challenges as a Small Island Developing State in fulfilling its commitments under Agenda 21 and subsequent agreements pertaining to sustainable development. The biggest challenge Facing the country is climate change and its impacts, which threatens its sustainable developmental aspirations, its fragile ecosystems and the very existence of the country itself.

As a small island state, Maldives would like to share its experiences of the past twenty years with the international community in the hope that a better understanding of the circumstances of small islands states would help enable SIDS concerns to be reflected more meaningfully in the final outcome document negotiated in the conference.

Detailed programme

Thematic Focus

The proposed side event relates to theme 7, ?Reducing Disaster Risk and Building Resilience? of the seven critical issues identified for Rio+20. Specifically, the event will focus on resilience to climate change in the context of a Small Island Developing State, with the case of Maldives.

The Maldives is chain of 1,192 low lying coral islands in the Indian Ocean with a total land area of 300 km2. The islands are surrounded by coral reefs which protect the islands from impacts of strong waves. The islands have been known to be inhabited for up to 2,500 years. The population of the Maldives in 2006 is 298, 968. The main contributors to the economy are tourism and fisheries, which are highly dependent on the coastal environment. While Maldives contributes to less than 0.01% to the global emission of greenhouse gases, it is at the frontline of the predicted impacts of climate change and sea level rise.

The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 brought home the extent of vulnerability of the nation state to natural disasters. The tsunami took 82 lives, with 26 still missing. Sixty nine islands were completely flooded, destroying homes, access facilities including harbours and jetties, water and sewerage networks, electricity supplies, health facilities, communication networks, and agricultural crops. Some islands were left completely destroyed, leaving no structures behind. To build resilience of the islands to future disasters and climate change impacts, the Maldives identified several key areas as adaptation priorities: land, beach and human settlements, critical infrastructure, tourism, fisheries, human health, water resources, agriculture and food security, and coral reef biodiversity.

With no concrete action taken to date to address climate change at the global level, reducing disaster risk and building resilience is utmost to Maldives and other SIDS. For SIDS, without addressing climate change, there can be no sustainable development, as climate change resilience is a prerequisite for the very existence of our nation states.

Potential contribution to the outcome of Rio+20

As nation states get together to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development, assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development, and address new and emerging challenges, Rio+20 presents an important opportunity for the Maldives and other SIDS to showcase to the world, the special challenges that SIDS face in achieving sustainable development targets.

The side event will be hosted in collaboration with UNDP in Maldives, our biggest development partner. As is the case of many SIDS, with continuous support from the United Nations system, the Maldives has made significant progress towards achieving sustainable development and the Millennium Development Goals.

Specifically, the Maldives would like to demonstrate the lessons learned and how other SIDS benefit from these experiences.. In addition to its international obligations, the Maldives has taken bigger steps towards sustainable development, including the voluntary carbon neutral goal.

We wish to contribute to the outcome of the Rio+20 by highlighting the challenges of SIDS to the world community, so that our special circumstances are given due consideration at the summit.

Expected output of the side event

To present to the world a case study of the unique challenges, opportunities and achievements towards sustainable development of a small island state.
Copyright (c) United Nations 2011 | Terms of Use | Privacy Notice | Contact | Site Map | New