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PRESS RELEASE

Concerted Efforts Needed to Support Maldives Adapt to Climate Change, World Bank Report Findings Indicate

June 19, 2013

Regional Vice President for South Asia Isabel Guerrero discusses how an expected 2°C rise in the world’s average temperatures in the next decades threatens South Asia’s dense urban populations with extreme heat, flooding, and disease and could trap millions of people in poverty. Read more at: http://climatechange.worldbank.org

Colombo, June 19, 2013— With South Asia close to the equator, the sub-continent would see much higher rises in sea levels than higher latitudes, with the Maldives confronting the biggest increases of between 100-115 centimeters warns a World Bank scientific report launched today. The consequences on livelihoods and health could be disastrous. An expected 2°C rise in the world’s average temperatures in the next decades will impact island economies such as the Maldives with extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels. New technological solutions and international cooperation are a must to adapt to and change the current trajectory of climate change impacts on growth and poverty reduction efforts says the new report.

Disturbances to the monsoon system and rising peak temperatures put water and food resources at severe risk according to this report.  An extreme wet monsoon, which currently has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years, is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century.

“The Maldives is one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change impact and has set best practice examples in adapting to climate change consequences” said Ivan Rossignol, Acting Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Maldives has a Strategic Plan of Action (2009-2013) also known as the National Framework for Development and National Adaptation Programme of Action (2006) that provides a solid policy foundation to environmental sustainability, climate change adaptation and low carbon development.The World Bank is committed to supporting the government of Maldives. The current situation is beyond intellectual debates on climate change. A concerted effort is needed to act now while we still can make a differencesaid Rossignol.

In the Maldives, the World Bank Group is supporting the government in both adaptation and mitigation measures. Climate change work in the Maldives is supported with financing provided by the European Union and AusAID through a multi-donor trust fund. A pilot project on flood and drainage management, rainwater harvesting, coral reef monitoring and mainstreaming climate change considerations in policy and planning are some of the adaptation measures already underway. The Maldives vision on carbon neutrality in 2020 is a mitigation measure carried out by piloting the adoption of solar power for power generation and energy efficiency improvement and an integrated solid waste management system.

Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience builds on a World Bank report released late last year, which concluded the world would warm by 4 degrees Celsius (4°C or 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by the end of this century if countries did not take concerted action now. This new report looks at the likely impacts of present day (0.8°C), 2°C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and 4°C warming on agricultural production, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South East Asia.

The report, prepared for the World Bank by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics,  says the consequences for South Asia of a warming climate are even worse if global temperatures increased by an average of 4°C  by 2090. In this scenario, seen as likely unless action is taken now to limit carbon release in the atmosphere, South Asia would suffer more extreme droughts and floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and declines in food production.

What is needed to mitigate some of the damage from even 1.5 to 2ºC warming are major investments in infrastructure, flood defenses, drought and heat resistant crops and improved management of surface and groundwater.

“We are determined to work with countries to find solutions,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.“But, the science is clear.  There can be no substitute for aggressive national mitigation targets, and the burden of emissions reductions lies with a few large economies.” 

Reaching the target of a carbon neutral energy sector by the year 2020 is of high priority to the government of Maldives. This includes an increased share of renewable energy in the energy mix. The World Bank’s Scaling up Renewable Energy Program in Low Income Countries (SREP) will support the Renewable Energy development in the greater Male region and the outer islands with a strong focus on solar, wind and waste-to-energy, including public and private investment as well as related capacity building of government bodies, utilities and other stakeholders.

For a copy of Turn Down The Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience go to: http://climatechange.worldbank.org

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