Male, April 6, 2010: The Government of Maldives, the European Union (EU), and the World Bank Group today signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding establishing a new Trust Fund designed to build resilience to climate change in the Maldives.
The EU has contributed EUR 6.5 million (approximately $8.8 million) to the multi-donor Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund, which the World Bank will administer over a period of three and a half years. The majority of the Trust Fund resources will be utilized by the Government of Maldives to carry out their priority projects relating to climate change adaptation and mitigation.
"The Maldives has been a champion of climate change discussions and an important actor in Copenhagen, making a unilateral commitment to become carbon neutral by 2020," stated HE Bernard Savage, Ambassador of the European Union to Sri Lanka and the Maldives. "Climate change is a serious global challenge, and a major threat to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by reversing development progress made in the last decade. It demands urgent, cooperative and shared responsibility to act. Thus the EU welcomes the opportunity to assist the Government of Maldives in reaching out towards their stated goals on carbon neutrality through this initial contribution of EUR 6.5 million."
A low lying archipelago with more territorial sea than land, the Maldives is exposed to the risks of intensifying weather events such as damage caused by inundation, extreme winds and flooding from storms. Sea level rise represents an existential threat to the country. With future sea levels projected to increase in the range of 10 to 100 centimeters by the year 2100, the entire country could be submerged in the worst-case scenario.
Threatened with its very existence, the Government of Maldives has declared its intention to fight climate change over the next decade, including a vision to cut carbon emissions to become a carbon neutral nation.
“It’s crucial for Maldives to build a climate resilient economy and society through adaptation,” said Naoko Ishii, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives. “The commitment and manner in which Maldives addresses the environmental challenges and builds a climate-friendly economy will not only have important demonstration effects for the country, but also the world”
The development objectives of the Trust Fund Program are to:
- Strengthen knowledge and leadership in the Government of Maldives to deal with climate change issues both domestically and internationally;
- Build adaptive capacity and climate resilience in key sectors through tangible pilot interventions;
- Promote energy efficiency and increase energy access through renewable energy generation and distribution through low carbon options and public-private partnerships; and
- Improve policy and institutional capacities in the public and private sectors to deal with adaptation and mitigation interventions that bring both developmental and climate change benefits.
The governance arrangements for the Program include a Climate Change Advisory Council in the Office of the President with representatives from the government to provide strategic direction to the climate change activities under the Trust Fund. In addition, a Technical Committee composed of technical experts of the Government of Maldives, private sector and leading civil society organizations is responsible for reviewing and recommending technically well-sound project proposals for financing and monitoring the overall progress of the program.
“The Maldives stands at the frontline of the climate change battle. We are one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth and therefore need to adapt to climate change,” said Dr. Mohammed Waheed Hassan, Honorable Vice President of Maldives. “No amount of adaptation will save the Maldives if the world continues to burn carbon. We are therefore aiming for carbon neutrality, to show the world that you don’t need to burn carbon to develop.”
The interventions paid for from the trust fund are expected to be on strengthening ongoing efforts in areas such as coastal protection, biodiversity conservation, tourism, fisheries, livelihoods and water options, solid waste management, and energy solutions.
“This multi-donor trust fund provides a significant opportunity for interested donors to support Maldives in addressing the climate challenges in a coordinated manner,” said Priti Kumar, Senior Environment Specialist and World Bank’s Team Leader for the Trust Fund.