Minister of Environment Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan, on Thursday, declared the importance of ensuring that development policies are sustainable and do not cause irreversible damage to the environment.
In his letter wishing everyone a happy World Environment Day, he stated that “we must ensure all policies take into account the carrying capacity of our environment, manage our resources effectively and support sustainable economic growth”.
The minister highlighted that tourism and fisheries, which are the mainstay of the Maldivian economy, are contingent upon the viability of marine biodiversity.
Noting that the country is heavily dependant on the natural resources and services that are derived from surrounding nature, he stated that “we also rely on biodiversity and ocean services for our food security, clean water, reduces beach erosion, sand formation, and protection from natural disasters”.
Stressing on the immense value of the environment and the need to protect it, the minister ended his letter urging everyone to “be more responsible towards our environment”.
The statement released by the Ministry of Environment also echoed similar sentiments to the minister, emphasising the importance of planning development projects with conservation in mind, instead of sacrificing the environment for short-lived industrial benefits.
The statement also highlighted the necessity of utilising this year’s theme “Time For Nature” in rebuilding the future post-pandemic by making habitual changes to minimise the damage inflicted on the environment.
According to the ministry, this is the time to reflect on the value of nature and decide on treating one’s surroundings with proper respect.
“Therefore, it is important to avoid wasting natural resources and assess the damages to the ecosystem in making use of them”.
To celebrate the occasion, the Environment Ministry introduced a special sticker pack with different messages related to the day, which can be downloaded via the ministry’s website.
In addition, Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology announced that from Friday onwards, the institution is 100 per cent digitalized and will no longer be storing physical documents, other than those required by law.
This step was taken to reduce the usage of paper, and therefore, reduce the impact on the environment.
As the state echoes the necessity of “sustainable development” on World Environment Day 2020, the local environmental campaign ‘Save Maldives’ slammed President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and the government for continuing unsustainable development projects such as the reclamation of Gulhifalhu, Kaafu Atoll, reportedly funded by foreign loans of USD 300 million.
Save Maldives had criticised President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s administration earlier in February as well, for disregarding sustainable development in a time of national and global crisis. At the time, the Ministry of Planning and Infrastructure had overturned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s rejection of the proposed development of Maafaru International Airport.
Then on May 6, the government revealed its decision to move ahead with the reclamation of 30 hectares of land in Gulhifalhu for the development of facilities for the purpose of providing accommodation for 40,000 expatriates.
Although the Maldives has been at the forefront of climate advocacy since 1987, Speaker Nasheed himself appealing to the international community at COP24 in 2019, a number of Maldivians hold the opinion that across administrations, government attitudes on the matter remain slack.
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