Maldivians Demand for Less Talk & More Actions on Climate Crisis

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What the global climate crisis means for the Maldives is without swift mitigation and adaptation, our people are at serious risk. We need to conserve and protect the remaining thriving coral reefs, mangroves and biodiversity to act as carbon sinks not only because the world needs to reduce the carbon in the atmosphere by 45% by 2030, but also because we need these ecosystems as our protection from the forces of nature. The reefs also provide us with our food. It is imperative that we strengthen our food and water security. As a country dependent on imports for most of our food and other needs, we are at risk of starvation should flooding or droughts occur in agricultural farmlands in other countries as a result of climate change. We need to invest in innovative ideas for agriculture to ensure self-reliance. We need to build climate resilient, safe cities and islands and completely eliminate dependency on fossil fuels. We need to prepare our children and youth for a rapidly changing world and a very different future. However small our contribution to global carbon emissions may be, we need to stop contributing further to the already exacerbated issue by immediately finding solutions to stop the open burning of waste across the Maldives, especially in Thilafushi.

The time to act is now.

Below are are demands we have for Less Talk and More Action;

  1. DECLARE A CLIMATE EMERGENCY IN MALDIVES IMMEDIATELY
  2. Make disaster preparedness and building resiliency a high priority.
  3. Ensure climate resilience through nature-based solutions:
    Halt all reclamation activities immediately to give a fighting chance for our coral reefs.
    Protect and conserve all mangroves.
    Protect and restore the coastal vegetation/heylhi/green zones around all inhabited islands 
    Preserve and plant native trees on roads and open areas to combat the increasing ambient temperatures. 
    Ban removal and transport of mature trees from islands for commercial purposes.
    Preserve Seagrass habitats.
    Ensure strict enforcement on illegal sand mining.
    Facilitate an enabling environment for innovation and research through citizen science for nature-based solutions. 
  4. Ensure Climate resilient housing and infrastructure 
    Define the carrying-capacity of inhabited islands and ensure a minimum of 40% greenspace in all inhabited islands.
    Develop climate resilient building codes that include measures like rainwater harvesting, water storage, reuse of greywater, waste segregation and composting, vertical/rooftop/balcony/home gardening (edible gardens), food storage especially cold storage, provision for renewable energy and provision for flood proofing such as elevation from ground level of the built area (eg.building on stilts).
    Ensure flood management in road design and road construction with provisions for the utilization of the access water through built-in reservoirs and ban of cutting down existing mature, native trees that provide greater than 40% canopy cover on the roads. 
    Plant native trees on all streets and roads that will provide a minimum of 40% canopy cover to address the increasing ambient temperatures.
    Establish an emergency evacuation center and shelter in each inhabited island or atleast in each population hub.
    Prioritize innovative ways for ensuring food security, water security and energy security in each inhabited island through land allocation and strict provisions in land-use planning.
    Immediate ban on the use of harmful pesticides or chemicals in food production and gardening. 
    Ensure mechanisms are in place for protection of the water lenses on islands.
    Ensure sewage is treated before being discharged.
  5. Accelerate efforts on establishing Biosphere Reserves across the Maldives:
    Prioritizing the ecologically sensitive areas identified by the Ministry of Environment.
    Ensure sufficient resources for strict monitoring and management of the protected areas.
  6. Transitioning to renewable energy and divesting from fossil fuels.
    Immediate halt on the fossil fuel subsidies and transfer of those funds to provide subsidies for transitioning to renewable energy sources.
    Accelerate efforts on transitioning to electric vehicles and phasing out all vehicles and vessels dependent on fossil fuels.
    Urgent action to enable pedestrian and bicycle friendly roads.
    Ensuring that all the projects under the government pledge to provide water and sanitation to all islands to be powered by renewable energy sources.
    Fulfill the pledge at the 74th United Nations General Assembly, for transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
  7. Ensure meaningful engagement in the decision-making process – leaving no one behind.
    Ensure effective communication and meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders including the public, when formulating action plans, policies and all other legal instruments.
    Stop tokenistic consultations immediately.
    Fulfill the obligation as per the Constitution, the Right to Information Act and Agenda 2030/Global Goals/Sustainable Development Goals and the UNFCCC in ensuring meaningful engagement of all stakeholders including the public.
    Publicize and share Climate Smart Resilient Islands Model Action Plan and the budget for climate mitigation and adaptation with public by end of 31st October 2019. 
    Publicize the budget and spending of Green Fund.
    Ensure information dissemination on mainstream and public media regarding Climate Resilience and Climate Crisis.
    Create a network of local actors – CSOs, technical experts and interested individuals from the general public, to address the climate emergency and work together finding solutions.
  8. Strengthen environmental related laws and regulations for immediate action
    Establish the legal framework needed to ensure climate resiliency.
    Make Strategic Environment Assessments compulsory for large national level programmes and development projects across the country. 
    Ban the trade of protected species or their specimens such as shark fins, turtle shells, corals, etc. which are protected under The Fisheries Act of Maldives and Environment Protection and Preservation Act of Maldives (EPPA) (4/93) and strictly adhere with related international conventions which Maldives is party to such as the Warsaw Convention, CITES and CMS. This also includes the IMMEDIATE removal of all the specimens at shops.
    Strengthen Environment Protection Agency’s role as enforcer of environmental regulation and make EPA an independent body with sufficient resources to carry out their mandate. 
    Environmental Offenders should be held accountable.
  9. Facilitate and enabling environment for young people to be proactive in climate action.
    Urgent action to re-train teachers and educators on the importance of critical thinking and nature-based learning.
    Revise and re-create education modules to ensure children are mentally and physically ready and empowered for a rapidly changing world and the climate crisis.
    Ensure that 100% of school children know how to swim through instilling love for the island ecosystem rather than fear of the ocean.
    Make schools learning grounds for behavioral change and climate resiliency by establishing an “eco-school” grading/certification system based on environmental stewardship and innovative solutions.
  10. Ensure incorporation of traditional/indigenous knowledge when addressing the climate crisis:
    Acknowledge the crucial role of traditional/indigenous knowledge in building climate resilience and give priority to understanding, preserving and the application of traditional/indigenous knowledge.
    Support documentation and dissemination of traditional/indigenous knowledge.
    Integrate practical components of native wisdom into school curriculums.
    Facilitate an enabling environment to support livelihood through traditional know-how and craftsmanship.
    Support and empower community initiatives in resilience building, including the conservation and protection of environment.
  11. IMMEDIATE Solutions to waste management 
    Halt the open-burning of Thilafushi waste and open-burning of waste on any island immediately.
    Immediately announce cessation of endorsing oxo-degradable plastic bags by EPA.
    Ensure the implementation of the pledge to ban all single-use plastics by 2023 completely. Banning of single-use bottled water and plastic bags should be prioritized.
    Criminalise ocean dumping of waste, especially by vessels.
    Incentivise and provide subsidies for environmentally friendly alternatives for single-use plastic products.
    Introduce Extended Producer Responsibility to ensure producers and importers are responsible for their products throughout their life cycle.
    Transition to the circular economy model and move towards zero waste by 2030.