Just a few days after Australia officially created the world’s largest marine reserve, the President for the Republic of Maldives has announced that the state will become the first country to be a marine reserve—making the Maldives the single largest marine reserve in the world. Speaking at the 1st Plenary Meeting of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development at the Rio+20 Conference, President Dr Mohamed Waheed highlighted the environmental challenges faced by the country as well as the conservation work it has been performing, such as making the Baa Atoll the first UNESCO Biosphere reserve.
Due to its low-lying nature, the Maldives has beeninvesting heavily in sustainable practices. The threat of rising sea levels have even seen plans emerge for a series of floating islands. Additionally, in order to protect the country’s stunning natural beauty and ecosystems, the Maldives’ has set itself a series of carbon neutrality targets.
In his speech, the President also underlined the unique environmental challenges faced in the Maldives. Stressing the vitality of biodiversity to the Maldives, the President reiterated the Maldives’ commitment to the Rio Principles and to Agenda 21.
“Our commitment, as a country, to sustainable development is evident across our economy and across our society. By relying on sustainable practices, the Maldives has achieved remarkable success. Maldives is one of only three countries to have ever graduated from the United Nations’ Least Developed Country category. And we are also on course to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals. Our economy, built primarily on tourism and fisheries, has grown significantly. Our tourism sector is a sustainable one, relying on the preservation of our magnificent coral reefs, beautiful beaches and our rich and diverse marine life.”
“Maldives remains wedded to sustainable pole-and-line fishing, while others continue unsustainable fishing practices. Such practices are destroying our regional and global fish stocks, with dire consequences on the livelihood of many Maldivians. This year we have established the first UNESCO Biosphere reserve in the Baa Atoll, one of the 20 atolls that make up the Maldives. I would like to announce today that Maldives will become the first country to be a marine reserve. We can do it in a short time. I hope we can do it in 5 years. It will become the single largest marine reserve in the world.”
President Waheed also said that the global community needed to be more committed to a greener economy and helping developing countries like the Maldives, who are constantly in need of considerable financial and technical support. He also called for a third global sustainable development conference for Small Island Developing States in 2014.
To read the President Waheed’s full speech, click here.
+ The President’s Office for The Republic of the Maldives
Images © The Republic Of Maldives, thetravelguru