Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid has said that waiting and hoping is not enough for the Maldives and that countries must drastically reverse the current trends in climate change to ensure that a future exists for the young Maldivian children.
The Minister said this on Friday while addressing the United Nations Security Council in its open debate on the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace and security.
Minister Shahid said that climate change has been destroying Maldives for years by eroding its beaches, killing coral reefs protecting the islands, contaminating fresh water with sea water and reducing the fish stock.
He recalled a speech he gave to the UN Security Council on 17th April 2007 in its first ever debate on the impact of climate change on peace and security and said that he reminded the council on that day that climate change is not only an everyday affect of life for the Maldivians but an existential threat.
He said he reminded the council that a mean sea level rise of 2 meters would suffice to virtually submerge the entire Maldives, adding that prospects are far worse than they had imagined, 12 years later.
“While we are busy still trying to decide which forum of the United Nations must address which aspect of climate change, in our countries across the world lakes are drying up, depriving fresh water to tens of millions of people. Unseasonal droughts are leaving millions of people homeless. Hunger and displacement are leading to conflicts and entire nations are sinking underwater. What is a bigger security threat than this?”
However, he said that he is encouraged by the Paris agreement to combat the impact of climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for it.
He also highlighted the importance of having a large share of funds reversed for adapting to climate change, which will enable countries to build the infrastructure to reduce the risk of climate induced disasters. He said that the solutions should also aim to strengthen the United Nations system to identify potential climate related risks in conflicts and take mitigating measures early on.
Countries that are on the first line of impact such as the Maldives cannot afford to wait until we can all agree on the facts on the ground that climate change is a threat to international peace and security, he added.