The President of the Maldives implored world leaders gathered at the United Nations to urgently help the group of islands he governs in the middle of the Indian Ocean fight the menace of global warming, in a message to the General Assembly today.
“The threats posed to the Maldives from climate change are well-known,” President Mohamed Nasheed told the second day of the Assembly’s annual high-level debate at UN Headquarters in New York.
As beaches are lost to rising seas, houses to storm surges, jobs as fish stocks dwindle, and lives lost to more frequent extreme weather events, the scattering of islands becomes harder and harder to govern “until a point is reached when we must consider abandoning our homeland,” said Mr. Nasheed.
Calling on world leaders “to protect the future of front-line countries like the Maldives,” he said an ambitious new treaty on greenhouse gas reductions must be reached at December’s UN climate change conference in Copenhagen, which seeks to limit average global temperature increases to less than 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels.
“To do otherwise would be to sign the death warrant for the 300,000 Maldivians,” stressed Mr. Nasheed.
“But, the Maldives is determined to do what we can to survive,” he said referring to the archipelago’s commitment to be the first carbon-neutral country in 10 years time.
“In order to do that, we are determined to formulate a survival-kit, a carbon-neutral manual that would enable others to replicate in order that all of us together might just about save ourselves from climate catastrophe.”
Mr. Nasheed also hoped to invite some of the States most affected by climate change to the Maldives this November to “reinforce our determination to leave no stone unturned to ensure our survival.”
In addition, he said that the nascent democracy, which held its first ever multi-party presidential elections last year needed help from Member States in consolidating democracy and establishing a secure, prosperous and equitable society for the country.
Mr. Nasheed said he was thankful to be the first democratically-elected President of the Maldives to attend the General Assembly debate, many of which in the past he had spent bound up in a cell for his beliefs about freedom.