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article imageTropical Maldives seeking funds as islands at risk of sinking

By Karen Graham     Jan 17, 2020 in Environment
Male - The tropical Maldives may lose entire islands unless it can quickly access cheap financing to fight the impact of climate change, its foreign minister said.
The Republic of Maldives' Foreign Minister, Abdulla Shahid spoke to Reuters in New Delhi, India, lamenting how the island nation has struggled to find money to build critical infrastructure, like sea-walls.
"For small states, it is not easy," he said. "By the time the financing is obtained, we may be underwater.” At the UN climate talks in Madrid in December, the Maldives and other small and vulnerable countries pushed for some fresh progress on funding to help deal with disasters and long-term damage from climate change.
Shadid said he is looking forward to the next round of climate talks to be held in Glasgow in November. The UN's environmental panel has warned that, at current rates, sea-level rise would be high enough to make the Maldives uninhabitable by 2100.
The tiny Indian Ocean atoll of the Maldives has a successful luxury tourism sector -- but   rising s...
The tiny Indian Ocean atoll of the Maldives has a successful luxury tourism sector -- but rising sea levels threaten the world's lowest-lying country, with coastal flooding predicted to double by 2050
The Maldives is the lowest country in the world
The Maldives consists of 1,192 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls, along a north-south direction, spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 sq mi). The country's average natural ground levels are between 2.4 meters (7 ft 10 in) and 1.5 meters (4 ft 11 in) above sea level.
This makes the Maldives not only the lowest country in the world, but the most dispersed, based on its area. However, not all of the islands in the country are habitable, with over 80 percent of the country's land composed of coral islands that rise less than one meter (3.2 feet) above sea level.
Tourism and fishing are the main industries in the Maldives. Tourism accounts for 28 percent of the GDP and more than 60 percent of the Maldives' foreign exchange receipts. Over 90 percent of government tax revenue comes from import duties and tourism-related taxes. And one lucrative byproduct of the tourism industry has been fishing and other related activities.
Malé  capital of Maldives
Malé, capital of Maldives
The islands spend about $10 million annually on coastal protection but claim they need up to $8.8 billion in total to shield all of its 189 inhabited islands, based on an environmental assessment in 2016.
“In order to protect the islands, we need to start building sea walls,” Shahid said. “It’s expensive, but we need it. We can’t wait until all of them are being taken away.”
The United Nations has created a Green Climate Fund that has already raised $24 million for the Maldives, and that amount is just a small drop in the bucket. A number of nations have volunteered to help, including Japan which contributed to a sea wall around the Maldives’ capital Male.
More about Republic of Maldives, island nation, Sea level rise, Funds, Corruption
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