President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has, in his annual address to parliament, emphasized that as the country redoubles its efforts to economically recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, it will prioritize development that is consistent with environmental preservation and sustainability. This builds upon the Government’s longstanding vision of inaugurating and strengthening a Blue Economy in the Maldives. The Government is committed to following through on this vision and delivering on our highly ambitious environment and climate related pledges despite the challenges of Covid-19.
Two key pledges of this Government with regard to sustainable development – that is, development that can adapt to and mitigate the impact of the climate crisis, and preserve our natural assets for future generations - include reducing the country’s carbon emissions, and phasing out single-use plastics.
Earlier this year, the President pledged that the Maldives aims to achieve net-zero in carbon emissions by 2030, a goal that we are confident we can meet with the support and assistance of the international community. He further outlined some of the initiatives that the country is taking of its own accord to meet this goal, including the installation in 26 islands of solar PV systems of 2.86 megawatts, as part of our efforts to transition towards renewable energy.
The President pledged that this year the Government will begin the installation of these systems in another 61 islands, emphasizing that they have the capacity to generate 36 megawatts of power in total. The President positively acknowledged that power generation from renewable energy sources have increased threefold in the past two years, the highest increase to date. Further, it is estimated that using the renewable energy systems in place, the country will be able to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 72,871 tonnes annually.
Eliminating single-use plastic in the Maldives by 2023 was another major pledge made by President Solih, which he initially expressed during his maiden visit to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2019. The President reiterated his commitment to fulfilling this pledge during his remarks to the People’s Majlis. He alluded to the recently ratified amendment to the import-export act, which vests the President with the power to prohibit the import of single-use plastic items by predetermined deadlines, as part of a gradual phase-out effort. An initial list of such items was publicised on the 30th of December last year.
The President also emphasized that responsible waste management is a key component of conservation. Towards this end, the Government has signed an agreement with Waste Management Corporation (WAMCO) to dispose the accumulated waste in 20 islands within the next seven months, in a safe and sustainable manner.