President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has addressed the nation on the occasion of World Environment Day, celebrated on the 5th of June every year. In his written address published this morning, President Solih reiterated the importance of preserving our natural ecosystems and ensuring the sustainability of our resources.
World Environment Day this year focuses on ecosystem restoration under the theme, 'Reimagine, Recreate, Restore'. President Solih stated that exercising sustainable management of our natural resources is key to safeguarding our environment for posterity. In this vein, he highlighted that 73 different areas, adding to over 13% of the natural house reefs in the Maldives, had been declared protected. He further noted the Maldives' had 3 atolls previously declared UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.
President Solih stated that protecting our islands and atolls with such rich natural resources would have a positive impact on the economy as well. He detailed that we have over 50,000 persons employed directly and indirectly in the tourism industry and over 17,000 in the fisheries and agricultural industries - 3 industries dependent upon natural resources.
The President further detailed several of the government projects undertaken to ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources, including the plan to declare 20% of Maldivian seas protected by 2030. This plan falls under the worldwide initiative of the Global Ocean Alliance to protect at least 30% of the global ocean as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by 2030. He also reiterated the nation's commitments to sustainable governance of the ocean and environmental resources under the 'Blue Economy' initiative.
President Solih noted that the slightest imbalance caused to our ecosystems take many years to heal naturally, if at all. Therefore, he said, we must look to preserve and protect our resources without causing any distress to our ecosystems. He detailed several important initiatives as such, including sustainable waste management and the ambitious plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. He also noted that several single-use plastics had already been banned from import into the Maldives and more would follow in the coming years. President Solih also drew attention to the renewable energy sources in the Maldives, such as the solar PV hybrid energy systems established throughout the nation totalling over 31.5 megawatts of power.
The President ended his speech with a prayer to Almighty Allah to bless our efforts to protect our natural resources and create a sustainable relationship with our environment and ecosystems.