040_Global12_Spotlight_MaldivesRS_V6

Global issue 12

SpotlightMaldives  had to be evacuated. Islands also naturally There have been some environmental hit $350 million in 2012 – a quarter of the change shape with the seasons, forcing the successes, such as a ban on shark fishing, country’s entire GDP. resorts to conduct extensive engineering but Nasheed’s successor, President Mo- Nasheed’s energy advisor, Mike Mason, and use sandpumping to retain the much hamed Waheed, is not gripped by the same a former mining engineer and early pioneer sought-after beaches. environmental fervour. “The good news is of carbon trading, who was one of many The most immediate global warming- that the Maldives is not about to disappear,” environmental experts pulled into Nash- related threat comes from the rising sea he told a recent conference of business peo- eed’s orbit, was on the brink of transform- temperatures; these cause coral bleaching, ple in Sri Lanka. ing the country’s energy space at the time which leads to a dead, skeletal, colourless The new environment minister, Dr Mari- of the transfer of power. He had lined up reef that eventually crumbles, leaving the yam Shakeela, has proposed a voluntary $200 million in solar energy investment by islands unprotected. The El Niño climate tax on tourists to try to raise $100 mil- soliciting the World Bank for bank guaran- event of 1998 killed more than 90 percent lion towards carbon neutrality, but imple- tees and sovereign risk insurance to lower of shallow water coral in the Maldives, and mentation will be controversial given the the cost of capital for energy investors. The a second prolonged rise in sea temperature prospect of steep sales tax increases and project – described by the World Bank as in 2010 killed that which was only just the Maldives’s existing reputation as an al- one of the most “exciting and transforma- starting to recover. ready expensive destination. tive” of its kind – was due to be signed into The effect is compounded by human President Waheed told the Rio+20 sum- existence on 7 February, but as confidence impact. Resorts dump the remains of their mit in June this year: “I believe most of fell, investors pulled out. food in the sea, upsetting the nutrient bal- the tourists who come to the Maldives are Nasheed’s climate change advisor, UK- ance and risking algal blooms that smother environmentally conscious and quite happy based author, journalist and environmental the coral, while dredging work covers vast to make a contribution towards making the activist Mark Lynas, has resigned along areas with sedimentation and similarly suf- Maldives carbon neutral.” with Mason. “I think that the Maldives is focates the reefs. Many resorts also carry Renewable energy is an economic neces- basically a has-been in international cli- out mosquito fogging, using chemicals that sity for the Maldives. Oil used for power mate circles now,” Lynas said recently. “I are highly toxic to marine life, and empty generation and driving the country’s fishing see no prospect of it achieving Nasheed’s their chlorinated swimming pools into the and transport fleet was imported at a cost of 2020 carbon-neutral goal, even if that goal ocean. $240 million in 2011, a figure expected to is still official policy.”l Contrasting visions for young Maldivians Poor educational and employment opportunities have left young people caught between the lure of Western culture and the growing influence of conservative religious elements Yameen Rasheed in Malé A little over 50 percent of the Maldivian world. The high cost of living means that population is under the age of 25. While a families can rarely afford to pay for their young population is usually a reservoir of children’s education. lands, spread over an area of 90,000 sq. km. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider family of ten children, Shaheen was forcedAishath Shaheen, a young professional,says that social problems resulting fromovercrowding and urban congestion have adrastic effect on the youth. The eldest in a--The Maldives consists of 1,192 tiny is potential, this scattered country faces some unique challenges when it comes to har nessing the potential. Of these, around 200 are populated, but to put her aspirations to pursue higher edu- the population of many islands is less than cation on hold, as she had to start earning 500 apiece. As a result of this fragmented immediately after school to pay rent and geography, the Asian Development Bank fend for her younger siblings. A young girl from the village of Kolhuvaariyaafushi estimates that the unit cost of operating Ali Naafiz, a student, also spoke of his schools and other services is four to five higher education abroad. frustrations after leaving school as banks times higher than that of continental devel- Young and hopeful Maldivian students didn’t provide education loans. “Bank of oping countries. who complete their A Levels quickly find Maldives recently introduced an educa- The development of the education sec- themselves saddled with “big dreams and tion loan scheme, but it is really difficult to tor has been inadequate. About 70 percent bigger frustrations, due to the lack of fi- secure a loan. You have to mortgage your of all the students who attempt O Levels nances and scholarship opportunities,” says house or other valuable asset, but most of do not pass the examinations and only Aminath Shareehan, former president of an us don’t have houses in that value,” he said. around 3,000 students go on to study A NGO for youth development. The government civil service was once Levels every year. Until 2011, the Mal- The tiny island of Malé, with a popula- seen as a stable source of income for youth dives had no local university that issued tion of over 130,000, is one of the most but, with a burgeoning youth population degrees, forcing students to seek their densely populated capital cities of the and a severely weakened economy, the 40 lwww.global-briefing.org fourth quarter 2012global


Global issue 12
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