The Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Technology, Aminath Shauna, on Tuesday, participated in the interactive dialogue 5 entitled “promoting and strengthening sustainable ocean-based economies, in particular for Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries” at the 2022 United Nations Ocean Conference. Minister Shauna is attending the conference, held in Lisbon from June 27 to July 1, 2022, as the special representative of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
The Minister highlighted the importance of finalising the Multidimensional Vulnerability Index that considers the multiple and intersecting vulnerabilities faced by Small Island Developing States (SIDS), large ocean states, and Least Developing Countries (LDCs). She said that steps need to be taken to make it easier for these states to create policies that would help strengthen long-term ocean-based economies.
Minister Shauna also stressed the vulnerability of SIDS, especially in the case of the Maldives. She expressed that the Maldives’ sustenance, livelihoods, and means of income are linked to the oceans, with 60 per cent of its GDP derived from the ocean. She also noted the responsibility of today’s leaders to protect our natural endowment and to pass on the beauty of the oceans to future generations.
The Minister also spoke about how human activities are causing ocean acidification and affecting the migratory patterns of fish, putting our primary food source at risk. She also highlighted the consequences of climate change on the Maldives’ coral reefs. Noting the devastation caused to the Maldives’ marine ecosystem by plastic pollution, the Minister called for increased global ambition and action to preserve the health and wealth of the ocean.
Minister Shauna emphasised that Maldivians do not wish to stand idly while the oceans are dying, stressing several efforts the Maldives uses for ocean-friendly fishing. She said that those include using traditional pole-and-line fishing methods with zero bycatches and enacting legislation to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, which at present is a severe threat to sustainable small-scale fisheries and coastal fishing communities like the Maldives. She also called upon the international community to show their resolve to end IUU fishing.
Moreover, Minister Shauna stated that despite these, the Maldives is subject to high import tariffs from some of the main markets on our fish exports and stressed that sustainability should be economically viable, and for that, we need global support. She also noted President Solih’s decision to ban the import, production, and sale of 13 single-use plastics, aiming to phase out their use by the end of 2030. She also highlighted that 79 marine areas have been designated as protected sites, including 14 percent of the coral reefs.
Despite these efforts, she added that one country cannot protect and preserve the oceans alone, and she called for unified global action in which sustainable fisheries are the norm and countries adopt development practises that include ocean protection and climate resilience. In conclusion, she stated that we need to save our coral reefs by limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.