- The Maldivian government has ignored or ignored environmental protection laws, increasing the risk of flooding and other damage to the island’s communities.
- Maldivian authorities do not heed the mitigation requirements mandated by environmental assessment reports and do not provide resources to continuously monitor the environmental impacts of development projects.
- International climate finance providers in the Maldives should require robust assessments of the potential harms of land reclamation and other development projects and the implementation of appropriate mitigation measures.
(Brussels) – Maldives government land reclamation projects ignore or violate environmental protection laws, increasing the risk of flooding and other harm to island communities, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. mentioned in. Land reclamation projects are often rushed, lack proper mitigation and monitoring, and proceed without sufficient public consultation. The Maldives’ newly elected president, Mohamed Muiz, should ensure that human rights and environmental protection are at the center of development policy.
The 21-page report, “‘We are not yet healed’: Communities affected by land reclamation projects in the Maldives,” states that the Maldives government has been working on the It documents how communities were not consulted. Relax mitigation requirements and provide resources for continued monitoring of development projects on Kulhudhufushi Island in the north and Addu Atoll in the south. These deficiencies are further harming populations already at risk from impacts such as changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, loss of biodiversity, coastal erosion and increased flooding.
“The international community needs to do more to help the Maldives adapt to climate change, but the Maldives does not have a free pass to ignore its own environmental laws and international obligations,” said Patricia Gosman, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. It hasn’t been given to me.” She said: “The Maldivian government should ensure that land reclamation and other development policies do not violate the livelihood rights and security of at-risk island communities.”
The Maldives has enacted several laws to prevent such damage, but enforcement is lax. Poorly regulated development has robbed the islands of their natural resources, depriving local communities of access to natural resources such as fresh water, public lands, and fruit trees. Large-scale land reclamation damages the fragile coral reefs that underlie the atolls and act as natural barriers to limit the effects of storms, floods, tsunamis, and sea level rise.
In Kulhudufushi, the government ignored environmental regulators and filled in 70 percent of the island’s mangroves to build a new airport. The loss of mangrove forests harms already-at-risk local communities, often destroying livelihoods and pushing people into poverty. A small business owner in Kulhudufushi spoke of the economic impact she and other women suffered when wetlands were destroyed to make way for the airport. “We were growing bananas, but the trees were torn up for development,” she said. “Now we have to import bananas. For us, development means imported fruit that no one can afford to buy.”
Climate change poses an immediate existential threat in the Maldives, with 80 percent of the islands less than 1 meter above sea level and many experiencing severe coastal erosion, salt water intrusion and other climate change impacts. . The Maldives has a strong voice in international forums on climate-related issues. But governments’ domestic policies are betraying calls for global action on climate change, as they undermine or sidestep key mitigation measures to promote tourism and other infrastructure development projects. .
The Maldives government is committed to tackling climate change and is seeking financial support for adaptation. Countries and institutions funding climate change must continue to do so, but they must also encourage the Maldives government to enforce environmental protection laws, ensure independent oversight by the Environmental Protection Agency, and engage with local island communities. It is also required that consultations be sought.
“The new Maldives government has an opportunity to reverse development practices that are increasing threats to livelihoods and a safe environment,” Gosman said. “The Muizu government should respect the rights of people in affected communities and adopt practices that protect the Maldives from further environmental degradation.”