Maldivians at risk of becoming climate refugees: President Solih

Flooded roads of Addu City following heavy rain | Photo: The Times of Addu

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has stated that Maldivians deserve a safe place to live as much as anyone else in the room noting the mounting threat of Maldivians becoming climate refugees.

He made this statement at the Commonwealth Leaders at the World Leaders’ Summit, a side-event of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

Addressing the state leaders and dignitaries, President Solih revealed that he was not speaking about bleached corals or acidified oceans only when referring to the adverse effects of climate change on the Maldives, but also of the struggles of real people, Maldivian citizens, attempting to live dignified lives while faced with the mounting threat of becoming climate refugees.

If we fail to make the right decisions … my people would be stripped of their livelihoods, their identity and their homes.

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

“We may be small in numbers, but in no way are we any less deserving of the right to live in our own country, without the threat of impending disaster.” He said.

“If we fail to make the right decisions here and now, billions more will suffer, including the entire population of the Maldives.” The President stated.

Continuing his statement, President Solih stated that now is the most crucial time for worldwide friendship, inclusivity and cooperation, as climate change is a threat to global security, prosperity and socio-economic development. While the Maldives contributes very little to global greenhouse emissions, he explained, we continue to show leadership and advocate for greater efficiency. He drew attention to the Maldives’ ambitious plans to achieve Net Zero by 2030, questioning why other nations are not as ambitious as the Maldives in their commitments and plans.

Highlighting that the climate ambitions of the Maldives and other small states are echoed by the Commonwealth, President Solih again reiterated the need for easier access to climate financing. The current climate finance landscape is a maze that deters the very countries that it is meant to support, he stated. He implored the Commonwealth to step in to make the funds more accessible, hindered now by strict eligibility criterion and high transaction costs, among others. He also urged to scale up the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub.

Ending his statement, President Solih entreated world leaders to make the right decisions, underlining the urgency of the situation at hand and warning of the dependency of millions across the world on the decisions made at COP26.