Delivered 3 March 2016
Delivered by Her Excellency Dr. Hala Hameed, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary / Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations Office at Geneva
The Maldives would like to begin by expressing its appreciation to all the panelists for the insightful presentations this morning.
For decades, the Maldives has advocated for climate change mitigation, given the natural susceptibility of our low-lying islands. Rising sea levels and temperatures have adverse effects on human rights, including the right to health of people around the world, especially those of Small Island Developing States such as ours. The Maldives is a strong supporter of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment for all. We recognize that climate change poses a threat to the right to life protected under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The Maldives is continuously witnessing the adverse impacts of climate change and its associated impact on human health. The devastating Asian Tsunami of 2004 was a grave wake up call to the inherent structural vulnerabilities of Maldives. In addition to the loss of lives and displaced populations, almost two thirds of the country’s GDP was washed away within minutes. The health hazards that emerged were immense due to the lack of safe water supply, sanitation and waste management; not to mention the psychological and psychosocial effects on the mental health of the people.
More recently, during the past six years, more than ninety percent of our inhabited islands have reported flooding due to tidal surges and extreme weather events. For thirty-seven percent of these islands tidal swells have been an annually recurring event. Salt water intrusion and contamination of groundwater aquifers, risked safe drinking water, and impacted on the local vegetation. This has resulted in the excessive use of chemical fertilizers posing greater risks for human health.
Unsafe water and sanitation is a global health risk, increasingdengue, diarrhoea causing significant morbidity among children and adults. Therefore, the Government of Maldives, is investing in the provision of safe drinking water, improving sanitation and waste management in the islands.
The Maldives is strongly committed to combatting climate change through mitigation and adaptation. We reaffirm our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and we are currently in the process of incorporating the SDGs into our national development strategy.
In conclusion, the Maldives will continue to work with the international community to raise awareness and support on the devastating effects of climate change. We look forward to the development of innovative methods to prevent future violations of the rights to clean, safe and healthy environments in the face of an ever-changing climate.
Thank you, Mr. President.