Delivered on 1 March 2017
Delivered by H.E Dr Hala Hameed, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Maldives to the United Nations Office at Geneva
My delegation commends the work of the Independent Expert on the Effects of Foreign Debt and the Special Rapporteur for their exemplary work and thanks them both for the comprehensive reports.
The Maldives recognizes that adequate housing is an integral component to a life of dignity, security and inclusion. The Maldives National Human Rights Framework launched in December last year embodies the linkages between the Sustainable Development Goals and key objectives for strengthening human rights in the Maldives and Right to adequate standard of living is one of the key objectives of this framework.
The unique geographical dispersion of islands poses inherent challenges for the country to meet adequate housing demands of the increasing urban population. The dispersion contributes to difficulty in mobility and the provision of governmental services. Being extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change further exasperates these challenges. As such, enhancing urban resilience and promoting sustainable urban development is of vital importance.
Under the National Housing Policy the Government has undertaken ambitious programmes to relieve the shortages faced. To expand the Maldives’ land area, land reclamation and shore protection projects are being carried out on several islands. As part of the Governments’s Social Housing Projects, construction of a total of 1,500 housing units have been completed. The construction of a total of 600 housing units is planned to commence during this year.
The right to adequate housing-as an association of the right to life, is a condition that threatens the welfare of thousands of human beings every day, but somehow continues to not receive the attention it deserves. We would like to end by posing a question to the special rapporteur if she could kindly enlighten us with best practices that a small island developing could benefit from in the context of dispersed population and the growing demands of the urban population?
As is the case with many of us SIDS, debt sustainability is a critical issue, which threatens to reverse our developmental gains. Debt crisis is costly and disruptive and is often followed by cuts in public spending. There is no path to growth and no achievement in poverty eradication with unsustainable debt overhang.
As a small island developing state, the Maldives faces many vulnerabilities which directly affect our ability to mobilize resources to meet our developmental needs. These include small economies and populations, high transport and communication costs linked to remoteness from markets, and exposure to environmental shocks.
I would like to end by noting that though we enjoy a robust world-class tourism industry that has become the backbone and foundation of our economy, the Maldives remains extremely vulnerable to external shocks.