The Maldives attaches great importance to the protection of the environment. From climate change, to sustainable development, to natural disasters such as the 2004 tsunami, environmental factors have a significant impact on the fortunes of rich and poor countries alike.
The Maldives, being a Small Island Developing State with a fragile and vulnerable environment has strongly advocated and called for the protection of the environment at various international meetings. Moreover, the Maldives actively engages in implementing the outcomes of such meetings such as the Mauritius Declaration.
The Maldives also encourages all States to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, and supports and calls for international cooperation for a stronger global environmental regime.
Within the SAARC region, too, the Maldives has actively campaigned for greater attention to environmental concerns. In addition to hosting several ministerial level conferences to address various aspects of regional co-operation to advance environmental protection, the Maldives also hosts the SAARC Coastal Zone Management Centre.
Environmental protection remains a major focus of collaboration with international development partners. The Male Breakwaters and Sea Wall project, funded through Japanese government grant assistance, under which coastal defences have been built around the island of Male, the capital, home to over one-third of the population, cost nearly US$70 million. What saved the capital from destruction when the tsunami swept through the entire archipelago was this coastal ring.
The tsunami recovery programme includes the innovative concept of Safe Islands, with higher elevation, flood proof shelters, coastal defences, and conservation features.