UNDP to Assist the Tourism Sector Adapt to Climate Change

Maldives Promotion House – The Ministry of Tourism and UNDP recently signed a USD3.3 million project to assist the Maldivian tourism sector to adapt to the climate change.

During the signing ceremony the UN Resident Representative for Maldives, Andrew Cox said that as the tourism sector represented 30 percent of the economy and 60 percent of the country’s foreign exchange receipts, “the future of the Maldives is wrapped up in the tourism sector.”

“Right now there is a great deal of variety in how resorts handle the environment and climate change issues,” Cox said. “Some have this as their focus, the basis of their product, while others, it’s fair to say, do not.”

He also explained how the project would seek to help the Ministry of Tourism and the industry develop its own regulations and building and planning codes for new resorts.

Developing environmentally-sound physical infrastructure, energy efficient buildings and practices, climate resilient fresh water management, flood-proofing, waste water management, protection of coastal ridges, reefs and vegetative belts, and diversification of energy sources are also included in the project.

“We are also looking at assessing market-based risk financing,” Cox said. “The Maldives is very vulnerable to natural hazards and disasters, but there are insurance products that can reduce that risk.”

The project is also expected to establish some 10 community-based adaption projects between tourism-associated communities and operators.

“We often hear of tensions between resorts and communities,” Cox said. “This will focus on common responsibility, the management of common resources. What is good for a resort can be good for the island next to it. Rather than have a charity relationship between resorts and local islands, we want to try to build stronger partnerships.”

Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa also spoke at the ceremony. “We have resorts in the Maldives that are held up as among the best examples in the world,” Zulfa said.

“The Maldives has risen to the top among the world’s most exclusive destinations due in no small part to the competitive position derived from its unique natural island environment and surrounding underwater beauty. Climate change threatens to destroy this beautiful environment and along with it, the livelihoods of many Maldivians,” she said.

“This project aims to address ways in which the Maldives and especially its tourism industry can minimize its vulnerability to climate change,” she said.

“This project will contribute to the government’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2020, and will support the integration of adjustment measures which need to be implemented in response to climatic changes into development policies, plans, programs, projects and actions.”

Following consultations throughout the rest of this year, the first wave of projects is expected to begin in early 2012.

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