Monday, December 22, 2008

When climate change leaves millions without a home

Mediaglobal: Lately, there has been much talk about the Pacific islands and rising sea levels, especially about the Maldives. The newly elected president of the Maldives Mohamed Anni Nasheed made international headlines last month when he announced a plan to use his country’s tourism revenues to buy another homeland.

Experts warn that rising sea levels could engulf the 1,200-island nation, whose highest point is a mere 2.3 meters above sea level. Indeed, the Maldives is at the forefront of the battle against climate change. Instead of letting his people become refugees on foreign soil, President Nasheed is looking at plans to relocate all 370,000 people of the Maldives to another country, including India or Iceland.

But until such a feat can be accomplished – that is, if it can be done at all – President Nasheed’s government is looking at resettlement options within his own country. Speaking to MediaGlobal, the Permanent Representative of the Maldives to the United Nations, H.E. Ahmed Khaleel, described the “Safer Islands Strategy” whereby communities living on smaller, less populated and potentially more vulnerable islands would be resettled on larger islands with better natural protection and enhanced coastal defenses.

“Migration and resettlement from smaller to larger islands has become an important prerequisite for development and for our survival,” he said. “My government fully understands the difficulties and the enormity of implementing this formidable task.”…

A beach on the Maldives, shot by KingKurt22, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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