Archive for VULNERABLE

Climate Change Pushes Maldives into Uncharted Waters; Ecosystem-based Adaptation is Imperative for its Survival.

Coral bleaching 2010, Maniyafushi, 0ver 50% corals bleached but recovered causing little mortality.

In a new United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report titled, the “Working Group II Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report” released on 24 March 2014, like its past reports,  scientists predict apocalyptic consequences unless the world changes course immediately and dramatically, the fundamental systems that support human civilization are at risk.

The latest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says the effects of warming are “Risk of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states, due to sea-level rise, coastal flooding, and storm surges.”

The effects of warming on the Maldives further push it into uncharted waters. Maldives is a coral atoll based nation and coral ecosystem adds significantly to the national economy. Maldives tourism heavily depends on the goods and services the reefs provide in addition to the coastal protection they provide.

Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is primarily due to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently projected the rise of the sea level worldwide by two feet by 2100 as a result of melting ice sheets and the expanding of the sea by warming seawater.

2010, Maniyafushi, partially dead coral.

Temperature increase human induced coral bleaching.

Warming of the sea and changes to the weather pattern has been associated with coral bleaching leading to wide spread damage to coral reefs at a global scale.

Coral bleaching is caused when rising water temperatures stress the coral, forcing the coral to expel the algae it uses to obtain food and other nutrients.

When water temperatures rise even slightly (1-2 Degrees Celsius), algae leave the coral polyp causing the coral to lose its colour and eventually die due to insufficient food source.

Coral bleaching in 1998 in Maldives, severely beached 90% of hard corals in shallow waters. Bleaching was also recorded at depths in access of down to 30m. Post bleaching survey of the reefs at several location throughout the atolls across the country by Marine Research Centre showed a little over 2% on in 2004 shows recovery of 2 to 29% live coral, but the recovery extremely varies between the sites. Southern atolls showed faster recovery whereas the central and northern atoll showed slower recovery indicating regional differences in terms of reef recovery.

Bandos house reef, 2010 bleaching. A good recovery at one of the monitoring sites by MRC as part of long term monitoring of reefs initiated in 1998. The impact of 2010 bleaching was not significant since 90%of bleached corals recovered.

With IPCC predictions in increase in frequency of bleaching at global level, Maldives also witnessed coral bleaching event again in June 2010, similar to coral bleaching since of 1998 bleaching event. However, damage to the reefs due to bleaching of 2010 was far less that of 1998. Previous exposure to severe condition of bleaching may have resulted in conditioning the coral to recurrent exposure. This perceived increase in resilience is seen a positive indicator that the reefs can buffer extreme environmental pressure.

With little sign of reducing climate related pressure it is important to reduce and manage human induced pressures on these important ecosystems. Adaptation to climate change by changing the attitudes society to use natural resources at ecosystem level has always been important. The goods and services provided by the coral reefs and the pressures on these services are now been understood in the context of their capacity to natural and human pressures at ecosystem level.

Therefore, ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change is vital to Maldives to ensure these ecosystems are maintained to ensure inter generational equity.


Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change is vital to Maldives

Conserving terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems and restoring degraded ecosystems should be vital for the overall goals of National Climate Change Adaption Plan for the Maldives. The atoll island ecosystems play a crucial role in providing number of ecosystem goods and services that are necessary for well-being of the people and the very survival of the islands in adapting to climate change.

Huraa Mangrove. Protected but surrounding development of various infrastructures are encroaching causing concerns.

Coral reefs act as first line of defence against wave action and storm surges and reduce coastal erosion.

Shallow Lagoon and sea grass beds of island in between the reef and beach act as second line of defence.

The coastal vegetation (Heylhi) with salt tolerant plants act as third line of defence.

Mangroves play vital role in protecting the atoll islands from coastal erosion by the waves, stop erosion and protect the islands.

Even though atoll ecosystems provide a wide range ecosystem based services, the degradation of many ecosystems due to the local human activities are drastically reducing the capacity to protect the islands, livelihood and loss of biodiversity.

The poor waste management and disposal via dumping untreated waste near coastal shores hamper coral growth and damage coral reefs. Untreated sewage into coastal areas creates potential problems such nutrient enrichment, algal blooms and eutrophication. Such situations badly upset coral reef.

It is imperative to protect the coral reefs, sea grass, coastal vegetation and wetlands to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change. Conserving island terrestrial, freshwater and marine island ecosystems and restoring degraded ecosystems should be vital for the overall goals of National Climate Change Adaption Plan for the Maldives.



VULNERABLE, the Bluepeace exhibition on the vulnerability of Maldives to climate change, will be hosted by The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies on Monday, September 20, 2010. The exhibition will be part of an event organised by the school and named VULNERABLE MALDIVES which will also feature a conversation with Dr Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik, Vice President of the of Maldives.

“The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies is privileged to host a conversation and reception about climate change and its effects on a sinking nation with Dr. Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik, Vice President of the Republic of Maldives. Rapid seas level rise caused by global warming threatens the very existence of the Maldives, being the lowest country in the world. Talks by the Vice President will be accompanied by Vulnerable, a photography exhibition documenting the plight of the fragile coral islands of the Maldives, a nation subject to being erased, as it tries to safeguard an age-old culture and its beautiful atolls.

Yale University students have had the honor of working with the Maldives government, aiding in international environmental negotiations and climate change issues. Dr. Manik’s visit to Yale is testament to this relationship as well as a commitment to maintain an open, action-oriented, and progressive dialog about climate change and the its detrimental impacts on nations and people around the world – and none so much as small island states such as the Republic of Maldives.”

VULNERABLE exhibition documents the vulnerability of the fragile coral islands of the Maldives to climate change, through pictures from talented Maldivian photographers. Bluepeace appreciates the work of the students and the management of The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies in setting up the exhibition.



Bluepeace has taken its photo exhibit ‘Vulnerable’ to the Hay Festival Wales, set in the amazingly beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park, in a tented village in Hay-on-Wye, Wales. The exhibit, depicting how vulnerable the Maldives is to the impacts of climate change, was displayed at the festival on June 3. Hundreds of people visited the exhibition at the Hay Festival.

The High Commission of the Maldives in the United Kingdom and the National Centre for the Arts (NCA) of the Maldives supported Bluepeace in taking ‘Vulnerable’ to Wales.

Maldivian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Dr Farahanaz Faizal, accompanied by her staff, participated at the launch of the Hay Maldives event on June 3. The launch was marked with traditional Bodu Beru music, cultural games, Maldivian cuisine and a coconut scraping competition.

By taking the exhibit to the Hay Festival, Bluepeace aims to highlight the vulnerability of the Maldives to climate change and how a culture that has been preserved for centuries could be lost because of global warming and rising seas. The Hay Festival, which attracts poets, writers, artists and musicians, is the perfect gathering to deliver the message that more action is needed to battle climate change on a global level.

President Mohamed Nasheed told an audience at Hay Festival through a video link on 29 May that a huge campaign of direct street action was needed to change the climate change debate in the United States. Nasheed said it was the US which was the biggest obstacle to a global treaty on reducing carbon emissions, and not China and India.

“What we really need is a huge social 60s-style catalystic, dynamic street action. If the people in the US wish to change, it can happen. In the 60s and 70s, they’ve done that,” Nasheed said, referring to the anti-war activism of the 60s and 70s.

While the Maldives is calling for increased global activism to reduce carbon emissions, it has also started promoting cultural tourism in a bid to open the white sandy beaches to different types of travellers. The High Commission of the Maldives in the UK and the Hay Festival is brining the festival to the Maldives from 14 to 17 October 2010.

“The Festival project seeks to celebrate the cultural riches of the archipelago civilisation and to investigate what is special and unique about island life and mindset and to place that in context with the opportunities and challenges faced through climatic change,” Hay Festival said on its website.

“The Festival will provide a platform for focusing international attention on the Maldives, bringing together a selection of the best international and local artists from the fields of literature, art, science, drama, music, poetry and comedy. The Festival will also provide an opportunity for Maldivians to celebrate their own intrinsic, artistic culture,” Hay Festival said.

Wales is the third country where Bluepeace exhibited ‘Vulnerable’, a collection of amazing photos from talented Maldivian photographers. In December 2009, Bluepeace took the exhibit to Klimaforum09, the people’s climate summit held in Copenhagen, Denmark, coinciding with the COP15 conference. In April 2010 Bluepeace displayed a collection of photos from ‘Vulnerable’ at a symposium on Maldives titled Exploring the Contours of Democracy in the Maldives at New Delhi, India. In April the same collection was on display at a popular café in Delhi as well.

Bluepeace launched the exhibition online on October 24, 2009, the International Day of Climate Action. The exhibition was planned to be launched in Republican Square in Male’, Maldives, on October 24. However, Bluepeace was forced to cancel the physical exhibition scheduled for October 24, when Male’ Municipality backtracked on its offer of the Republican Square for the event.


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