UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau kicks off Maldives' Climate Action Journey

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The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador for Global Goals, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau arrived in Maldives on 1 October 2017, to help kick off the country’s climate action journey. He is helping spread the message that the Maldives cannot achieve the Global Goals without safeguarding the environment and that each and every one of us needs to play an active part in creating a brighter tomorrow for all. 

During his time in Maldives, he visited several UNDP project sights working on climate related issues around the country.

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We kicked off our Climate Action Journey in Laamu Atoll. It's the second largest atoll in Maldives in terms of land mass. It boasts some of the richest biodiversity in the country, both on land and under water. However, when we took a closer look we found out the islands and its people are highly vulnerable to the devastating impacts of climate change.

The first island we visited was Maabaidhoo, home to one of the four wetlands in Laamu Atoll. The breathtaking mangrove and wetland ecosystem serves as a natural barrier against soil erosion, refills the island’s freshwater lens, and is home to a range of birds and marine species

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It was rewarding to see how passionate the island’s Women’s Development Committee was towards conserving and protecting this unique ecosystem. In partnership with UNDP, the members worked with the island council to declare this site as a locally protected site. They have also made a viewing platform to promote awareness on the important role mangroves play in protecting the island, their home.

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The island is also impacted by severe beach erosion & tide swells. Sometimes the sea swells take the waves all the way into the middle of the island causing devastation to agricultural plots and people’s homes. We met Muna, who recently lost her entire chilli field during such an event. The sea waves washed over her field and also contaminated the island’s fresh water lens. If Muna had access to fresh water she could have saved her crops by washing off the salinity and replanting them. Now, Muna has no other choice but wait for the ground water to become less salty and attempt to regrow her chilli’s on the same plot.

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We also visited Vilingili, where Nikolaj had the chance to interact with members of a local NGO, Save the Beach, as well as the first female diving course director of Maldives, Zoona. These interactions gave him the opportunity to hear directly from community members on how climate change is impacting the environment and the work they are doing in terms of preservation as well as how Vilingili as a community is addressing the challenges. 

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Climate change is REAL and its impact on people’s livelihood is at an unprecedented scale. We need to promote smart climate planning at an island level. Current data and evidence can be used to map out the impacts of climate change and identify small measures that make a big difference for communities. Take Climate Action now.

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