Remarks by UNDP Resident Representative, Tony Lisle - Building Partnerships for Climate Change Adaptation Forum

Jun 27, 2013

His Excellency President of the Republic of Maldives
Minister of State for Tourism, Arts and Culture
Minister of State for Housing and infrastructure
Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy
Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture
Officials of ministries, councilors, representatives from resorts and other valuable members of Maldivian tourism industry
Members of NGOs and associations
Ladies and gentlemen

Good Morning.

Climate change is a threat to the whole world. It threatens to disrupt all aspects of human life, ranging from how we live and where we live, how we carry out our daily activities and how we maintain industries.

Maldives, because of its delicate geographical features, is highly vulnerable to climate change. And since the Maldivian tourism industry is very much dependent on these geographical features, it is extremely vulnerable to climate change.

This industry that provides jobs to more than 22 thousand Maldivians, could fundamentally be altered by impacts of climate change.  Climate projections for Maldives by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, indicate increasing likelihood of conditions detrimental to the tourism sector, in the medium to long term.

The Maldivian tourism operators and communities are regularly exposed to heavy rainfall, sea swells and storm surges. Climate change threatens to tremendously intensify these phenomenons, increasing the risks associated with daily operation of business and its value chain. Rising sea levels, acidification and coral bleaching threatens to have a longer term impact that could cripple the industry.

But, all around the world, we are seeing communities and industries adapting to the changing climate. Despite the very real and extreme threat predicted, we are seeing communities and industries all the around the world working together to fight against the impacts of climate change, and we have witnessed how Maldives is taking bold moves in numerous areas to become resilient in the face of climate change. The Tourism Adaptation Project will support many of these community and industry driven endeavors by closely working with all stakeholders involved.

The Tourism Adaptation Project was initiated by Government of Maldives in partnership with United Nations Development Program to promote adaptation in the Maldivian tourism industry and increase the resilience of the industry. We have been very excited about this project from the beginning because it anchors on building partnerships. Today we are already seeing how this project is making this a reality.

I am delighted to see representatives of all key leading ministries in today’s workshop. This demonstrates the government’s commitment to address the challenges of climate change in a multi- sectoral and coordinated manner. Also, the leadership and engagement of the private sector in the efforts of the government is critical.

These efforts can be sustainable only with strong support from the private sector. In UNDP we are pleased to be part of this important process of bringing the private and public sector together to address a common challenge to all of us.

Today we are starting a process that will enable us to take a key step to enhance and strengthen the resilience of the Maldivian tourism Industry. Through discussions in this workshop and activities that follow, the project will demonstrate ways that the tourism operators and communities can adapt to withstand the effects of climate change. The lessons learnt from these demonstrations will be shared widely so that they can be replicated and expanded.

Often it is sharing of information and lessons learnt that encourage partners in industries to intensify their efforts in addressing common issues. Challenges associated with the impacts of climate change are shared by all business partners and communities. The best way to address these common issues is by forming partnerships - partnerships that rely on each other’s strengths to achieve mutual benefits.

As you consider the technical findings that will be presented to you today in the areas of waste management, water management, climate risk financing and others, and as you formulate ways of addressing vulnerabilities highlighted in these reports, it will be important to focus on how to leverage on each other’s strengths to address these common vulnerabilities. As an industry, partnering with other members of the industry to find new ways to address these common issues will surely be beneficial to all. Equally important are partnerships between tourist operators and communities.  These partnerships should be further strengthened to address the vulnerabilities of the communities so that the resilience of the tourism industry and its value chain as a whole can be enhanced to with stand the impacts of climate change. 

In increasing the resilience of the Maldivian tourism industry, each one of us has a role to play. Government agencies, NGOs, associations and the private sector, we all have to work together and share information so that we become better partners in our efforts to make the Maldivian tourism industry resilient to the effects of climate change. It is a challenging task before us, but I believe, with strong partnerships, we can make small but important incremental steps towards achieving a Maldives that is more resilient to climate change.

Thank you for your attention and I wish you fruitful discussions.

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