29.11.2019 - Male'

Honourable Minister Ms. Zaha Waheed, special invitees. A very good afternoon.

It’s a great honour to stand in front an audience with a noble cause – all of you who have taken the responsibility of safeguarding our environment, planning cautiously to live harmoniously with it, and managing the ecosystems in its natural state and sustain it for the generations to come.

Thank you, all the NGOs present here today, the actions that you are taking, which, undoubtedly will impact the future of our beautiful islands of Maldives.

The principles of SDGs, People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership, are at the heart of small grants programmes (SGP). Communities know how to achieve these goals, because communities are where people and nature live peacefully for sustainable prosperity. This is the reason why community-driven initiatives are not only desirable but also effective.  

The SGP works directly with Civil Society Organization (CSOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) mostly in vulnerable and often remote areas for initiatives that conserve and restore the environment, while enhancing people’s livelihoods and wellbeing. SGP empowers communities by applying the principle of “thinking globally, acting locally” with financial and technical assistance.

My admiration to SGP communities and initiatives continues to grows deeper and deeper, when I see projects on the ground.

Some of the initiatives I had the pleasure to visit includes: 

Agro-forestry in Hulhumeedhoo S. Hulhumeedhoo, a project by a very active women NGO Meedhoo Ekuveringge Cheynu (MEC), to help protection and planting of trees in farms and agro forestry systems.  These systems can serve as important, locally achievable and cost effective steps in the sustainable development of the lsland Communities of Hulhumeedhoo, which rely heavily on agriculture. I was impressed by how a small seed funding could help local communities in a sustainable way.

Inclusive communities initiatives deliver the promise of SDGs, by Leaving No One Behind. I highlight some initiatives with specific focus on reducing inequalities and enhancing inclusiveness:

-          CARE Accessible Urban Agriculture and Land Rehabilitation Project by Care Society,

-          Reducing Cost of Service and Reducing Carbon Emissions through use of solar energy by  Maldives Autism Association,

-          Building an accessible emission free transport for persons with disabilities by Maldives Association of Persons with Disabilities (MAPD) and

-          Conserving Kelaa’s Kandoofa – Opening the Door to Nature for People with Disabilities by Island Development and Environmental Awareness Society (IDEAS)

As we proceed with this function, I am sure we would hear and get to witness many more innovative and inspirational work. GEF SGP is considered to be an incubator of innovation and I am eager to explore the results of the Smart Farm that would use sea water for farming by Organic Farmers Association, and see how their innovation could help our communities to apply farming for livelihood in a more sustainable way.

We hope that it will inspire the community in Sh. Milandhoo and other similar communities dispersed throughout the country to realise the inherent value of preserving their environmental resources – our challenge here is to use these precious natural resources sustainably and in a way that does not negatively impact the rich biodiversity that they often contain.

It is our hope and aspiration that such innovative ideas be scaled up to increase the impact. 

Lastly, we are here to celebrate our partnerships: We want to thank the private sector partners who are contributing to scale up some of the small grants programme. State Bank of India (SBI) in the Maldives works with UNDP Maldives to create a Marine Laboratory in partnership with Naifaru Juvenile.

Once again, I thank all the partners here today. Let’s celebrate our joint achievements today, and renew our commitment to sustainable community development

Thank you.

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