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Environment Minister Aminath Shauna participates in high-level discussions on World Ocean Day.

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The Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Technology Aminath Shauna  has participated in a virtual event held by The Commonwealth to on the occasion of World Ocean Day 2021. Minister Aminath Shauna addressed a high-level discussion on behalf of His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on how protecting coastal communities & ocean health is critical to achieving economic recovery from COVID-19.

Below is the statement by Minister Aminath Shauna in its entirety:

“Thank you for that warm introduction, Secretary General. On behalf of His Excellency President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, it is my pleasure to address you all on World Ocean’s Day. Thank you again, Secretary General for your kind invitation.

For a country like the Maldives, the Commonwealth Blue Charter ensures an inclusive and equitable approach to ocean economic development and protection. The blue charter enjoys active cooperation from member states to meet essential commitments for sustainable ocean development.

The Maldives is made up of just 1% land and 99% water. We like to think of ourselves not as a small island state, but a large ocean state. Although all states are dependent on the ocean, for the Maldives the ocean is our very essence, our means of existence.

Our lives and livelihoods are closely linked to the ocean. Tourism and Fisheries, our economic sectors, depend on the health of our seas. Our atolls are among the largest reef systems in the world, and act as protection barriers for our low-lying islands. Our reefs are our forests. Our pristine waters are home to a rich marine life, that also provides us food.

The ocean is our workplace, and our playground, but it is now in crisis. The climate crisis is heating the oceans and killing coral reefs, while overfishing and marine plastic pollution are causing more environmental stress.

This is why, last month, the President ratified the Climate Emergency Act, which comprises of a framework for Maldives to work towards achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030. This is a tough target to reach, and we will need financial and technical help from all of our partners to achieve it. But we believe we have more to lose by not setting our ambitions high.

We have also entered into a partnership with the Blue Prosperity Coalition to develop a Marine Spatial Plan that will support our blue economy initiatives with scientific data, ensuring our economic growth is sustainable while simultaneously enhancing marine life. It is a consultative process with communities to understand which areas we must protect now in order to save our common futures.

As a member of the High Ambition Coalition and Global Oceans Alliance, the Maldives has also joined 70 nations in a collaborative effort to protect 30% of the oceans by 2030.

We recognize that plastic has become an essential component of our lives. However, the convenience that single use plastic has provided is a looming threat to our ecosystem and our livelihoods. Which is why the Maldives has committed to phase out single-use plastics by 2023, with a plan to regulate import, production and sales of single-use plastic products.

I am happy to announce that we have started the implementation process this month. From June 1st, it is now illegal to import a range of single use products into the Maldives, including imported water bottles below 500 ml, plastic straws and single use plastic based cutleries. But our efforts to protect our fragile ecosystems will only succeed if other countries also play their part.

 This includes carbon reduction commitments commensurate with 1.5-degrees. Governments must ensure their global commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 14 – life below water which calls to protect 10% of the marine environment by 2020, have been met. Greater global cooperation is needed to establish a system that is effective, science-based and legally enforced to better manage global fish stocks. For the sake of ocean health, sustainable practices cannot only be employed in one place, but throughout the whole migratory path.

As President Solih has stated, “The oceans are our life support systems. The loss of and damage to our marine environments threaten the very existence of our way of life. We have shown we have the power to change the course of nature. Let us act now to steer a path that protects us all.”.

Change course on carbon emissions; on ocean protection; on sustainable fisheries; on plastic pollution…

The Maldives is committed to playing its part on all these issues. And we hope we can encourage other countries to do the same. Thank you.”.

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In Pictures: President Solih meets with the leaders of Adhaalath Party to discuss concerns on Hate Speech Bill.

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China finds 1 billion tons of oil and gas.

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Chinese oil and gas giant PetroChina has found a massive reserve of oil and gas in North Western China.

The oil and gas reserve was found within the Tarim Basin. According to PetroChina, the oil and gas was found in an area deemed as “ultra-deep”.  The Tarim Basin is one of the most challenging areas to explore due to its harsh and complicated  ground conditions. However, it is also highly petroliferous.

Due to this, the output from the basin has significantly increased within the past six years, from 30,000 tons a year to 1.52 million in 2020. It is expected to reach 2 million tons in 2021.

 

Source: Xinhua News Agency.

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Leaked documents show India refused to withdraw military personnel and helicopters from the Maldives even after their Visa’s expired.

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Allegations that Indian influence in the Maldives has been one of the most debated topics in the Maldives. Accusation that India has influenced the last Presidential Election and the current administration is a common topic for political debates. However, a series of documents has been leaked by a local news showing communication between the Maldives Foreign Ministry and the Indian High Commission during the previous administration. The documents show the Government of Maldives requesting the Indian High Commission to withdraw their Helicopter stationed in the Maldives. The documents cement the allegations by the public that India has been increasingly overstepping on the sovereignty of the Maldives.

Below is a timeline of the events, first published in Dhivehi language on “Dhiyares News”.

In a letter dated 22nd April 2018, the Government of Maldives informed the Indian High commission on its decision to return the Helicopter being operated from Addu city by the end of June 2018.  While the letter maintain diplomatic composure, based on the events that took place, it is evident that there was tension between the two parties.

A second letter was sent on 06th May 2018. In the second letter, the Government of Maldives informed the Indian High Commission that the agreement for the helicopter operated out of Laamu atoll had expired on 01st may 2018, and requested its withdrawal by the end of June 2018.

And on 10th June, an additional letter was sent to Indian High Commission. This letter acted as a reminder on the order to withdraw the Indian helicopters and their military personnel by the end of June 2018. It also requested the Indian High Commission to provide a schedule of withdrawal.

The Indian high Commission in Maldives replied with their own letter on 25th June 2018. In their letter, the Indian high Commission stated that Indian government would require “more time” to examine the order to withdraw by the Government of Maldives.

It also noted that the Visa for the Indian military personnel in the Maldives would expire on 30th June 2018, and requested their renewal.

The Government of Maldives replied to this with a  letter dated 27th June 2018, reiterating on the order to withdrawal and to provide a schedule of withdrawal.

Sovereignty at stake?

Based on what happened next, it is clear that the Indian High Commission did not withdraw their helicopters nor their military personnel. It is now a verified fact that the Indian military personnel illegally stationed themselves, against the wishes of then government without even a legal visa. However, with the change of administration, their visa’s and the helicopter agreements were promptly renewed.

The current administration and its President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih which has been marked by its close ties to India, acting as its “yes-man” since his election.

It is clear that India does not seem to view the Maldives as a sovereign nation, and is willing to go against the laws and constitutions of the Maldives and international conventions, to impose their people and influence in the Maldives.

This leak comes following weeks of online protest by locals against the growing Indian influence in the Maldives. Many have accused India of meddling with domestic elections and other issues, to increase their influence in the Maldives.  India’s seemingly unilateral decision to establish a consulate in the southernmost city of Addu has further fueled the allegations. The Hanimaadhoo, military planes, radar systems, helicopters, Police academy and military base near the capital has only exacerbated the situation.

This begs us the question, is our independence and sovereignty at stake?. Does the Maldives need to appeal to the International community that India just won’t remove their military personnel from the Maldives? Are we becoming the next Sikkim ?

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