Maldives to reiterate climate combat finance bump at SIDS Conference

Maldives President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu along with the Vice President and other dignitaries before he embarked for Antigua and Barbuda to attend the 4th International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) -- Photo/ President's Office

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu said he will call for reforms on the funding mechanism, extended to Small Island Developing Nations (SIDS) at this year's International Conference on SIDS.

President Muizzu will deliver the National Statement at the Plenary of the Summit on May 27, 2024.

In an opinion piece President Muizzu wrote to The Guardian, he highlighted the dangers Maldives face over rising sea levels owing to climate change. In his opinion piece, the Maldives head of state further noted that Maldivian citizens have long been raising concerns related to climate change impact.

"For decades, Small Island Developing States (Sids) like the Maldives have been bearing the brunt of global warming with minimal support," Dr. Muizzu wrote. 

He also noted that while Maldives is liable for just 0.003 percent of global emissions, it was among the first countries to endure the existential consequences of the climate crisis.

"Wealtheir nations have a moral responsibility to communities like ours. yet Sids are given only 14 percent of the finance that the lease developed countries receive," he added.

Dr. Muizzu pointed out that this was due to the outdated nature of the current global financial architecture, and its use of legacy metrics such as gross national income (GNI) and gross domestic product (GDP), which "skews our economic reality, painting Sids wealther than we are." He added that due to this reason, Sids have been barred from "critical funding opportunities."

For the Maldives, due to its healthy tourism industry, the country is ranked as an emerging economy and "therefore shut out from the cheaper financing set aside for the lowest income countries."

Dr. Muizzu claimed that the international financial institutions are failing to account for existential threat climate crises poses countries like the Maldives.

He stressed that unless urgent reassessments are not made on "how funding is delivered and interest rates are calculated, and what projects are deemed worthy of climate resiliency funding", millions of people in small nations risk losing their homes.

"Behind these statistics are 65 million people living on land on which the impacts of climate change are clearly visible," he added. He also noted that the average temperatures in the country are rising, while storms are becoming more frequent and "fiercer than ever."

Dr. Muizzu further noted that the recent "feels-like" temperature, which "can be attributed to factors such reduced cooling winds and heightened humidity," soared to 46 degrees Celsius.

"The international community must understand that we rely on external financing to prepare for and recover from the climate crisis that its overconsumption has caused," he continued, and noted that with adequate international funding, countries like the Maldives could advance critical climate initiatives.

He wound the opinion piece to a conclusion, by announcing the decision to call for the global adoption of a multidimensional vulnerability index (MVI), a new measure that reflects SIDS' inherent vulnerabilities.

"The MVI is a vital tool that can help small islands access the resources we urgently need. It is designed to provide a true reflection of our challenges by considering factors beyond mere economic output and acknowleding our unsustainable structural vulnerabilities," he added.

If the index is adopted, Dr. Muizzu said that the international communities can begin to rethink the criteria used to decide how projects are funded and spart a wave of sustainable development across small nations.

He further noted that multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and sovereign governments alike, "must be willing to embrace this challenge".

President Muizzu departed for the official visit to St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda, on Friday to attend this year's International Conference on SIDS.

Besides delivering the National Statement, President Muizzu is also scheduled to meet with a number of foreign dignitaries, and deliver remarks at some of the side events of the summit.