US Reporter

Maldivians Take the Helm in Fighting Environmental Degradation

The majority of the Maldives’ islands are barely a few feet above sea level, making it the world’s lowest-lying country. By 2050, 80% of the nation’s 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean would be covered in water, rendering it uninhabitable for the majority of its population, according to NASA.

However, this is not the only issue the country is dealing with. The Maldives is a popular destination for travelers worldwide because of its beautiful and attractive beaches and places. The Maldives received more than 1.7 million visitors annually prior to the outbreak.

The number decreased when the epidemic crippled the tourism industry, but now that the majority of countries have nearly stopped the pandemic, the trend is slowly gaining ground.

Numerous visitors imply that the nation must deal with problems with inappropriate trash disposal. The Maldives tourist board has consistently emphasized the need for individual accountability in terms of how non-biodegradable garbage is disposed of.

That, however, will not completely eliminate cases of inappropriate trash disposal.

The nation’s rich corals have suffered as a result. For the Maldives, the treasure is particularly significant since it helps to define who they are.

However, a 2016 investigation by experts revealed that more than 60% of the Maldives’ pristine reefs were affected by coral bleaching brought on by climate change.

“A large draw for tourism is the healthy ocean environment that visitors come to see. Clearly, this type of environment must be preserved in order to continue attracting high-spending tourism,” James Ellsmoor said, the CEO of Island Innovation.

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The paradox

The tourist industry mostly drives the Maldives’ economy. Frequent tourist visits foster the expansion of regional industries, which mostly thrive in the provision and sale of products and services.

Simply put, the 540,000 people who live in the Maldives heavily rely on the tourist industry.

However, the tourism industry is the one being held accountable for the harm to the environment.

For instance, resorts in the Maldives expend a significant amount of energy each year to serve their millions of visitors. As a result, too much garbage is being released into the environment. In order to protect the environment, experts emphasize that the country’s 150+ resorts should “go green.”

“The high cost of importing fuel to power noisy, polluting generators simply does not make sense when compared to the much lower cost of solar, wind and battery storage,” added Ellsmoor.

The Maldives government announced its measures to save the environment in the face of this problem, aiming for national carbon neutrality by 2030.

The Maldives should outlaw all single-use plastics starting next year. Fortunately, Maldivian resorts have embraced the movement toward sustainability and are leading it, offering the same level of luxurious service while preserving the environment.

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Resorts leading the change

In the past, the Maldives’ waste has gotten little attention. The tourism industry has contributed to the enormous amounts of waste poured into the environment for many years.

However, numerous resorts and facilities have stepped up in response to recent requests to safeguard and preserve the Maldives’ future.

For instance, Soneva Resorts introduced its Eco Centro program. The program collects rubbish from the resort and recycles around 90% of it.

Soneva Resorts also leads the Makers’ Place initiative, which enables people to rethink recycling and add art to it to produce commercial art and items like wall tiles and glassware.

This year saw the start of the Sustainability Lab at Fairmont Maldives, another resort in the Maldives. Plastics discovered nearby and inside the resort would be collected by the lab, which would then reconstruct them for resale.

Through the project, participating Maldivians develop their artistic talents, earn money, and save the environment.

The Fairmont Maldives management claims that they want to be the “first zero-waste-generating resort in the country.”

Sam Dixon, the company’s manager and resident marine biologist, said,”(We are) encouraging the next generation to care passionately about protecting the ecosystem and marine life that inhabits it.”

Photo Credit:  Parley Maldives

Source: CNN

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