Maldives Attends UN Climate Change Conference (COP27), Calls for Protection for Small Island Developing States
Héloïse Regnault de Montgon
East/South Asia and Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
On November 6, 2022, the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) started in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt. The Maldives is attending the conference, represented by Vice President Faisal Naseem who delivered the country’s national statement on November 7. (Rehan, 2022) Following a conference held in Male on October 12, 2022 entitled “Multi-Stakeholder Consultation with Young People on Climate Action” held in partnership with UNICEF, (Yasir & Zuhury, 2022) Vice President Naseem stated that the consequences of climate change were an increased threat to the Maldives security and that of its population. (Faaiq, 2022)
A UNICEF report found that “Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Maldives are extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.” Due to rising sea levels, the island nation which consists of just 1% land is at risk of becoming uninhabitable by 2050, and could disappear before 2100. This poses a direct threat to the livelihood and security of Maldivians. (Yasir & Zuhury, 2022) Following the election of the Maldives to the UN Human Rights Council on October 11, 2022 for the term 2023-2025, Naseem emphasised the importance of resilience in protecting the population from the effects of climate change. (Faaiq, 2022)
This is in accordance with Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), which states “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing”. (UN Human Rights, 1976) This also corresponds to Article 6 as stated in the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC): “1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life. 2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.” (UN Human Rights, 1990) The Maldives abide by both, as they have ratified the CESCR in 2006 and the CRC in 1990, respectively. (UN Human Rights Treaty Body, n.d)
This is because rise of sea levels would pose an existential threat to inhabitants of the Maldives as well as future generations, involving the loss of housing (which would be engulfed by the sea), food (as a result of overfishing) and natural disasters. Consequently, Maldivian leaders are encouraging their states to take action and reduce global emissions in an effort to offset these consequences. (McConnell, 2022)
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McConnell, T. (2022, January 21). The Maldives is being swallowed by the sea. Can it adapt? National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/the-maldives-is-being-swallowed-by-the-sea-can-it-adapt.
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Rehan, M. (2022, November 5). COP27 important for development plan talks: President's Office.” The Edition. https://edition.mv/news/26219.
Yasir, M. and A. Jala Zuhury. (2022, October 13). Government of Maldives, UNICEF and young people urge climate action now. UNICEF. https://www.unicef.org/rosa/press-releases/government-maldives-unicef-and-young-people-urge-climate-action-now.