On Thursday 15 September 2022, the United States Agency for International Development (US-AID) and the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology of the Maldives signed a grant agreement totalling MVR 2.4 million in an effort to support the island nation's conservation efforts.
While this is the fourth agreement signed between US-AID and the Maldives in 2022, this is the first project signed between US-AID and the Maldivian Government to work toward climate change and mangrove conservation.
According to US-AID, this agreement was signed to support a multi-sectoral, integrated approach to conserving and managing the mangrove and atoll reef system in B. Goidhoo and attract private sector investment through the development of ecotourism products.
The Maldives is known to host at least 150 mangroves on four islands on Laamu Atoll: Hithadhoo, Gan, Maabaidhoo and Gaadhoo. However, little is known about these mangroves and little to no efforts have been put towards the conservation of these mangroves even though they play a vital role in fighting climate change in the Maldives as they absorb carbon dioxide and provide a home for endangered seabirds, fish, sharks and rays.
However, the same mangroves that are helping us fight climate change are at risk of coastal development to accommodate tourism expansion.
When it comes to conservation projects in heavily tourism-based countries like the Maldives, the development of areas like mangroves must be carried out in a manner that fully ensures environmental protection rather than prioritizing them as tourist attractions.
With mangroves playing such a vital function in the Maldives' already fragile environment, this grant-aid, if used correctly, will prove to be one of the most significant investments the government can make in combating climate change.