Support to climate change adaptation and mitigation in Maldives

At a glance

2009-12-01 to 2013-02-01
Completed programmes
Min. of Housing and Environment, World Bank, AusAID
Total budget
7,20 M€
GCCA priority area(s)

Climate Change is a stark reality for Maldivian communities, already experiencing water shortage, damage to homes and infrastructure, damage to food crops from salt-water intrusion and increase in epidemic outbreaks of diseases such as Dengue and Chikungunya due to climate related hazards.

The impacts of climate change are being exacerbated by lack of proper waste and sewage management systems and unsustainable development practices such as sand mining, dredging, reef entrance blasting and inappropriate design and construction of coastal infrastructure has made the islands more fragile and vulnerable.

The overall objectives are to support the country (which is a SID and Middle Income Country), in development and implementation of its climate change strategy and action plan, which aims at building a climate resilient economy and society in Maldives through adaptation to climate change as well as mitigation for a carbon neutral development path.


Maldives is an archipelago of 26 low-lying coral atolls located in a north to south direction on the Laccadives-Chagos submarine ridge in the Indian Ocean. Maldives has a tropical monsoon climate. The south-west monsoon is from May to November and the north-east monsoon is from January to March. Daily temperature varies between 31 C and 23 C. The mean daily maximum temperature is 30.4 C and the mean daily minimum temperature is 25.7 C. Humidity ranges from 73 to 85%.

More than 80% of the islands making up the Maldives are less than 1 meter above mean sea level and 96% are less than 1km2. The low-lying and small size of the islands places the inhabitants, their livelihoods and critical infrastructure at very high risk from the predicted sea level rise. Stresses to the coral reefs such as increase in sea surface temperatures are also alarming since Maldives is heavily reliant on the proper functioning and the survival of the coral reef system.

Moreover, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami demonstrated the vulnerability of Maldives to natural disasters affecting nearly one-third of the population directly by the loss or damage to homes, livelihoods and infrastructure. Studies reveal that, the geographic location of the country, being situated across the equator in the Indian Ocean, increases the vulnerability of Maldives as it exposes the country to different natural hazards such as tropical cyclones, thunderstorms, floods induced by heavy rainfall, storm surges, swell waves, drought, earthquakes and tsunamis.

Maldivian communities are already experiencing water shortage, damage to homes and infrastructure, damage to food crops from salt-water intrusion and increase in epidemic outbreaks of diseases such as Dengue and Chikungunya due to climate related hazards.

The impacts of climate change are being exacerbated by lack of proper waste and sewage management systems and unsustainable development practices such as sand mining, dredging, reef entrance blasting and inappropriate design and construction of coastal infrastructure has made the islands more fragile and vulnerable.

Adaptation to climate change is a priority for the Government of Maldives (GoM). The first NAPA (National Adaptation Plan of Action) identifies several axis of intervention such as critical infrastructures, tourism, fisheries, health, water resources, agriculture and coral reefs biodiversity. But so far few of the identified projects (which often tackle several issues), have been implemented at local level. Insufficient integration of climate change adaptation at the national, centralized level reduces opportunities to implement adaptation activities in government projects. At the same time, the lack of coordinated actions at local levels leads to an insufficient feed-back from the ground to fine-tune and adjust the NAPA and related strategies. This two-fold problem is the main rationale for the designing of this project

Among the environmental issues highlighted by the GoM in the NAPA, waste management is considered as one of the most important and urgent. Importing most of its goods – including food – Maldives produces a huge amount of domestic waste. The problem is aggravated by the high consumption of tourist resorts. So far, most of the waste of the capital city, Malé, and surrounding islands is disposed on a single island, Tilha Fushi, and partially burnt – leading to GHG and dioxin emissions. Many resorts simply dispose their waste into the sea. There are few facilities in the far-flung community islands (about 200), their size (small), culture and remoteness impeding waste management and collection.

Maldives is an important actor in the context of international negotiations on climate change and plays a leading role in the AOSIS (Alliance of Small Island States) group. As a vocal advocate for strong mitigation strategies, Maldives has unilaterally pledged to become a carbon neutral country by 2020 – a difficult and ambitious commitment in the present context. The President also announced at the Rio+20 Summit that Maldives would become the world's first Biosphere Reserve. By and large environmental awareness and commitment have indeed increased recently at the highest levels of the GoM. But commitments are still characterized by a top-down generic approach, while few improvements are taking place at more local levels. In effect, there is a gap between external communication and internal action with low mainstreaming of climate change issues at domestic level.

GCCA's action programme
Geographical scope
Country groups
Initial GCCA/GCCA+ contribution
3,800,000.00 €

Overall objective

Support the country in the development and implementation of its climate change strategy and action plan.


3 projects were implemented through the Climate Change Trust Fund (CCTF) with the following expected results:

  • Improved capacity of GoM and other national stakeholders to develop, formulate, implement and mainstream climate change policies and strategies which are congruent with external commitments;
  • Increased adaptive capacity of Maldives to manage climate change related risks following the evolving priorities of NAPA as a result of recommendations made in the studies. The CCTF assists GoM commitment on carbon neutrality as well as addresses adaptation issues in line with the regional development strategy;
  • Waste management systems (sorting, transportation) in South Ari Atoll developed and strengthened thereby enhancing sustainability of post-tsunami actions, reduce the risks of emission associated with accumulated waste and contamination through sea-dumping and directly contributing to the NAPA;
  • Enabling of valuable synergies between the CCTF and the WB-ADB US$ 30 m Scaling-up Renewable Energy Programme (SREP) which offers grants/concessional loans to the Maldives. The SREP Programme has developed the National Investment Plan on renewable energy to which the practical experiences and lessons learnt through the initial pilot being implemented through the EU AusAID funded CCTF, namely the Clean Energy for Climate Mitigation feeds into. This project is aimed to serve as a replicable model on safe and reliable integration of viable renewable energy resources into the energy mix, increasing the efficient use of energy and ensuring that sufficient skills and capabilities exist in the economy to deploy and maintain similar projects at a large scale.
  • Private-public partnerships and cooperation between resort islands and inhabited islands promoted through support to pilot activities;
  • Improved capacity of civil society organisations to identify, formulate and implement projects and activities;
  • Awareness raised in atolls among island community on climate change issues and lessons learnt on pilot actions and solid waste management actions disseminated.


The programme was implemented through two main initiatives:

(a) Recipient-executed Activities

Part A-: Adaptation: Building a Climate Resilient Economy – Carrying out activities with the involvement of the Recipient's Ministries and agencies, local authorities, civil society organizations and the private sector to deal with the short and medium-term impacts of climate change through inter alia:

1. designing and implementing pilot activities, including awareness and training programs in the areas of sewage and solid waste management, coastal protection and biodiversity conservation, water and livelihood options and disaster management;

2. providing technical assistance to identify good practices, regulatory frameworks, climate-friendly technologies and public-private partnerships and other institutional structures in order to mainstream climate change into the national, sectoral and spatial development planning, and service delivery; and

3. developing technical capacities of the Government sector ministries and other authorities to participate in strategic policy dialogue and international events on climate change.

Part B: Mitigation: Promoting Low Carbon Development

Carrying out activities to lower carbon development and reduce carbon emissions including inter alia:

1. strengthening capacities of the Government to develop a strategic proposal, a policy, and an implementation plan for low carbon development;

2. promoting a range of energy sector solutions including demand-side management for energy, energy efficiency, renewable energy (solar, wind and hybrid systems with diesel) technologies by identifying the enabling policy and regulatory environment and leveraging public-private partnerships;

3. promoting low carbon technologies in the waste management and water and sanitation sector by leveraging private-public partnerships;

4. reducing the carbon footprint of the tourism sector through innovative financing schemes with private-public partnerships with local private resorts.

b) Bank-executed activities:

Providing World Bank's Programme management supervision and administration, including aide memoires, progress and/or donor reports.

The following portfolio of projects have been proposed by the Government of Maldives for funding under the Climate Change Trust Fund (CCTF). These are:

1) Wetlands Conservation and Coral Reef Monitoring for Adaptation to Climate Change (US$ 3.8 million)

2) Clean Energy for Climate Mitigation (US$ 2.53 million)

3) Solid Waste Management in the Ari Atoll (US$1.324 million)

Achievements to date

- AusAID joins multi donor Trust Fund – AUD 1m disbursed in 2 tranches of funding each of AUD$ 0.5m to the trust fund in 2010 and 2012. A further AUD $ 1m was pledged for 2013

- Formal launch of the CCTF on 19.09.2012

- Signature of Grant Agreements on the 2 projects on Wetlands Conservation and Coral Reef Monitoring for Adaptation to CC and Clean Energy for Climate Mitigation being countersigned between the Government of Maldives and the World Bank being Administrator of the Trust Fund on 25.04.2012. The wetlands and coral ecosystem of the Maldives is relevant its economy that is dependent on its unique biodiversity, with 71% of national employment, 49% of public revenue, 62% of foreign exchange, 98% of exports and 89% of GDP obtained from tourism and fisheries. The project to sustain wetlands and coral reefs is a cost effective strategy for climate change adaptation with strong benefits for disaster mitigation, poverty reduction and biodiversity conservation. Projects is aimed at mainstreaming development of local authorities to ensure ownership and sustainability. 5 Tourist Resorts have currently signed MoUs with the Government to participate in coral reef monitoring which feed into the National Geographic Information System. The web enable data base has been designed and is operational. Two community based wetlands management and ecotourism plans have been prepared and endorsed by the communities and the local councils of Hithadhoo and Fuvahmulah. At the end of the initiative, a water harvesting project with a reverse osmosis plant for desalinizing water, as back up, was underway in Ulkulhas Island – a water-stressed community and should function as a pilot demonstration activity.

- Signature of Ari Atoll Solid Waste Management Project on 23.12.2012. The project was planned to resuscitate some of the Island Waste Management Centres built under EU tsunami funding that stand currently idle, while building institutional capacity of Island Councils and communities in improved solid waste management. In addition the model aims to develop public private partnerships for the transfer of residual waste to the central solid waste disposal facility. The project contributes to the principles of sustainable tourism and marine environmental conservation. At the end of the project, composting has commenced and linkage with markets for compost has been made. Procurement for a barge to transfer non bio-degradable waste was initiated.

- The project on Clean Energy feeds into a US$30m WB-ADB programme, SREP (Scaling up Renewable Energy Programme), as the first Government-led pilot project on renewable energy under the investment plan for carbon neutrality. At completion of the project, works were underway on solar installations – 300kWp had been installed and were in operation. The photolvaltaic park increased in size from 200 to around 500 – 600 kWp and the remainder was planned for September 2014.

- The above 3 projects have scope to be replicated throughout the Maldivian islands/atolls.

- The project was showcased at a side event held at the UNFCCC COP18 Summit in Doha on 7thDecember 2012 at the EU Pavilion. Maldives was represented by the Minister of Environment and Energy, Dr Mariyam Shakeela.

- The 3rd Project Steering Committee meeting was held on April 4 2013, chaired by the Vice-President. Slow progress given bottlenecks in procurement were observed but have been considerably expedited since February 2013. An external midterm evaluation contracted by the EU Delegation revealed that the projects were highly relevant, sustainable, with potential for good impact and replication. However, visibility was quite low due to the fact that actions on ground have taken over 2 years to come on board. This has also resulted in low disbursement in the case of the Wetlands project.

- Results of the 3 projects under the first phase (under GCCA funding) are as follows:

a) Very visible outcomes in the solar energy model implemented in Thinadhoo aimed at assessing the possibility of having grid connected renewable energy, enabling savings to be made on importation of diesel and reductions of CO2. This had corresponding benefits to the communities through savings in their electricity bills. In its pilot function it had an important role in leveraging public/private investment in the renewable energy sector through the ADB-WB model on Scaling-up Renewable Energy Programme which aims to raise approximately US$120m. Some main outcomes are:

* Installation and commissioning of grid-tied solar PV of 558kWp (kilo Watt peak) on public buildings on Gdh. Thinadhooo. This exceeded target value which was set at 200kWp

* Reduction in carbon emission: Target value 180 tCO2 , Achieved 270 tCO2

*Electricity supplied annually from renewable energy displacing fossil fuel: Target value 300 MWh, Achieved 400 MWh.

* Children and other stakeholders trained and educated on energy conservation: Target and Achieve 1000 persons

A spillover benefit has also been that the Minister of Environment and Energy also launched a nationwide Energy Efficiency Awareness Campaign on Energy Day 2014 with the slogan "It's cool at 25", to raise awareness. This has been endorsed by several institutions in the Maldives where the air-condition temperature is to be kept not less than 25 degrees celcius.

* Training for officials Ministry of Environment and Energy: Target value 4, Achieved 30 persons

b) Under the Wetlands Conservation & Coral Reef Monitoring project the following results have been achieved:

* As targeted 2 community based wetland management plans were developed and are under implementation in the Addu and Fuvahmulla Atolls.

* An eco-tourism facility has been developed as planned. However additional infrastructure is planned under the second phase of the CCTF.

* Another impact that is replicable nationwide is the protection of coral reefs through the development of web enabled protocols to engage resorts and communities in monitoring the health of reefs. This should have direct benefits to the Maldivian economy as corals are the foundation on which Maldives' two-sector economy is based – tourism and fisheries. 5 resorts have been trained. 85% baseline data for all protocols have been collected

* The rainwater harvesting facility has been completed and handed over to the utility company (STELCO) in Ukulhas which has resulted in the island's population obtaining water up to their doorstep.

* A total of 229 local council members (200% achievement of target) from 10 atolls were trained on climate change adaptation.

c) Under the Solid Waste Management project the following results have been achieved

* 3 of the 5 pilot islands trained in an integrated solid waste management system are operational while all 5 community based island waste management plan are updated.

* Over 90% of households carry our waste segregation, with 100% on 3 pilot islands. The target was 50%.

* 4 out of the 5 pilot island householders pay user fees. The target was 2 islands. Also a cost recovery system for the transfer of residual waste has been developed.

* Procurement of barge to carry non bio-degradable waste off island waste centres to the regional facility has not yet been finalized.

Challenges and lessons learned
  • Project selection was lengthy and at times difficult. The need for sustained consultation and engagement with the Government and all stakeholders is imperative, especially in view that neither donor, nor administrator of the project are physically present in the Maldives.
  • Possible challenges encountered which can be relevant for future climate change programmes and beneficiaries is the insufficient capacity of the public sector both at central and local government levels. Thus capacity building must be factored into projects to ensure sustainability.
  • The Government of Maldives has commented that the administrative procedures of World Bank are quite lengthy and demanding. Given the lack of capacity of the Government, this can prove to be a stumbling block. However, building capacity not only at central government level, but also at local levels, is among the primary objectives of the CCTF.

"Sustaining wetlands and coral reefs is a cost-effective strategy for climate change adaptation with strong benefits for disaster mitigation, ecosystem conservation and economic growth.”

Robyn Mudie, Australia’s High Commissioner for Maldives, at the launching ceremony of the Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund, 19 September 2012.

"Independence from carbon-based fuels, if achieved through energy efficiency improvements and use of indigenous renewable energy resources has important energy security co-benefits as it will avoid fossil fuel imports that cost Maldives 20% of its GDP annually."

Dr Mariyam Shakeela, Minister of Environment and Energy, at the launching ceremony of the Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund, 19 September 2012.