Malé - A UNDP-supported project set to transform water security in the outer islands of the Maldives has moved one step closer to implementation this past week, with a meeting of key stakeholders and a special function attended by the Minister of Environment and Energy, Minister of State for Environment and Energy, and UNDP Resident Representative.
Together the events held in the capital Malé mark a critical milestone in the commencement of the project’s implementation, expected to begin early September 2017.
“Climate change is a significant challenge to the development of Maldives, not only in an environmental aspect, but also in economic and social aspects,” said the Minister of Environment and Energy Mr. Thoriq Ibrahim in his opening remarks. “The Maldives project was among the first projects approved by the Green Climate Fund, and this event brings stakeholders together to discuss and exchange information vital for implementation.”
“As a small island developing state, the Maldives has been both a champion and a poster-child for the impacts of climate change,” said UNDP Resident Representative Ms. Shoko Noda. “The Government, and in particular the Ministry of Environment and Energy, has been at the forefront of climate action. Today marks the beginning of a paradigm shift towards climate-resilience, one we envision will be a turning point for the future of water security in the country.”
Preceding the special function, key stakeholders – including participants from the National Designated Authority (NDA), local utilities, the Maldives Meteorological services, the Environment Protection Agency, and members of the project management unit under the Ministry of Environment and Energy, as well as representatives from civil society and island communities – had come together for a two-day meeting (inception workshop) covering a range of practical issues related to implementation, among them, ensuring environmental and social safeguards, and monitoring and evaluation.
Crucially the meeting also provided an opportunity for stakeholders such as representatives of the recipient communities, local utilities operators and civil society to give further feedback on the design of the project and propose any additional recommendations for the project team to consider in carrying the project forward. Some of the issues raised include ensuring sustainability through establishing strong regulatory frameworks, engaging beneficiary communities throughout the project and creating space for civil society to engage in the water sector.
The Maldives project was one of the first to be approved by the newly established Green Climate Fund in November 2015. It was the first UNDP-supported Green Climate Fund project to be procedurally cleared and now is the first to reach inception stage.
Ongoing water shortages, exacerbated by climate change, continue to affect already vulnerable communities living on the outer islands of the Maldives. Water shortages have significant human, environmental and social impacts for communities in which 27 percent of population lives under the poverty line of US$2 a day. Currently no residents in the target 49 outer islands have a reliable source of freshwater.
Over the coming four years, the project, led by the Maldives Ministry of Environment and Energy – and implemented with the support of US$23.6 million from the Green Climate Fund – will reduce climate-induced water shortages across 49 outer islands and put in place better coping mechanisms and a more resilient supply system.
Funded Activity Agreement Completed: March 2017
Project Document Signed: May 2017
First Disbursement of Funds: July 2017
Inception Workshop: 8-10 August 2017