Resource management

Speech by Faris Hadad-Zervos, World Bank Country Director for Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka

Honorable Minister, partners, colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We all share a common vision of a “Clean Maldives” and we have come together today to deliberate on how to get there. Burning waste is a major challenge and various studies point out that 1 in 3 people in the world throw away or burn their waste due to the lack of greener alternatives. This creates significant carbon emissions and has negative impacts on health.

Sustainable waste management is a cost effective solution to solving this problem and was also discussed at length at the COP26 meeting in Glasgow last month. However, we have to recognize that this is easier said than done.

We also all have a common goal of helping the Maldives to rebuild better after the shock of the COVID-19 pandemic. The key to this is the country’s tourism and fishing sectors. These two sectors depend on a thriving terrestrial and marine ecosystem that can thrive in the face of ever-increasing human pressures. For these sectors to thrive, adopting sustainable waste management practices is not just an option, it is an imperative.

The World Bank is a partner of the Government of Maldives in the waste management sector. This is illustrated by the support given to some basic work in the early stages of the Maldives Environmental Management Project (MEMP), which ended in 2016. Important lessons from this project were used to conceptualize and design the current Maldives Clean Environment Project (MCEP).

For any initiative to be successful, it is important that ownership of assets, operations and knowledge is transferred to people; in this case, the Maldivian people. This goes a long way to ensuring the sustainability of any intervention. The Maldives is on the way to building an effective cadre of waste management professionals who can shoulder this responsibility with government and act as equal partners and stakeholders in the sector. It is really very promising.

The waste management sector involves a wide range of stakeholders, including NGOs, civil society, government and the private sector. The private sector is generally responsible for providing international technical expertise which gradually builds local capacities. This implies that innovative public-private partnerships can be further harnessed to develop and improve waste management systems in the Maldives.

To achieve our common goals, we must ensure that there is sufficient upfront planning, convergence of efforts and continued collaboration between international donors and the Government of Maldives. We also need to ensure that the most critical funding gaps are closed so that a profitable plan can be followed.

It is essential to have a well articulated and coherent strategy, policy and planning framework in place as early as possible so that the investments made respond in a coherent way given the interconnections of the different waste streams across the country.

I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on two important updates to the waste regulations – one in August this year on source sorting of waste, and a second in November to harmonize the requirements for waste. the treatment of food and organic waste between islands and inhabited seaside resorts.

There are no quick fixes or standard solutions to such complex problems. We must constantly innovate and continue to adapt and respond to dynamic issues and constantly evolving challenges. Private companies and entrepreneurs must be at the forefront in this effort, as they bring much-needed industry and innovation, which is essential to fight the war on waste. Beach resorts and the tourism industry must also be involved as their number is equal to and even greater than the inhabited islands in some atolls. We will also work to strengthen decision-making processes and find sustainable solutions to the county’s waste management issues.

I would like once again to recognize the importance of today’s meeting as we strive to develop a common roadmap to ensure that all our efforts result in successful waste management in the Maldives.

Thanks everyone.