Dear World Leaders Determining Our Future Existence:
We the Republic of Maldives civil society youth leaders implore you to take immediate, drastic actions and embrace a NEW WORLD VISION to thwart the catastrophic effects of climate change that threaten our survival. The Maldives is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and we are suffering. Since we work in partnership with communities for Maldivian rural development, we are bringing the voice of the public to your attention.
Our nation – as well as many other vulnerable low-lying developing countries and marginalized communities – will cease to exist within 50 years unless national and corporate economic interests are put aside and a truly global cooperative effort is undertaken for serious mitigation and adaptation endeavors.
Two-thirds of our population lives in rural areas and the devastating effects from climate change are already extensive. Changing weather patterns are causing frequent violent storms, recurrent flooding (from rain and unpredictable tidal waves), and wide-spread coastal erosion. This is also making our traditional knowledge obsolete. While rising ocean temperatures have also caused nation-wide coral reef bleaching – in addition to CO2 acidification damage.
These climate change impacts are destroying our agricultural crops, fresh ground water, and coral reefs. We will starve as our ability to meet food and water subsistence needs, in addition to sustaining our livelihoods dependant on fishing, agriculture, and eco-tourism becomes increasingly threatened. These hazards to our survival are compounded by diseases (e.g. Dengue Fever) spreading rapidly due to the extreme heat and stagnant fresh water increases.
When combined with the current development challenges we are facing, such as no proper waste management systems, extremely limited health services, and environmental degradation, our health is in dire peril.
Tragically, the unsustainable consumer culture that drives current global economics and is responsible for ravaging the planet, depleting natural resources and environmental systems, as well as causing this climate change catastrophe is exacerbating these devastating impacts.
We face a bleak future of national population displacement, forced migration, and potential natural resource disputes as well as cultural eradication – our survival is uncertain.
Climate change impacts will increase threats to and violations of human rights as well as the risk of violent conflicts and humanitarian disasters not only for the Maldives, but for all nations.
Delaying making drastic systemic changes to the global socio-economic system is equivalent to committing genocide against present and future Maldivian generations, as well as other vulnerable populations.
Common but differentiated responsibilities have not been fulfilled, as technology and knowledge transfers rarely reach the neediest, while developed and developing nations alike continue to pollute the planet and destroy vital ecosystems at alarming rates – green house gas emissions have increased since the UNFCCC and Kyoto were ratified.
Thus we call for all UNFCCC Parties to prevent this cataclysmic future the Maldives – and every other country – faces by embracing a NEW WORLD VISION and embarking on a NEW WORLD ORDER in which all nations:
- Put national and corporate short-term economic interests aside in favor of global cooperation to prevent massive human and environmental catastrophes.
- Reduce national emissions, at minimum, to 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, with the goal of reducing CO2 atmospheric concentrations from 389 parts per million to 350 parts per million, or below.
- Fully adopt and adhere to sustainable development practices – economic and social development within environmental limits via sustainable resource management and conservation.
- Universally incorporate social and environmental externalities into the cost of goods and services. This includes recognizing and protecting the ecosystem services humans depend on for survival.
- Expand natural resource availability to meet the needs of present and future generations.
- Recognize that all human systems are dependent on environmental health. The mentality that humankind could dominate the natural world without consequence is what led to this climate catastrophe we are facing.
- Recognize that the negative implications for human rights, peace and security, development, politics, and socio-economic systems can no longer be ignored. Craft mitigation and adaptation solutions accordingly.
- Pursue interdisciplinary, holistic, cooperative solutions at the community level, in addition to taking national and international actions. Only pursuing cap-and-trade as well as tax schemes to reduce emissions reinforce our broken energy system.
- Make renewable energies, such as wind and solar, affordable and readily available to everyone on Earth. Pursuing nuclear energy and/or “clean” coal wastes time and resources, harms human health, and degrades overstressed environmental systems with the extraction and waste-storage processes.
10. Developed and developing countries must stop blaming each other as an excuse for inaction and instead seek a more equitable world order; sharing resources, knowledge, and openly communicating is the only way forward.
11. Mitigation and adaptation assistance must be provided to the most vulnerable nations and groups, without conditions.
12. Green house gas emissions must be stopped now, piecemeal mitigation is not enough. Every nation should strive to become carbon neutral by compelling and providing the means to reach this goal to their citizens, corporations, civil society organizations, and government institutions.
13. Developed nations must: 1) Compel their populations to reduce resource consumption by educating them properly about the devastating effects of climate change as well as sustainable development solutions; 2) Immediately fulfill their common but differentiated responsibilities by tremendously assisting developing countries with mitigation, adaptation, and development efforts; 3) Enact the appropriate legislation to meet these goals within the next three years; 4) Encourage societal values and individual self-fulfillment NOT based on material wealth.
14. Developing nations must: 1) Educate their populations about the devastating effects of climate change as well as sustainable development solutions; 2) Immediately fulfill their common but differentiated responsibilities and peruse environmentally conscious development; 3) Enact the appropriate legislation to meet these goals within the next three years; 4) Encourage societal values and individual self-fulfillment NOT based on material wealth.
World leaders, you must be brave. The looming climate change catastrophe will either unite the human race or destroy us. Your choices will determine this fate. This challenge is an opportunity to advance the human species and develop the international order. Remember, the cost of change now is meager compared to the incalculable future ramifications – our civilizations and the environment as we know it will be irreversibly destroyed. The death and destruction faced by the Maldives is a preview of what every nation will face. Survival of the human species is in your hands.