The Maldives has set itself a tough target to be the world’s first UNESCO Biosphere reserve nation and it aims to win the accolade by 2017. The Indian Ocean nation has put together an implementation plan to run between 2013 and 2017 that will see more than half of the nations island atolls implementing the ‘Biosphere Approach’ management plan.
Once over half the islands come nder the new plan it will trigger the ability for the nation to apply to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to have the entire country and its Exclusive Economic Zone classed as a Biosphere Reserve. [pullquote]The whole country of Maldives will be a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve by 2017 – where public support for conservation of the country’s remarkable environment secures a vibrant green economy and a good quality of life for all Maldivians.[/pullquote]
“The whole country of Maldives will be a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve by 2017 – where public support for conservation of the country’s remarkable environment secures a vibrant green economy and a good quality of life for all Maldivians,” said Dr Mariyam Shakeela, Minister of Environment and Energy, Republic of Maldives.
The implementation plan, Maldives as a Biosphere Reserve: An Implementation Plan 2013-2017, sets a road-map for 2013 to 2017, after which the plan will be updated based on progress and lessons learned.
The plan will be implemented by and for different atolls in a stepwise fashion, based on their readiness to adopt the “Biosphere Approach”. The plan was endorsed by the cabinet of Ministers in January 2013, showing the commitment from all stakeholders to this plan.
The President of the Maldives signalled intentions in June 2012, at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, RIO+20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to significantly ramp up efforts to protect the marine environment. The president outlined plans to implement a de-centralised system for environmental management and sustainable development, and was inspired by the success achieved in designating Baa Atoll as the first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Maldives.
Become a ‘nation biosphere reserve’ will also lead to the Maldives becoming a champion of the Aichi Targets. These targets form the basis of an internationally agreed strategy to address the loss of global biodiversity. There are 20 targets that signatory nations have agreed to meet by the year 2020,
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias said:
“This pledge from the Maldives is extraordinary in size and potential impact. We should expect that it will be an inspiration to other CBD Parties, including Small Island Developing States and donor countries, to work harder toward the achievement of all of the Aichi Targets.”
“Global progress in the development of marine protected areas and in the sustainable management of fish stocks is lagging considerably,” he added. “Although there are still more than seven years before the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and its 20 Aichi Targets are to be fully implemented, as agreed in Nagoya at CBD COP 10, we will only reach these targets by making ambitious pledges as the Maldives has now done.”