Updated 1 August 2023
How are you, Maldives?
As rising sea levels threaten more islands, these communities face three critical choices—moving to higher ground, building up and densifying, or reclaiming the land.
Rising sea levels and severe cyclones significantly threaten the future of the Maldives island communities.
The Maldives is one of the world’s lowest and flattest countries. Over 80% of the total land area is less than 1 meter above mean sea level. It faces a tropical monsoon climate featuring heavy rainfall seasons.
Experts estimate that climate change will lead to a total economic loss averaging 2.3% of GDP in 2050 and 12.6% of GDP by 2100.
Climate Change Analysis in the Maldives
According to the INFORM risk index, the Maldives ranks 140 out of 191 countries based on exposure, hazard, vulnerability, and lack of coping capacity. While it is in a low-risk class to disasters, it is more susceptible to climate change risks.
Furthermore, cyclone damage in the northern part of the country resulted in 18 islands becoming uninhabitable. The 80% of the country below 1 meter in sea level could also become uninhabitable by the 2050s, thereby threatening a surge of climate migrants into already-dense urban areas like the capital, higher demand for reclaimed lands, or migration to neighboring countries.
Although its total carbon emissions are low, its per capita emissions are the highest in the region. This is largely due to its small population and increasing levels of economic activity. Moreover, significant carbon emissions primarily arise from the tourism, transportation, and energy sectors.
Maldives is committed to fulfilling its NDC climate adaptation objectives by identifying ten priority areas. The country has also formulated the National Adaptation Programme of Action, 2006, to enhance climate resilience.
The Government is also developing and populating an artificial island near the capital designed with many green urban planning initiatives. The new island is called Hulhumalé.