Once a territory with unique ecology and a wide range of endemics, the Maldives seem to be threatened by a change in heir climate and, therefore, natural habitats for a number of unique species (Does adaptive management of natural resources enhance resilience to climate change? n. d., par. 3). More to the point, the alterations triggered by a climate change are most likely to lead to a rapid deterioration of the islands’ environment and the decline in the number of Maldives endemics.
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Because of a rapid and uncontrolled urbanization process, coastal erosion has clearly become a tangible threat to the delicate balance within the Maldives environment. Enhanced by two key factors, the global warming and the urbanization of the archipelago, the issue of coastal destruction clearly needs to be tackled; the results of the Maldives’ environment deterioration are going to be drastic, with a number of endemics dying out and a range of natural processes being put to a halt.
Unless the principles of sustainability are introduced to the resource management in the Maldives with the help of a reasonable set of principles, such as the NAPA policy, the place will soon be destroyed completely. It is essential that the policy, which encourages the authorities to undertake efficient measures, yet allows for sufficient flexibility in their actions, should be provided. Seeing how the tourist business is crucial for the Maldives economy functioning, it is necessary to introduce the principles of sustainable tourism and urbanization, so that neither of the sides should suffer, and the NAPA policy, with its flexibility, is perfect as a fundament for the sustainable strategy for the Maldives.
Introduction: Maldives. Preventing the Destruction of a Tropic Paradise
Maldives have always been considered an equivalent of heaven on Earth, the kind of place that one will always associate with leisure and relaxation. For a range of decades, the status of Maldives remained the same; it was a truly luxurious place to spend holidays in, and its exotic environment, with unique ecosystem and a range of amazing endemics being an exciting experience for any foreigner. However, with the growth of the tourist business within the archipelago, the number of tourists visiting the place on a regular basis has increased, leading to the consequences that any island thriving on tourist business has to face eventually.
Due to the lack of concern for the environment and the unique nature of the Maldives, the state authorities have encountered a unique problem: because of a rapid urbanization of the archipelago, such resources as coral stones and sand have been reduced considerably, thus, lowering the natural defense against the phenomenon known as destructive waves (About Maldives – environment n. d., para. 1).
Born to eliminate the results of the backwash process carried out by constructive waves, destructive ones are must steeper and with a much higher frequency rate, which makes them all the more dangerous for the coast. Unless there is a major obstacle, such as corals and sand, in the way of a destructive wave, the effects of the latter on the coast and the coastal areas is deplorable, as the recent researches have shown. Compared to the 50s, the Maldives’ coastal area looks completely destroyed, with only few of its key “defense squads” left; most corals have been collected as a valuable type of as a source of souvenirs for tourists, while the sand is used in the urbanization process as a construction material for creating better conditions for the tourists.
Problemscape: Evaluating the Scale of the Catastrophe to Be Anticipated
Seeing how the state is currently facing the issues that are bound to affect its environment and, therefore reduce its popularity as a tourist attraction, it will be reasonable to claim that Maldives clearly need strong support. Adding the urbanization process to the list of issues, the pressure of which the Maldives’ economy is currently under means destroying the state’s capacity to function.
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According to the latest information on the issues that the residents of the Maldives have encountered over the past few years, the coastal protection is the issue that causes most of the controversy (South Asia convention on coastal management, n. d, par. 2). In addition, seeing how the urbanization of the island has caused many concerns, it will be necessary to increase the number of green areas in the cities. To be more exact, the number of mangroves and trees in general must be increased in urban areas.
Case Study Rationale: Coastal Destruction as a Result of the Archipelago Urbanization
It would be wrong to claim that the urbanization process is solely to be blamed for what has happened to the coast of Maldives. Much like the rest of tropic islands, Maldives are also affected by the process of global warming (Maldives island paradise n. d., para. 3). Contributing to a gradual rise of the sea level, global warming enhances the process of coastal destruction by making the coastal area even more accessible to the destructive waves.
Though one might argue that the problem specified above is local and, therefore, should not be paid that much attention to, the issue, in fact, is bound to have global consequences. As soon as the number of corals in the Maldives archipelago is reduced to zero (Maldives pole and hand line tuna fisheries go Friend of the Sea n. d., para. 7). An entire ecosystem is going to be wiped off the face of the earth. As a result, a number of endemics are going to die out due to the rapid change of environment. Consequently, the flora and fauna of the entire Maldives is going to be changed forever (Hall 2012, para. 3).
Policy Summary: NAPA as a More Viable Solution than NEAP
The problem of Maldives has been addressed several times (South Asia convention on coastal management n. d., para. 1), though with little result. During the first consideration of the problem, the NEAP set of principles was suggested in order to sustain the unique flora and fauna of the region and at the same time leave the tourism business intact. However, the NEAP policy has a range of flaws.
Since the NEAP system could not be considered viable after its more thorough evaluation, an entirely new plan needed to be introduced in order to solve the Maldives coastal destruction problem. The NAPA set of principles, though clearly coming on the heels of the NEAP system, offers a more sensible approach towards the issue in question. NAPA is obviously geared towards a less drastic and more flexible approach to changing the current environmental policy, which is exactly what the Maldives need at present: “The strategic goals and objectives of future coping mechanisms are to reduce adverse effects of climate change including variability and extreme events and promote sustainable development” (National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), 2005, p. i). The emphasis on the sustainability policy is also worth appreciating; thus, one is capable of creating a balance between the economy related strategies and the environmental ones without harming either of the fields.
Another benefit of the NAPA policy, its focus on the developing countries is worth bringing up as an obvious benefit and an argument for adopting it in relation to the Maldives issue. Targeted at the third world countries by its definition, the NAPA set of principles will allow for introducing the sustainability policy into the state without harming the economy much. According to the protocol of last meeting concerning the NAPA postulates and their implementation, “to advise on the mainstreaming of NAPAs into regular development planning in the context of national strategies for sustainable development” (United Nations 2002, p. 16) was considered one of the primary goals of the new policy.
Speaking of the tool, with the help of which the evaluation of the existing policies and their effects can be carried out, the EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) tool should be used (DFID n. d., p. 1). Created in 2011 and being regularly updated, it will help define the factors that affect the coastal destruction process the most; after isolating these factors, one will be able to use the EIA tool for assessing the current state of affairs. As soon as the main factors are changed or eliminated, the tool will be used again in order to assess the effects of the new policy implementation.
Analysis and Synthesis: Defining the Nature and Specifics of the Problem
As it has been stressed, the key problem of the previously adopted methods concerned their lack of focus. It must be admitted that such policies as the NEAP and its more reasonable NAPA substitute can be viewed as a viable method of solving the problem of coastal erosion, at the same time keeping the urbanization process at the maximum speed and retaining the tourism business intact. When taking a closer look at the NEAP set of principles, one will notice inevitably that the model suggested by the NAPA may lead to much better results.
Indeed, NAPA allows for shaping the policy of sustainability so that it could suit the Maldives and that every single factor affecting the current issue, including the influx of the annual number of tourists, the climate change, i.e., the global warming, the destructive waves, as well as the urbanization and tourism related business, which has led to the extinction of coral reefs and exhaustion of sand, should be taken into account. However, one must also render the ideas suggested by the EIA 2011 (Environmental impact assessment of projects n. d., p. 4).
Created to not only define the standards for environmental safety of a particular region, but also to evaluate the risks and provide numerical expressions of the potential threat, the Environmental Impact Assessment should definitely be used as the key tool in improving the state of the Maldives. By comparing the results of the assessments carried out before and after the implementation of the environmental plan, one will be able to comment on the efficacy of the actions undertaken (EuropeMaldives n. d., para. 4).
Speaking of the environmental concern, which has spawned the necessity to conjure an entirely new policy and to launch it within the shortest amount of time possible, the problem of the Maldives coastal destruction can be viewed as a natural process enhanced by the active use of sand and coral reefs. Hence, to improve the situation, the Maldives authorities will have to introduce the principles of sustainability into the tourist and construction business (Maldives 2012, para. 1).
The scope and the scale of the problem are not restricted to the Maldives area – on the opposite, once the process of the coastal destruction grows out of proportions, it is most likely to affect the entire Indian Ocean. Once the ecosystem of the Maldives is destroyed, the survival of a number of species that are dependent on the endemics of the Maldives islands will be jeopardized. Thus, some of the species inhabiting the Indian Ocean will become extinct, which will trigger considerable alterations in the flora and fauna of the coastal areas, and then the entire area of the states located next to the ocean (Maldives n. d., para. 2).
Attempted Solution: Sustainability as the Key to Improving the Situation
Considering the factors that contribute to the Maldives’ susceptibility to the destructive effect of waves, one must mention the fact that the absence of the protection, including sand and coral reefs, was triggered by an increase in tourism popularity and urbanization process. Seeing how both are crucial to the Maldives’ economy and, thus, the lives of its population, it will be reasonable to suggest that the concept of sustainable tourism and sustainable urbanization should be enhanced.
It is important that the NAPA principles should be applied to the situation in the Maldives; with more freedom to choose the scenarios that are more appropriate for the archipelago and its unique characteristics, the local authorities will be able to maintain the balance between encouraging local SMEs and working on the environmental issue. With such a tool as the EIA (Environmental impact assessment: guidelines for FAO field projects 2012, p. 2), a precise evaluation of the results will become possible.
About Maldives – environment n. d. Web.
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