'Projects must be carried out despite environmental changes' : Nasheed

Speaker of the Parliament and former president Mohamed Nasheed has stated that development projects cannot be halted despite environmental changes caused as a result of such projects.

While extremely severe erosion is being currently faced by some islands of the archipelago in recent days, an emergency meeting of the Parliament's Environment and Climate Change Committee was called on Wednesday. The session, which was open to the public, was attended by several environmentalist organizations and advocates as well as members of the public.

Speaking at the committee, Nasheed said although some islands are facing erosion as a result negative practices by the country's citizens and some developmental projects, the recent severity of erosion is caused by climate change.

"In truth, there is not much the government can do to curb the effects of climate change. This is not a situation that can be immediately addressed and resolved by any government in the world. What we are facing now is not the result of something we did," said Nasheed.

Two members of the public were granted the opportunity to speak at the committee. Both individuals expressed concern on the dredging projects undertaken by the government for tourism purposes and other projects.

Speaking at the committee, a representative from Save Maldives organization, Ahmed Mohamed noted that some lagoons were being reclaimed without a proper plan, and that the uprooting of trees from islands was a concerning issue. Some such projects must be halted, he suggested.

Responding to him, Nasheed said while human activities negatively impact the environment, changes are being observed in the climate and environment that are not a result of human activities. It is likely that such changes would continue to occur even if projects are halted, said Nasheed.

However, developmental and infrastructural projects must be carried out despite such changes to the environment to fulfill the needs of the people, said the former president. Some of these projects are carried out for the protection of the islands, as well as to generate a revenue to fulfill the responsibilities of the state.

"We cannot stop our livelihood, we cannot stop development, we cannot stop [the need for] housing, and we cannot stop vessels from departing and arriving. We cannot stop providing electricity and we cannot close down powerhouses. We cannot stop providing drinking water. These are things that we have to continue doing," said Nasheed.

The committee during its meeting reached the decision to formulate a research report on the current erosion issue in liaison with the Environment Ministry and other relevant authorities and organizations. The report will be submitted to the parliament floor for deliberation.