The Maldives has pledged to become a UNESCO biosphere reserve under guidelines set by the United Nations’ Man and the Biosphere Program and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). By 2017, a plan that “integrate[s] management of natural resources with conservation and sustainable use…[and seeks] to ensure equitable distribution of natural resource wealth” will be implemented on more than half of the nation’s 1,192 islands. Maldives president Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik made the decision after witnessing the results of preservation efforts in the country’s Baa Atoll.
What’s the Big Idea?
Currently the Maldives is under threat from rising sea levels, with the highest point rising only 2.4 meters above sea level. Varying sources estimate that much of the country is at risk of disappearing into the Indian Ocean entirely. Despite this, CBD executive secretary Braulio Ferreria de Souza said in a press release that the Maldives’ commitment to environmental preservation “is extraordinary in size and potential impact” and will be an inspiration to other participants. Right now, 610 biospheres exist across 117 countries.