The Ministry of Environment (ME) in the Maldives officially launched its Regional Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan for Zones 6 & 7 that was prepared with the technical assistance of the IGES Centre Collaborating with UNEP on Environmental Technologies (CCET), in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) - International Environmental Technology Centre (IETC) and with financial support from the Ministry of Environment Japan (MOEJ). Celebrating this official occasion, a regional workshop was held on 2nd February 2019 on Goadedhoo Island to disseminate the outcomes of the regional strategy report and to launch the pilot projects on five selected islands, after reviewing the proposals from the islands in zones 6 and 7. It was attended by the Hon. Minister and the Deputy Minister of Environment, Director General and the relevant staff of the solid waste management division, as well as approximately 30 invited representatives from island councils, local environmental groups and citizen groups, including women society members. The Hon. Minister and the Director of CCET official launched the regional strategy report and awarded official letters to the pilot island councils. The session also included a presentation from CCET on the strategy, followed by a discussion with the participants on how to implement the strategy at both island and regional levels.
The Maldives face a growing challenge in managing its solid waste and associated environmental, economic and social issues. This situation is even worse on small islands due to the size of the island communities, insufficient infrastructure and waste transportation difficulties, absence of sufficient budget and appropriate cost recovery systems, lack of institutional capacity, weak regulation, limited opportunities for private sector involvement in service delivery, and lack of public awareness and participation. As a result, most of the waste generated on the islands is disposed on the island foreshore or burnt at low combustion temperatures. Uncontrolled waste disposal and floating debris at tourist resorts is the most visible threat to the country’s reputation as a pristine high-end tourist destination. This uncontrolled disposal of solid waste, including foreshore dumping and open burning, currently accounts for 15% of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the Maldives. Ocean dumping of waste can lead to the degradation of coral reefs. Improper waste disposal into coastal vegetation is a major contributor to the degradation of the vegetation belt. Ad hoc disposal of waste on inhabited islands increases the risk of vector-borne diseases by creating vector-breeding sites. The establishment of a sustainable waste management system is therefore important to not only reduce the impact of environmental pollution and climate change, and improve community health, but also promote resource efficiency, economic benefits and sustainable lifestyles. Proper solid waste management will also help the country achieve its target of carbon neutrality by 2020 and achieve the government’s commitments on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
Considering these issues, the Ministry of Environment (ME) developed a Regional Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan for zones 6 & 7 with the technical assistance of CCET and the participation of all 18 island councils, as well as civil society organisations and other stakeholders. The strategy aims to build capacity for sustainable waste management and promote the development of conducive implementation frameworks and strategic actions at both regional and island levels. It will move from conventional linear thinking and practice on waste management (collect, transport and disposal) to sustainable waste management based on waste hierarchy and the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle). It also aims to address key issues, needs and challenges in implementing the National Waste Management Policy at the regional and island levels whilst raising awareness amongst key stakeholders, including island councils and citizen groups, towards achieving a resource efficient and zero waste society. The Regional Waste Management Strategy and Action Plan identifies some strategies and priority actions to be achieved during the next five year (2019-2023) period, including (i) maximising public awareness, waste separation, proper collection, composting and temporary storage of recyclables and residuals at the island level; (ii) improving appropriate technologies and infrastructure, sustainable financial systems, including private sector involvement at the regional level; and (iii) institutional strengthening and monitoring.
Related Link: Saafu Raaje (Facebook Page)