Save The Beach Maldives, a grassroots movement that started with a group of surfers preventing a Villingili beach from turning into a harbor, over ten years ago, is now a full fledged NGO with members in every corner of the Maldives. The organization now provides environmental training and education programs to local communities, while operating a recycling and education program with every school in the Greater Malé Region. It is now working on setting up an Ocean Research Center in partnership with the University of Genoa to promote marine conservation practices and research.
What are the environmental challenges that the Maldives is facing today?
Our Mangroves are being compromised, our beaches are being compromised, our lagoons are being compromised, our environment is being compromised. We declare regions as environmental havens, safe from exploitation or destruction, but lack the means to monitor and protect them. The government’s vision for environmental preservation is a good one, but i must be given continuity long-term. If we keep changing plans every time a government changes, no real impact will ever be achieved.
What has been done regarding the use of renewable energy in the country?
The efforts to develop renewable energy are laudable but have been too few. The example of the Vilingili pilot program, where 30 percent of the power comes from solar, should be the rule rather than the exception. We have the resources to do it but have preferred to use these resources for real estate development and tourism, at the cost of our environment. Our understanding of what development means needs to change in our national mentality.