Thursday, 13 November 2008 6:23 AM

Maldives Plan to Buy New Homeland Due to Climate Change

The island nation of Maldives has revealed plans to buy land for relocation as a result of sea level rise due to climate change which threatens to submerge the 1,000 plus islets that make up the nation.

This is a situation shared by the nations in the region, particularly countries like Tuvalu, who is said to be one of the first nations to experience the effects of sea level rise.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Maldives 'will begin to divert a portion of the country's billion-dollar annual tourist revenue into buying a new homeland - possibly in Australia - as an insurance policy against climate change that threatens to turn the 300,000 islanders into environmental refugees, the country's first democratically elected president has said'.

The newly-elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, 'said the chain of 1200 islands and coral atolls dotted 800 kilometres from the tip of India is likely to disappear under the waves if the current pace of climate change continues to raise sea levels' and that 'even a "small rise" in sea levels would inundate large parts of the archipelago'.

"We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own and so we have to buy land elsewhere," Mr Nasheed said. "It's an insurance policy for the worst possible outcome."

Faced with the same predicament, nations in the region have tried to make their voices heard in international arenas about climate change and the topic of relocation has been and continues to be heavily discussed.

Mr. Nasheed's words when he stated, "We do not want to leave the Maldives, but we also do not want to be climate refugees living in tents for decades", rings true for other nations under the same predicament.
For Pacific people, much of their culture is interlinked with the land and depriving them of land deprives them of so much more. But it is something they will have to do if they want to survive.

The article further states that environmentalists 'say the issue raises the question of what rights citizens have if their homeland no longer exists'.

"It's an unprecedented wake-up call," Tom Picken, head of international climate change at Friends of the Earth, said. "The Maldives is left to fend for itself. It is a victim of climate change caused by rich countries."

'Mr Nasheed said he intended to create a sovereign wealth fund from the money generated by "importing tourists", in the way that Arab states had done by exporting oil'.

"Kuwait might invest in companies; we will invest in land."

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