Ninety-eight percent of the Maldives’ national territory consists of ocean. To Maldivians, the sea is not just a geographic fact, it is our way of life. We share a bond with it. It is a part of our culture, traditions and history. The beauty and richness of its ecosystems are what sustains our livelihoods. If we cannot protect our marine resources we will fail in protecting our health, our livelihoods, and our economy.
That is why lasts year during my visit to New York to attend the 74th United Nations General Assembly I entered the Government of Maldives into a partnership with the Blue Prosperity Coalition, a group of organizations working to protect the ocean and grow blue economies. Today I am excited to take that partnership further, with the launch of the NooRaajje, or BlueMaldives, program.
This program will address all the activities that we will conduct with the Blue Prosperity Coalition to enhance our local capacity to be better protectors of the ocean. Under NooRaajje, the Maldives’ Government and our friends from Blue Prosperity will work with local scientists and civil society to conduct scientific investigations on our sea and maritime resources; develop better maritime spatial planning and determine which areas to protect, in line with our pledge to commit 20 percent of our ocean as protected areas; and conserve our marine ecosystems and wildlife.
NooRaajje activities will directly inform the Government’s efforts to implement a Blue Economy. Transitioning to a Blue Economy is one of this Government’s major pledges, and a key component of our vision for a ‘Jazeera Raajje’, or island nation, where our continued development does not compromise the beauty and health of our ecosystems, or the traditional Maldivian way of life.
As outlined in the Government’s Strategic Action Plan, under a Blue Economy, we will use our natural resources responsibly to strengthen our major industries such as tourism and fisheries, while exploring ways of diversifying our economy. This we believe will be the surest path to helping the country recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, and shaping a resilient, environmentally sustainable economy.
I thank the Blue Prosperity Coalition for making the NooRaajje program a reality. I have no doubt that the knowledge, skills and passion demonstrated by our blue-prosperity partners, the staff at our stakeholder ministries and the dedicated individuals comprising our civil society, will make this campaign a huge success.