Your Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Prime Minister the Right Honourable Boris Johnson, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Excellencies and Friends;
It is my pleasure to take part in this Commonwealth Leaders Event.
As we are all painfully aware, the world is currently grappling with unprecedented challenges exacerbated by the climate emergency. The Maldives faces the catastrophic impacts of climate change through rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions.
Now, when I talk about the effects of climate change on the Maldives, I am not only talking about the acidification of our oceans, or our bright colorful coral reefs being rendered colorless and desolate after major bleaching events.
I am also talking about the real people, my citizens, who are working day in and out to live a life of dignity, who face the real threat of ending up as climate refugees.
We may be small in numbers, but in no way, are we any less deserving of the right to live in our own country, without the threat of impending disaster. My people deserve a safe place to live, as much as anyone else in this room.
There has never been a more important time for global friendship. Climate change is not simply just an environmental issue; it poses a real threat to the security, prosperity, and socio-economic development of all people.
We must reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase of this century to below 1.5 degrees.
We must ensure the assistance pledged to help small states overcome their vulnerability does not remain just numbers on paper.
And we must ensure that the resources that are key to survival, including food, safe drinking water and shelter are accessible to all.
My country contributes very little to global greenhouse emissions, yet we continue to show leadership with our actions and to advocate for greater efficiency and urgency in climate action.
The Maldives is aiming to achieve Net Zero by 2030. I am aware that this is ambitious, but our ambition comes from necessity.
This is the 26th COP and my people cannot afford 26 more. I invite you to ask yourself, why are you not as ambitious as us?
The Commonwealth is a family of nations that work in a unique way. As a platform that includes over thirty of the world’s smallest states, a collaborative common approach may be the single biggest contribution this organization can make to address climate change.
In fact, it was the Commonwealth that first discussed the impact of climate change on Small States at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Vancouver in 1987.
Even now, Commonwealth echoes Maldives’ and other small states’ climate ambitions. And there is so much more we can do together.
The current climate finance landscape is a maze that deters the very countries that it is meant to support.
The transaction costs for these resources are so high and the eligibility criteria so strict that for many vulnerable states, these funds are inaccessible. This is where the Commonwealth can step in. The Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub needs to be scaled up to assist countries to translate climate finance into climate action.
The future of the Maldives depends on your decisions today.
As I speak, millions across the world are suffering because of climate change. If we fail to make the right decisions here and now, billions more will suffer, including the entire population of the Maldives. My people would be stripped of their livelihoods, their identity and their homes.
I plead you to make the right decisions.