Invest in Maldives, fight climate change: Gayoom


Male : Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom Sunday called for global action to combat climate change that directly impacts low-lying countries and sought more global investment to spur his country to achieve the transition to a middle-income liberal democracy.

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"There is no alternative but for the whole world to fight climate change. The Maldives on its part is doing what it can, but that would never be enough. Action on a global scale is a must," Gayoom told delegates participating in the second Maldives Partnership Forum (MPF) here.

"Our focus has been on alerting the international community to the dangers that climate change and its devastating effects, including sea level rise, pose to the Maldives, and to the other low-lying countries and regions," Gayoom stressed.

The MPF offers a platform for discussion between the Maldives government and its developments partners on key national development objectives.

Alluding to floods caused by high swells that hit the atoll nation recently, the Maldives president underscored the need for "timely action" to combat global warming failing which the "dangers to Maldives could very well be doubled".

"It is our hope, therefore, that you would convey to your governments the need for urgent action on implementing the Kyoto Protocol, as a good first step, to be followed by others on the climb towards more concrete emissions cuts," he said.

Stressing that the Maldives was "well on track to achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals", Gayoom, Asia's longest serving leader who has been presiding over the island nation for nearly three decades, sought more international investment in the reconstruction of his country that was among nine nations hit by a deadly tsunami in December 2004.

"More than two years on, we still have a funding shortfall of $70 million for the tsunami recovery. On top of that, we now face the cost of rebuilding the livelihoods and infrastructure washed out by the recent and current tidal waves," he said.

"Investing in the Maldives is about investing in growth, in the future, in ensuring environmental sustainability. It is about investing for the benefit of an entire nation," he said.

Gayoom stressed on the process of democratic transformation currently underway in the atoll nation as he reiterated his resolve to hold the Maldives' first multi-party elections before November 2008.

He also spoke about his government's plan to hold a Constitutional Conference, in which all political parties will participate, to ensure that the new constitution is acceptable to all sections of the people. International observers will also be invited to the conference.