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28 Feb, 2013

In Extraordinary Move, Entire Maldives to Become Biosphere Reserve


COLOMBO, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) — In a record-making initiative, the Maldives has volunteered to become the first nation where the entire country will be a Biosphere Reserve, a United Nations environment organization said in a statement on Wednesday.

The pledge by the Maldives is in response for stakeholders to take urgent action towards achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets made at the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11) in Hyderabad, India, and builds on the announcement made at the Rio+20 Conference.

The goal is to ensure that more than half of the country’s atolls are implementing the new approach by the end of 2017, in order to trigger the application for the Maldives as a Biosphere Reserve to be submitted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“This pledge from the Maldives is extraordinary in size and potential impact. We should expect that it will be an inspiration to other countries, including Small Island Developing States and donor countries, to work harder toward the achievement of all of the Aichi Targets,” Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias was quoted as saying in the statement.

The Maldives, which is endangered by climate change and global warming, has worked extensively for decades to raise awareness and protect its natural resources.

The president of the Maldives signaled intentions in June 2012, at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, RIO+20 meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to significantly ramp up efforts to protect the marine environment.

The president outlined plans to implement a de-centralized system for environmental management and sustainable development, and was inspired by the success achieved in designating Baa Atoll as the first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the Maldives.