Magazine article Risk Management

Higher Ground: The Maldives Islands Are Adopting a Radical Form of Evacuation Planning in Response to the Existential Risk That Rising Sea Levels Pose to the Residents of the Low-Lying Pacific Paradise: Relocate the Entire Nation

Magazine article Risk Management

Higher Ground: The Maldives Islands Are Adopting a Radical Form of Evacuation Planning in Response to the Existential Risk That Rising Sea Levels Pose to the Residents of the Low-Lying Pacific Paradise: Relocate the Entire Nation

Article excerpt

White sand, crystal clear waters and luxury resorts are a few things that pop into mind when thinking about the beautiful atolls that make up the Maldives Islands. The smallest of all Asian countries, the Maldives thrive on income from tourism and fishing as they continue to rebuild after the devastating 2004 tsunami. The islands, however, now have something more to worry about--they are at risk of slowly disappearing into the Indian Ocean.

The Maldives, an archipelago composed of more than 1,100 islands, rests a mere three feet above sea level. As a result, Maldivians are at risk for losing their entire homeland due to a gradual rise in sea levels caused by climate change.

Over the last century, the sea level has risen approximately eight inches, with current estimates placing the sea level rise at almost two feet by 2100. To quell resident's concerns about the future of their home, newly appointed President Mohamed Nasheed is planning for the possibility of having to create entirely new homeland for the more than 300,000 inhabitants and their descendants.

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In order to accomplish this, President Nasheed is working to create a sovereign wealth fund that will eventually be a financing source for his plan to buy land for future generations of Maldivians, who will most likely be displaced due to the looming environmental effects. The sovereign wealth fund will work as a state-owned investment fund that will draw its money from tourism revenues.

According to recent reports, President Nasheed plans to create the "new" Maldives territory in an area with similar culture, such as India or Sri Lanka.

The problem of rising sea levels, however, does not only affect tiny, Pacific islands. It also threatens coastal regions of the Unites States. New Orleans, for example, sits anywhere from six feet below sea level to 20 feet above it, and Miami is only six feet above sea level. …

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