Listen to the sixth episode of the Climate Champions podcast, “Restoring a healthy ocean in the Maldives.” Via SoundCloud.

ALICANTE/BARCELONA — Climate change has long posed a major threat to the Maldives, with rising sea levels meaning all 26 atolls that make up the country could be underwater by 2100. Add to that the constant risk of a tsunami, overfishing, and the death of coral reefs, and it is a precarious situation affecting the environment as well as the livelihoods of Maldivians.

Shaha Hashim, field project manager for the Blue Marine Foundation — a charity dedicated to restoring ocean health by addressing overfishing, restoring marine habitats, and securing marine protected areas — warned that unless action is taken now to restore the ocean, Maldivians are at risk of becoming climate refugees.

“Protecting our natural ecosystems is the best insurance policy for us humans. … Marine protected areas are one of the best ways to tackle climate change impacts, to prevent ecosystem breakdown, and ensure food security and livelihoods,” Hashim said.

Protecting the ocean and its ecosystems means tourism and fisheries — which account for almost 80% of the Maldives' economy — are also protected. “More fishing in the absence of management is very shortsighted, so we need to focus on creating more effective marine protected areas [that are] off-limits to fishing so fish can grow and breed successfully,” Hashim said.

Blue Marine Foundation’s mission is to have 30% of the world’s ocean protected by 2030.

In the sixth episode of the Climate Champions podcast, Devex talks with Hashim to find out more about the impact of climate change on the South Asian nation, how the oceans can be restored, and what other small island developing states can learn from the Maldives.

Listen to the full interview.

Visit the Turning the Tide series for more coverage on climate change, resilience building, and innovative solutions in small island developing states. You can join the conversation using the hashtag #TurningtheTide.

About the authors

  • Rebecca Root

    Rebecca Root is a Reporter and Editorial Associate at Devex producing news stories, video, and podcasts as well as partnership content. She has a background in finance, travel, and global development journalism and has written for a variety of publications while living and working in New York, London, and Barcelona.
  • Naomi Mihara

    Naomi Mihara is a Video Journalist for Devex, based in Barcelona. She has a background in journalism and international development, having previously worked as an assistant correspondent for Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and as a communications officer for the International Organization for Migration in Southeast Asia. She holds a master's degree in multimedia journalism from Bournemouth University.