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Maldives National Capacity Self Assessment Report and Action Plan for Global Climate Change, Biodiversity and Land Degradation Conventions
FINAL REPORT


Environment Section

Ministry of Housing, Transport and Environment

Government of Republic of Maldives
January 2009

Executive Summary
The National Capacity Self-Assessment (NCSA) process was completed in Maldives from 2005 – 2008 with support from UNDP and the Global Environment Facility. NCSA was aimed at identifying the needs and priorities for capacity building in environmental management, particularly as it relates to the three Rio Conventions that were initiated at the UN Conference on Environment and Development, or “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. These conventions include:

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD)

  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

  • Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

NCSA has been completed as part of an Integrated Climate Change Strategy that also involved a Technology Needs Assessment and the Climate Change National Adaptation Plan of Action for Maldives. This report provides a summary of the NCSA process, the priorities for capacity development that have emerged from the process, the issues and current and planned activities related to environmental management capacity development in Maldives, and the proposed Action Plan for NCSA follow-up to address the priority capacity needs.


The NCSA capacity development needs that were identified in the thematic reports have been categorized and described under the following topics:

Climate Change:



    • Vulnerability and Adaptation (V&A)

    • Comprehensive awareness and understanding of the climate change issue

    • Observation and measurement

    • Abatement of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration

    • Clean development mechanism (CDM)

    • Transfer of environmentally sound technologies

    • National climate change strategy

    • Convention negotiation capacity

    • Inventory

Biodiversity Conservation:



  • Awareness and Education

  • National Policy and Planning

  • Legal and Regulatory Framework

  • Institutional Mandates, Jurisdictions, Co-ordination and Decentralisation

  • Information and Data Management

  • Incentive Systems, Valuation and Economics

  • Negotiation

  • Internal Organizational Constraints

  • Human Resources

  • In-situ Management and Protected Areas

  • Biosafety and The Cartegnea Protocol

Land Management:



  • Priority One: Assessment of land resources and threats to SLM

  • Priority Two: Awareness creation and knowledge sharing among all relevant Stakeholders

  • Priority Three: Develop an action plan

  • Priority Four: Create Political Commitment

  • Priority Five: Enforcement of laws and regulations

NCSA has also highlighted weaknesses in coordination and collaboration between government agencies and amongst stakeholders in general – public sector, private sector and communities. The experiences with NCSA implementation and other programmes in Maldives provide insights for capacity development. Key concerns relate to (i) Organizational capacity, (ii) Technical capacity, (iii) Human resources continuity, (iv) Strategic priorities (v) Community outreach, (vi) Programme delivery partnerships and (vi) Projects vs programme. The overriding issues include:



  • Strategic planning, budgeting and organizational development within the Environment Section of MHTE;

  • Environment Section capacities to lead and support global environment conventions implementation and reporting;

  • Policy frameworks that mainstream environment in development sectors and activities and that provide the necessary direction for action and broad stakeholder involvement;

  • Functional coordination mechanisms within government and across sectors that encourage collaboration;

  • Effective decentralised processes for mobilizing community and local action on environmental issues;

  • National training and skills development related to environmental management to support long term Maldives capacity to address global environmental issues in the country.

The NCSA Action Plan is intended to facilitate:



  • Institutional and human resources development by the Government of the Republic of Maldives in relation to obligations for implementation of the global conventions on climate change, biodiversity and land degradation;




  • Achievement of the capacity development goals in the Third National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP3) as they relate to the three global environmental conventions; and




  • Preparation of proposals for capacity development support by the Global Environmental Facility and other international donors.

There are four proposed priorities that are the central focus of the NCSA Action Plan:



  • Organizational development within the Environment Section of the Ministry of Environment, Transport and Housing.

  • Improved policy and legislation related to climate change, biodiversity and land degradation.

  • Effective inter-agency and multi-stakeholder coordination and consultation mechanisms related to climate change, biodiversity and land degradation.

  • Establishing atoll level environmental management in a manner that is practical and sustainable.


NCSA Final Report Recommendations


  1. The Environment Section of MHTE and UNDP/GEF should assess the opportunities for implementation of the NCSA Action Plan with a focus on the capacity gaps that are not being addressed by existing and proposed projects. These gaps are related to the priorities described in the Action Plan (Appendix 1).




  1. The organizational development needs of the environment agencies in Maldives should be reviewed by MHTE in conjunction with the Civil Service Commission and the related public service reform process. The review should assess the capacity priorities described in this report and propose organisational strengthening as outlined in the NCSA Action Plan.




  1. The Government of Maldives, UNDP and The World Bank should ensure a coordinated, results-based approach to environmental management training that is linked to organisation plans and job descriptions within government.




  1. The implementation mechanisms for NEAP 3, particularly in regard to climate change, biodiversity conservation and land management actions, should be clarified and communicated by MHTE. A consolidated implementation strategy should be considered by government, UNDP, The World Bank and other donors. It should strive for effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability in sector-wide environmental management capacity building.




  1. International donors, including GEF, should be requested to contribute toward funding of the current gaps in environmental management capacity that are presented in the Maldives NCSA Action Plan.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Executive Summary ii


1.0 Introduction 1

1.1 NCSA Purpose 1

1.2 Status of Global Environmental Conventions 1

1.3 Environmental Challenges in Maldives 4

1.4 Maldives NCSA Process 5
2.0 Thematic Assessment and Cross Cutting Issues 8

2.1 Climate Change 8

2.2 Biodiversity Conservation 9

2.3 Land Degradation 12

2.4 Cross Cutting Issues 14

2.5 Related Capacity Assessments 15

UNEP Post-Tsunami Assessment 15

AECP Capacity Assessment 16

MFF Capacity and Training Needs Assessment 17
3.0 Context for Capacity Building 18

3.1 National Development Plan (NDP) 18

3.2 Maldives National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) 18

3.3 Integrated Climate Change Strategy (ICCS) 20

3.4 Environmental Management Project (EMP) 24

3.5 Atoll Ecosystem Conservation Project (AECP) 25

3.6 Sustainable Land Management Project (SLMP) 26

3.7 UNDP Environmental Priorities 28


4.0 Capacity Development Priority Areas 30

4.1 Factors Affecting NCSA Strategies 30

4.2 Key Issues for Capacity Development 31

4.3 Strategies for Addressing the Issues 31

4.4 Implementing the Action Plan 33
5.0 Conclusions and Recommendations 34

5.1 Conclusions 34

5.2 Recommendations 36
Appendix 1: NCSA Action Plan 38


Appendix 2: Database on Capacity Development Needs 47
Acronyms

Atoll Ecosystem Conservation Project AECP

Convention on Biological Diversity UNCBD

Convention to Combat Desertification UNCCD

Environmental Management Project EMP

Environmental Protection and Preservation Act EPPA

Global Environment Facility GEF

Government of Republic of Maldives GOM

Greenhouse Gases GHG

Integrated Climate Change Strategy ICCS

International Union for the Conservation of Nature IUCN

Land Degradation LD

Least Developed Countries LDC

Least Developed Country/Small Island State LDC/SIDS

Land Use Planning LUP

Mangroves for the Future MFF

Millennium Development Goals MDGs

Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water MEEW

Ministry of Housing, Transport and Environment MHTE

National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan NBSAP

National Action Plan (UNCCD) NAP

National Adaptation Plan of Action NAPA

National Development Plan NDP

Project Management Unit PMU

Safer Islands Development Programme SIDP

Sustainable Land Management SLM

Technology Needs Assessment TNA

United Nations Development Assistance Framework UNDAF

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC

United Nations Development Programme UNDP



  1. Introduction



    1. NCSA Purpose

The Government of the Republic of Maldives undertook the National Capacity Self-Assessment (NCSA) process in 2005 – 2008 with support from UNDP and the Global Environment Facility. NCSA was aimed at identifying the needs and priorities for capacity building in environmental management, particularly as it relates to the three Rio Conventions that were initiated at the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), or “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. These conventions include:

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD)

  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

  • Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)

NCSAs have been completed in over 150 developing countries. They are funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and administered through two of its implementing agencies, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).


The essential purpose of NCSA is assist developing countries in taking stock of their current capacities and proposing action to address capacity needs. The GEF requires that NCSAs address the following objectives:

  • identify priority issues for action within the thematic areas of biodiversity, climate change and desertification/land degradation;

  • find synergies among capacity needs across the three thematic areas;

  • catalyze targeted and coordinated actions and requests for external assistance; and

  • link country actions to protect the global environment to the broader national environmental management and sustainable development framework.

NCSA is part of a larger programme of activities funded by UNDP-GEF in support of global environmental management. The other projects include a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), Atoll Ecosystem Conservation Project (AECP), National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA) and a Technology Needs Assessment (TNA).




    1. Status of the Global Environmental Conventions

In November 1992, Maldives ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Maldives WAS the first country to sign the Kyoto Protocol in December 1998. The concerns about climate change and sea level rise dominant the international and national environmental agenda in Maldives.

In October 2004, preparation of National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) under UNFCCC began and was completed in December 2006. NAPA was developed with wide stakeholder participation and consultation at the atoll and national levels. The goal of the NAPA is to provide a framework for climate change adaptation that enhances the resilience of the natural, human and social systems and ensures their sustainability in the face of predicted climate hazards. In the selection and prioritization of adaptation activities, NAPA is consistent with the development goals outlined in Vision 2020, the latest National Development Plan, 7NDP and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Under NAPA, 20 adaptation projects were proposed (see description of follow-up action in Section 3.3 below).

In October 1992, Maldives ratified the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD) in. A National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan of the Maldives (NBSAP) was prepared in 2002. The Maldives Protected Area System Project (MPAS) commenced design in 2002-03 and the current Atoll Ecosystem Conservation Project (AECP) is intended to further develop this system. Performance related to implementation of the NBSAP was reviewed in 2006 and is being considered under the AEC Project.1

In September 2002, Maldives acceded to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). Due to lack of technical, financial and human resources, the development of a National Action Plan (NAP) to combat desertification has not been undertaken. Some ministries and departments have undertaken small steps toward a new Land Policy and a Land Information System. A proposed Sustainable Land Management Project has been approved under the GEF-funded LDC-SIDS Portfolio Project. Various land management improvements are also being addressed by the government to respond to coastal erosion and international support has been provided for some land and water management under the tsunami recovery programme.


The Rio Conventions obligate signatories to undertake certain actions to address climate change, biodiversity and land degradation. Table 1 summarizes the general requirements and the responsibilities of the relevant agencies in Maldives with regard to various articles of the conventions.
Table 1 - Requirements of Parties to the Rio Conventions

- Responsibilities in Republic of Maldives


 

Climate
Change


UNFCCC

Biological
Diversity


UNCBD

Land Degradation

UNCCD

Environmental conventions responsibilities in Maldives

National Inventories

Article 4(b)

 

 

National & Regional Action Plans

Article 4(b)

“strategies”
Article 6(a), (b)

Articles 9, 10

  • Min of Construction & Public Works

  • Atolls Div., Min of Home Affairs

  • Planning Div., Min of Finance

Identification & Monitoring

 

Article 8

Article 16

  • Marine Research Centre

  • Environment Research Centre

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment

  • Maldives Water & Sanitation Ath.

Develop Protected Areas

 

Article 8

 

  • Min of Fisheries, Agriculture & Marine Resources

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment

Legislation

Preamble

Article 8(k)

Article 5(e),

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment

  • Min of Fisheries, Agriculture & Marine Resources

  • Min of Tourism (islands leasing)

Research

Article 5

Article 12(b)

Articles 17, 19(b)

  • Marine Research Centre

  • Environment Research Centre

Public Education

Article 6

Article 13

Articles 5(d),19, 6

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment

Environmental Assessment

Impact Article 4(i)(d)

Article 14

 

  • Environment Research Centre

Clearinghouse for technical information

 

Article 18

Article 18

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment

Public Participation

Article 6(i)(a)(iii)

Article 9

Article 19(4)

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment

Conference of Parties (COP) / regular reviews

Article 7

 

 

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment

Exchange Information

Article 7

Article 17

Article 16

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment

Training

Article 6

Article 12(a)

Article 19

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment

  • Marine Research Centre

  • Environment Research Centre

  • Min of Construction & Public Works

Reports

Article 12

Article 26

 

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment

Data Collection

 

 

Article 16

  • Marine Research Centre

  • Environment Research Centre

Examine obligations- Assess implementation

Article 7(e)

Article 23

 

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment

Report Steps to COP

Article 12

Article 26

Article 26

  • Env Section, Min of Housing, Transport & Environment




    1. Environmental Challenges

Maldives is a country with chain of 25 coral atolls, 860km long and 80 to 120km wide, located south west of the Indian subcontinent and supporting the largest group of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. There are over 2,000 distinct reefs covering a total of 4,500km2. The Maldives archipelago consists of approximately 1,190 small sand islands formed from the reefs, with a total land area of just 235km2, 80% of which lies less than 1m above mean sea level. Currently 358 islands, covering 176km2, are used for human settlement, infrastructure or economic purposes, while 834 islands with a total area of 59km2 are in their natural state.

Maldives is one of the world’s most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. More than 85% of land area is estimated to be less than 1.5 m above mean sea level, with the highest elevation in Maldives being as little as 4.0 meters. Human settlements and vital infrastructure lie close to the shoreline in the Maldives. No islands have an elevation greater than 3 m and almost all inhabited islands have some degree of coastal erosion. The country’s vulnerability was demonstrated during the December 2004 tsunami, which damaged 69 islands and led to evacuation of fourteen islands.


The population of Maldives is approximately 300,000, and growing at 1.8% per annum. One-third of the population lives on the capital island, Malé, while two-thirds are distributed across 198 islands, with settlements of 1000-5000 people on 57 islands, 500-1000 people on 60 islands, and fewer than 500 people on 74 islands. The population on each atoll ranges from 1,600 on Vaavu to 18,000 on Seenu atoll. The availability of social services and infrastructure in Male’ has resulted in greater inward migration to the capital.
At present the population densities on some of the inhabited islands have reached very high levels. Nearly half the inhabited islands have population densities over 2,000 person / Km2. In most cases built-up areas cover the entire island. Overcrowding, poor sewerage and sanitation, over-extraction of ground water and contamination with salt water, and improper waste disposal practices are some of the environmental challenges these islands face.
On most of the atoll islands population density and agriculture have placed pressure on the land, and groundwater has been contaminated and depleted due to over pumping and the absence of proper sewage treatment. Saltwater intrusion has further degraded the quality of the aquifers. Improper solid and hazardous waste disposal also contributes to many of Maldives environmental problems.
The ecosystems of the Maldives are also highly vulnerable to natural disasters and human disturbances. The country is composed entirely of coral reefs contained within 26 atolls, or great ring-shaped reef structures. The Maldivian atolls are particularly significant because they are the largest group of coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. The Maldivian atolls also act as a stepping-stone for transport of planktonic larvae of reef organisms from both the western and eastern Indian Ocean and are believed to play a significant role in the distribution and maintenance of coral reef biodiversity throughout the Indian Ocean.
The reefs support over 1,100 species of reef fishes and over 250 species of corals and globally significant populations of green (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtles as well as threatened populations of whale shark (Rhincodon typus), reef sharks and manta rays (Manta birostris). In addition, the Maldivian atolls provide an important habitat for at least 21 species of whale and dolphin.
Beach erosion is a serious problem in about 50% of the atoll islands. Ecological impacts of beach erosion include direct loss of coastal vegetation and increased risk of flooding and adverse impacts on inland vegetation. Coastal erosion in Maldives is a land degradation problem that is being addressed under the country’s National Adaptation Plan of Action (NAPA).
The government is facilitating the migration of inhabitants from smaller, isolated and more vulnerable islands to larger islands where there is better opportunity to protect people and infrastructure from high sea levels and other detrimental consequences of climate change.

A major environmental concern of the government is to develop the concept of ‘safe islands’ where larger islands may ultimately provide safe havens for people who are forced to migrate before or after extreme natural disasters. ‘Safe islands’ are expected to enable communities to sustain social and economic development during emergencies and disasters. Ecologically safe zones and structures will mitigate the impact of climate change induced events such as storm surges, tidal swells and sea level rise, and help to reduce tsunami hazards, and elevated areas and buildings may enable vertical evacuation.


1.4 Maldives NCSA Process



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