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International Partnerships

GCCA+ in the Maldives – Beyond tourism: helping people and nature to thrive

It is a sunny morning in the Addu Nature Park. The migrating birds have flown, but the calls of the native water hen and cranes carry clearly across the waters of the Maldives’ largest inland protected area.

The park is home to an amazing array of biodiversity, including 28 bird species. But it is not just birds that have benefitted; the park has created much-needed livelihoods for many people in the local community. 76-year-old Hussan Abdulla is one of several registered coconut collectors who come to the park every morning to collect coconuts that have fallen from the palms. Back home, he removes the husks and sells the coconuts to local shops.

“I’ve been collecting coconuts from this place for the last six years,” Hussan explains. “It gives me enough income to meet my daily needs. And going to the park every day keeps me active, even at my age!”

GCCA+ Adaptation to Climate Change in Maldives - Photo credit: Ali Nishan/Climate Tracker
Coconut husks - Photo credit: Ali Nishan/Climate Tracker

The Maldives have long been a poster child for climate action. A decade ago, former president Mohamed Nasheed famously held an underwater cabinet meeting to draw attention to global warming. The island nation, best known for its white sands, palm-fringed atolls and luxury holiday resorts, faces an existential threat from rising sea levels. One of the world’s lowest-lying countries, its population of over half a million people is extremely vulnerable to storm surges, sea swells and severe weather.

All of which points to the need for urgent climate adaptation and mitigation measures. Within the Addu Nature Park, local communities are allowed to farm the land, provided their traditional and modern methods alike are eco-friendly. Some of the money the farmers make from their produce goes back into the community.

Farmer with production - Photo credit: Ali Nishan/Climate Tracker
Collecting waste - Photo credit: Ali Nishan/Climate Tracker

Meanwhile, at the Hulhumeedhoo waste management centre, local people are employed in sorting plastic for export, glass for use in concrete, and organic material for compost that is sold back to the farmers to fertilise their crops.

The waste management project is part of the EU’s GCCA+ climate change programme. Building on a previous initiative for wetlands and coral reefs, the current €4 million programme is geared towards ecotourism and environmental protection in the south of the Maldives.

Tourism is the country’s lifeblood. Addu Atoll attracts local and international visitors, who flock to places like the Bedhi bay area, famous for its red mangroves, baby stingrays and sharks. Local mother-of-two Saheema often brings her children here to snorkel: “Since the nature park was created, the whole place looks better and cleaner. I'm proud to have a place like this on my island.”

Visiting the park, photo credit:Ali Nishan/Climate Tracker
Canoeing, Photo credit: Ali Nishan/Climate Tracker

About GCCA+

The Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) is a European Union-funded flagship initiative to help the most vulnerable countries address climate change. It focuses on building countries’ resilience to climate change and supporting them in implementing their commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the new European Consensus on Development.