According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) vulnerability is the degree to which a system is susceptible to, or unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes (IPCC 2001:388). Adaptation refers to adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities (IPCC 2001:365). For the Maldives, adaptation is a multi-dimensional goal that aims to increase resilience of the vulnerable systems against climate hazards and risks to achieve sustainable development outcomes. Maldives is an archipelago of 25 lowlying coral atolls located in a north to south direction on the Laccadives-Chagos submarine ridge in the Indian Ocean. This chain is 860km long and the width varies between 80 to 120km. There are 1190 small tropical islands out of which 358 islands are being currently utilized mainly for human settlements, infrastructure and economic activities. The largest island is Gan in Laamu Atoll which is barely 6km. Maldives has a tropical monsoon climate. The south-west monsoon is from May to November and the north-east monsoon is from January to March. Daily temperature varies between 31 C and 23 C. The mean daily maximum temperature is 30.4 C and the mean daily minimum temperature is 25.7 C. Humidity ranges from 73 to 85% (MEC, 2004; Meteorology, 2006).

A. Adaptation Needs and Priorities
Maldives is an archipelago of 25 low-lying coral atolls located in the Indian Ocean southwest of the Indian subcontinent. The country’s climate is characterized as “tropical monsoon,” with monsoons occurring from May to November and from January to March (MEEW, 2007). Climate change is an existential threat to the small coral islands that make up the Maldives. Over 80 per cent of the land area of Maldives is less than one meter above mean sea level; as such, a sea level rise of even a meter would cause the loss of the entire land area of Maldives (MHAHE, 2001). In the near term, the islands of the Maldives are very vulnerable to inundation and gradual sea level rise will aggravate the existing problem of beach erosion; in the recent past, 62 per cent of all inhabited islands and 45 per cent of tourist resorts reported severe beach erosion (Shaig, 2006). Rising sea levels also threaten the scarce fresh water resources of Maldives. Salt water intrusion is gradually encroaching in to the islands’ small pockets or ‘lenses’ of fresh water underground.  The coral reefs surrounding the Maldives are at risk due to gradual warming of sea water (in addition to pollution from man-made sources). Given that these reefs support both the country’s tourism and fisheries  industries upon which the people depend almost exclusively, climate change is a profound threat to its very economic base.  
Maldives’ National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) identifies the following key areas of climate change related vulnerabilities: land, beach and human settlements; critical infrastructure; tourism; fisheries; human health; water resources; agriculture and food security; and coral reef biodiversity (MEEF, 2007). 
B. National Level Policies and Strategic Documents
Maldives completed its Initial National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2001. In addition to identifying key vulnerabilities, this report also proposed 12 high-priority adaptation and mitigation projects, clearly recognized the finance gap and indicated that adaptation action would have to be carried out using external resources.  
As a follow up, Maldives initiated its NAPA process in 2004. Progress towards it completion was immediately interrupted in December 2004 by the Indian Ocean tsunami. This single event changed Maldives’ status from a developing country back to a least developed country (LDC) and exposed how vulnerable this small  country is to natural calamities. Maldives eventually completed the NAPA in 2007.
Recommendations made in Maldives’ NAPA are based on a systematic review of the risk-vulnerability context. Within it, adaptation is seen as “a multi-dimensional goal that aims to increase resilience of the vulnerable systems against climate hazards and risks to achieve sustainable development outcomes” (MEEW, 2007). After consultations with the stakeholder groups and reviewing expert assessments, Maldives came up with 12 priority adaptation projects, as summarized in Table 3. The NAPA envisioned that implementation of the adaptation activities would be overseen by the National Commission for Protection of the Environment. A special interagency task force would ensure the respective agencies of the government mobilize international financial assistance and allocate public financing to the priority project profiles in the NAPA.
In 2011, Maldives announced it had signed the world’s first Strategic National Action Plan that integrates disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. The policy was formulated using broad consultations with key sectors including housing, construction, environment and health, and focuses on governance and decentralization as key to the success of risk reduction and adaptation. The policy is viewed as a landmark initiative within the disaster risk reduction and adaptation communities.
It may be mentioned that Maldives is a very active and visible player in the international climate conferences and negotiation meetings. And, even though its own greenhouse gas emissions are insignificant, Maldives has declared a national ambition to become a carbon neutral country by 2020.
C. Current Adaptation Action
Compared to other South Asia countries, the number of discrete adaptation projects underway in Maldives appears to be low, although each addresses Maldives’ adaptation priorities as identified though its national policies. One project, “Integration of Climate Change risks into the Maldives Safer Island 
Development Program,” explicitly addressing  a priority need identified in  Maldives’ NAPA.  In addition, a Climate Trust Fund was established in December 2009 by the European Union and the World Bank for the Maldives. It aims to build a climate resilient economy through various mitigation and adaptation activities.  The majority of projects are focused on policy formulation and integration, although the areas risk reduction, coastal zones, water, forestry and meteorology are also being addressed. Funders of these projects include the Australia, European Commission, French Global Environment Fund, Germany, the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), Norway, Sweden, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the World Bank.  
D. Proposed Adaptation Action
Maldives identifies 12  priority adaptation actions in its NAPA, one of which is currently receiving funding through the LDCF: “Integration of future climate change scenarios into the Safer Island Strategy.” In addition, the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) is currently considering funding for an additional project that may address NAPA priorities. The majority of these proposed adaptation actions focus on risk reduction in coastal zones, as well as the building of infrastructure to reduce the vulnerability of coastal populations. Proposed project activities also address the areas of health, tourism, water, agriculture, nature and fisheries.


Islam, Faisal; Hove, Hilary; Parry, Jo-Ellen. (2011) “Review of Current and Planned Adaptation Action: South Asia.” Adaptation Patnership/International Institute for Sustainable Development, pp.108-118.

Additional References


Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water [MEEW] (2007). National Adaptation Programme of Action: The Republic of Maldives. Retrieved 
Ministry of Home Affairs, Housing and Environment [MHAHE] (2001). First National Communication of the Republic of Maldives. Retrieved 


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Integrating Tourism - Summary Report of the Initial Consultations - May 2008

Integrating Tourism into Adaptation to Climate Change in the Maldives - Summary Report of the Initial Consultations (14-23 May 2008)

Convened by the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water

Lead Organizations:

  • Ministry of Environment, Energy and Water
  • Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation
  • Maldives Association of Tourism Industry
  • United Nations World Tourism Organisation
  • United Nations Development Programme

Report prepared by: John Hay, Gabor Vereczi, Amjad Abdulla and Ali Saleem

Implementing Tourism Adaptation to Climate Change in the Maldives

The Maldives tourism sector faces major issues resulting from climate change, such as shoreline and beach erosion, reduced water availability, interrupted supply chain and coral bleaching, among others. The aim of this project is to further develop and demonstrate adaptation initiatives that will reduce the vulnerability of the tourism sector, and its natural and human resource base, to the impacts of climate variability and change. This project enhanced the sustainability of the natural resource base and the capacity of operators and tourism dependent communities to respond to these challenges. Tourism operators in the Maldives are already taking actions on environmental management. This project strengthened these measures and the policy environment enabling their implementation in an integrated way.

The project was developed in the framework of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and its Focal Area on Climate Change. An initial proposal was approved by GEF to facilitate the first phase of the project development. This phase served to define a full project proposal through stakeholder consultations. The full project was 4 years duration, funded from the GEF Special Climate Change Fund.

Level of Intervention: 
Key Collaborators: 
POINT (73.4655731176 4.18498530506)
Funding Source: 
Project Details: 

The Maldives is an international champion of climate change, as a key environment and development issue. For example, in 1987 the Maldives brought climate change to the attention of the UN General Assembly, for the first time. Nationally, the strong linkage between environment and development is exemplified by the tourism sector. Environmental management in the tourism industry is highly self-regulated and is well ahead of government policy. However, practices vary greatly among resorts and there is a need for a more consistent application of EMSs for all resorts, with information on experience being collected in a central database and then disseminated.

The Marine Research Centre offered to provide backstopping for an environmental database, including a web-based online system specific to the tourism sector. Such a system has been proposed as part of the World Bank Environmental Management Project. It should also include a component on strategic environmental assessment. QMS Maldives has the capacity to audit the EMS of a resort, to ensure that good environmental practices are in place and are not just ad hoc activities. QMS Maldives is assisting some resorts to gain ISO14,000 accreditation. Resorts need to take a life cycle approach to dealing with waste issues, including purchasing policies and packaging requirements. The environmental commitment of resorts was questioned by some participants, including whether most resorts had staff with appropriate environmental qualifications.

Source: Integrating Tourism - Summary Report of the Initial Consultations May 2008 (John Hay, Gabor Vereczi, Amjad Abdulla and Ali Saleem).

Monitoring & Evaluation: 

Project Start:

Project Inception Workshop: will be held within the first 2 months of project start with those with assigned roles in the project organization structure, UNDP country office and where appropriate/feasible regional technical policy and programme advisors as well as other stakeholders.  The Inception Workshop is crucial to building ownership for the project results and to plan the first year annual work plan. 


Day to day monitoring of implementation progress: will be the responsibility of the Project Manager, based on the project's Annual Work Plan and its indicators, with overall guidance from the Project Director. The Project Team will inform the UNDP-CO of any delays or difficulties faced during implementation so that the appropriate support or corrective measures can be adopted in a timely and remedial fashion.


Project Progress Reports (PPR): quarterly reports will be assembled based on the information recorded and monitored in the UNDP Enhanced Results Based Management Platform. Risk analysis will be logged and regularly updated in ATLAS.


Annual Project Review/Project Implementation Reports (APR/PIR): This key report is prepared to monitor progress made since project start and in particular for the previous reporting period (30 June to 1 July).  The APR/PIR combines both UNDP and GEF reporting requirements.  

Periodic Monitoring through Site Visits: 

UNDP CO and the UNDP RCU will conduct visits to project sites based on the agreed schedule in the project's Inception Report/Annual Work Plan to assess first hand project progress.  Other members of the Project Board may also join these visits.  A Field Visit Report/BTOR will be prepared by the CO and UNDP RCU and will be circulated no less than one month after the visit to the project team and Project Board members.

Mid-Term of Project Cycle:

Mid-Term Evaluation: will determine progress being made toward the achievement of outcomes and will identify course correction if needed.  It will focus on the effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness of project implementation; will highlight issues requiring decisions and actions; and will present initial lessons learned about project design, implementation and management.  Findings of this review will be incorporated as recommendations for enhanced implementation during the final half of the project's term.  

End of Project:  

Final Evaluation: will take place three months prior to the final Project Board meeting and will be undertaken in accordance with UNDP and GEF guidance.  The final evaluation will focus on the delivery of the project’s results as initially planned (and as corrected after the mid-term evaluation, if any such correction took place).  The final evaluation will look at impact and sustainability of results, including the contribution to capacity development and the achievement of global environmental benefits/goals.  The Terminal Evaluation should also provide recommendations for follow-up activities.

Project Terminal Report: This comprehensive report will summarize the results achieved (objectives, outcomes, outputs), lessons learned, problems met and areas where results may not have been achieved.  It will also lie out recommendations for any further steps that may need to be taken to ensure sustainability and replicability of the project's results.

Learning and Knowledge Sharing:

Results from the project will be disseminated within and beyond the project intervention zone through existing information sharing networks and forums. 

The project will identify and participate, as relevant and appropriate, in scientific, policy-based and/or any other networks, which may be of benefit to project implementation though lessons learned. The project will identify, analyze, and share lessons learned that might be beneficial in the design and implementation of similar future projects.

Establish a two-way flow of information between this project and other projects of a similar focus. 


Gernot Laganda
UNDP Regional Technical Advisor
Funding Source Short Code: 
Project Status: 

Maldives Request for CEO Endorsement (October 2005)

Maldives Request for CEO Endorsement from October 2005.