The future of Maldives, the world’s first submerged country, is entrusted to artificial island|NIKKEI STYLE


https%3A%2F%2Fimgix 1.jpg?ixlib=js 2.3.2&w=638&h=425&crop=focalpoint&fp x=0.5&fp y=0Maafushi Island garbage dump. People in the Maldives bring their rubbish directly here to dump or burn it. Waste disposal is a major challenge facing the Maldives. (Photo: MARCO ZORZANELLO)

“I feel the most peaceful when I’m out at sea,” Maldivian anthropologist Soiba Said told me before we boarded the motorboat.

The boat glides across the glass-clear Indian Ocean to the small island of Felidhoo. Travel between islands fringed by sandy beaches, past rows of holiday villas. A pod of dolphins frolicks in the soft surf, and a flying fish leaps high above the water.

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The Maldives is an island nation located southwest of India, consisting of 26 atolls and 1,196 islands floating on them. Most of them are low, flat islands that barely poke their heads out of the sea, yet the people here have lived with the sea for 2,500 years, building their culture and identity.

The Maldives, famous for its beautiful beach resorts, now faces the threat of becoming the first country in the world to disappear into the sea due to rising sea levels. Felidhoo Island, which Saeed visited this time, is no exception. Its influence has already begun to show up in the life and culture of the island.

https%3A%2F%2Fimgix 1.jpg?ixlib=js 2.3.2&w=500&h=334&crop=focalpoint&fp x=0.5&fp y=0In the Maldives, a couple walks from an empty house to the beach. Rising sea levels are eroding the foundations of homes. PHOTOGRAPH BY MARCO ZORZANELLO

Build artificial islands, build floating houses

As the pace of climate change accelerates, the Maldives is trying to buy as much time as possible while the rest of the world reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. He plans to spend a huge state budget to create an artificial island where most of the nearly 555,000 people can live and rest its future. Another Dutch design firm plans to build 5,000 floating homes.

It might seem like a drastic measure, but the Maldives are in such a corner that they had to go that far. “A temperature difference of 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees is a death sentence for the Maldives,” President Ibrahim Mohamed Soli said at the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Scotland in autumn 2021.

https%3A%2F%2Fimgix 1.jpg?ixlib=js 2.3.2&w=500&h=334&crop=focalpoint&fp x=0.5&fp y=0A high-rise apartment building on an artificial island made of sand dredged from the sea floor. Maldivians are migrating here to escape rising sea levels. (Photo: MARCO ZORZANELLO)

https%3A%2F%2Fimgix 1.jpg?ixlib=js 2.3.2&w=300&h=450&crop=focalpoint&fp x=0.5&fp y=0Mr. Hamad (around 30 years old), a former fisherman from Maafushi Island. Recently, due to overfishing, it is difficult to catch fish near the island. It is said that you have to go fishing far away. (Photo: MARCO ZORZANELLO)

https%3A%2F%2Fimgix 1.jpg?ixlib=js 2.3.2&w=300&h=450&crop=focalpoint&fp x=0.5&fp y=0PHOTOGRAPH BY MARCO ZORZANELLO A busy boulevard in Malé, the capital of the Maldives

This is not the first time the Maldives has made such complaints. Soli’s predecessor, Mohammad Nasheed, called a cabinet meeting a decade ago while diving underwater and proposed relocating the entire population to Australia a few years later.


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