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The Embassy Lecture Series 2013: Embassy of the Maldives

Japanese (TOYO Global RDS)

Japanese

The Embassy Lecture Series is hosted by the Faculty of Regional Development Studies.
The second lecture of the 2013 series was held on Thursday, November 14, 2013.
Ambassador Mr. Ahmed Khaleel gave an inspiring lecture to about 70 students and teachers who attended this great opportunity.

大使 集合写真

Ambassador Khaleel first gave an overview of the Maldives including details of geography and history illustrated with PowerPoint images. Situated on the equator, approximately 700 km south west of Sri Lanka, this country has unique land features with about 1,190 islands and 26 atolls, consisting of 99% water and 1% land. While 201 islands are inhabited, 106 are reserved for tourist resorts and 70 are for industrial or agricultural use. The capital, Male, is one of the most densely populated places in the world where one-third of the total 365 thousand citizens live. With over 800 years of known history, the Maldivians have created their own culture due to little interference from other countries except for 15 years of Portuguese rule in the 15th century and during a period as a protectorate of the British Empire in the 17th Century. The Maldives was a Buddhist country until the arrival of the Islamic religion in the 12th Century.

Next, Ambassador Khaleel spoke about political and economic issues. He said the Maldives have adapted to a Presidential system of government. A multi-party system was introduced in 2005 after a series of proactive demonstrations by the young generation against the government. Currently, their unicameral parliament consists of 77 elected members and with elections to be held every five years. Fishing and Tourism are the two major industries. Fishing is the largest employer while tourism is the largest foreign exchange earner. The Maldives was the sixth poorest country in the world when they became independent in 1965. Thanks to their industries, they moved up from being a least developed country to a middle income country on January 1st, 2011.

Climate change is the major threat facing the country. Their islands average only 1.5 meters above sea level. Therefore, global warming and a rising sea level threaten their very survival. Rising ocean temperatures threaten the coral reefs that surround their islands.
Changing weather patterns are increasing the number and severity of freak storms. Although September is usually the beginning of the best season for tourism, heavy rain has severely affected transportation. “We can’t procrastinate solving the environmental issues because we are already suffering from them. In addition, these are not only problems for the Maldives but these are world-wide problems. If the glaciers in the Himalayas melt, many nations will face the threat of land submersion,” Ambassador Khaleel strongly emphasized.

The country has actively called on the international community to address such problems since United Nations General Assembly in 1987. At the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the Copenhagen Summit, the Maldives stated their intention to become carbon neutral by 2020. At the 2012 Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, they decided to make the entire country a marine reserve by 2017. Ahead of the Copenhagen Summit, the Maldives government made a unique plea for action against climate change by holding the world's first underwater cabinet meeting in diving gear. Their coral reefs, turtles, whale sharks, dolphins and sharks are protected under their law.

In the last part of the lecture, Ambassador Khaleel spoke of the friendly relations that exist between the Maldives and Japan and which have lasted more than forty years. The Ambassador mentioned every single citizen in the country has received benefit from Japan through infrastructural, educational, and financial support from Official Development Assistance (ODA) and major Japanese companies, and tourism. Canned tuna and dried bonito flakes “Katsuobushi” have further tightened bilateral relations because both countries consume them. After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the Maldives donated 600 thousand Tuna Cans and 7.8 million rufiyaa (about 50 million yen) as a token of gratitude and friendship.

In the question-and-answer session, a number of students and teachers were eager to ask questions many of which were related to “environmental issues” such as water supply, eco-activities, and garbage-disposal problems. Desalination systems cost a great deal of money for their installation and maintenance. Rainwater can be too polluted to drink. Therefore, Maldivians have to depend on bottle water. Ambassador and the government have actively called on divers, marine photographers, students, tourists, and mass communication through diving festivals, lectures, and tourism to recognize the importance and urgency of environmental protection. The country has begun cooperation with an Indian company to deal with waste disposal but further work is needed.

In feedback about the lecture, many students answered the lecture dramatically changed their image of the country. The nation has not only resort islands but also suffers from severe environmental issues, has strong relations with Japan, and even offered support after the Tohoku disaster. This presentation offered information not available in guidebooks and inspired the audience, ending on a high note.

講義風景

Embassy of the Maldives

Upcoming Lecture;
Date: Dec. 19th (Ethiopia) 10:40AM-12:10PM
@ Classroom 1203 of 1st Building, 2nd Floor, Hakusan Campus
Anyone is welcome to attend this lecture!