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Maldives' Pathway Toward a Sustainable City

The Maldives faces unique challenges due to its small and undiversified economy. External shocks, such as the Ukraine invasion, lead to soaring food and energy prices, forcing the country to spend over 10 percent of its annual GDP on diesel imports for energy. Additionally, the Maldives suffered a severe setback in 2020 as a result of the pandemic-induced decline in tourism, which is the country's main source of income. The challenges continued into 2022 as global commodity price surges added pressure on domestic inflation, the government's fiscal position, and the balance of payments. Adding to these predicaments, the Maldives is highly vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather due to climate change, with much of the nation just a meter above sea level, potentially facing submersion by the end of this century.


To mitigate these challenges and bolster its resilience, the Maldives is actively expanding its renewable energy capacity, investing in green infrastructure, and launching mangrove restoration projects to safeguard against coastal flooding. The nation's commitment to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 marks a significant stride toward sustainability. However, given limitations in public borrowing capacity, the private sector's role in mitigating the financing gap is indispensable. With substantial support from the World Bank, initiatives like the Accelerating Sustainable Private Investments in Renewable Energy and the Accelerating Renewable Energy Integration and Sustainable Energy projects are facilitating the installation of 53.5 megawatts of solar panels, the construction of 40 MWh of battery storage solutions, and the modernization of the electricity grid to incorporate cleaner energy sources.


One of the projects within these initiatives is the Maldives' solar project. In its early stages, back in 2014, the project managed to attract only four investors, as reported by the World Bank. However, with the implementation of a robust risk mitigation structure, the project witnessed a remarkable increase, garnering 63 bids in 2022. This surge in private investment has led to significant cost reductions. The power purchase price, which determines the cost of electricity from solar power plants, has plummeted from 21 cents per unit to less than 9.8 cents, a considerable drop compared to the prevailing price of imported fossil energy. The positive impacts of this progress extend beyond economic benefits and are also highly practical for Maldivian citizens. For instance, the decreased cost of clean energy has made electricity more affordable and dependable for households. This transition to renewable energy sources contributes to a cleaner environment, a crucial factor for a country heavily reliant on its natural beauty and ecosystem for tourism.

Through collaborative efforts focused on renewable energy and sustainable practices, the Maldives is on its way to becoming a sustainable city. The nation's ability to attract private investors has led to the expansion of renewable energy capacity, lowered energy import costs, and the provision of affordable and dependable clean energy for its citizens. The forward-thinking approach of successive Maldivian governments, combined with crucial development financing from partners like the World Bank, positions the country to attain its ambitious energy transformation objectives. This progress not only bolsters the Maldives' resilience against economic and environmental challenges but also offers an invaluable model for other nations grappling with similar obstacles.

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