AHMED KHALEEL, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the Maldives, said addressing multifaceted challenges — from ongoing and new conflicts to pandemics, climate change to food insecurities, gender-based inequalities to intolerance — requires recommitting to the values of peace, progress and sustainability. To this end, small States deserve a seat at the table, he said, adding: “We have the most to gain from multilateralism — and indeed, the most to lose.” A fair, just and equitable multilateral system also requires the revitalization of the United Nations as a whole. At the forefront of this revitalization is the much‑needed reform of the Security Council.
He further underscored the need to confront the climate crisis: warming beyond 1.5°C will lead to catastrophic ecological loss, causing severe damage to our lives and livelihoods. Citing the climate crisis as “a threat to security, to development and human rights”, he said domestically, the Maldives will continue to display strong and ambitious climate action. His country is conserving and protecting parts of its ocean, marine species and corals, while taking concrete steps to phase out single-use plastics. “At the upcoming COP28 (twenty-eighth UN Climate Change Conference), we must all raise climate ambition, to secure our future, for the future,” he declared, underlining the need to close the gap between ambition and implementation. A definitive road map to reduce emissions — in line with the Paris Agreement’s main goals — is crucial. Given the intrinsic link between climate and the ocean, it is crucial to protect this vast and important resource. As a “large ocean State”, the Maldives has an intrinsic responsibility to protect the ocean and its marine resources. Accordingly, he called for the development of an international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution.
Having identified that physical and digital connectivity can accelerate the Maldives’s achievement of the 2030 Agenda, his Government has established an Integrated National Public Ferry Network, which connects the country’s widely dispersed islands to one another. It is also undergoing a digital revolution, with the proliferation of online education, telemedicine and e-payment systems. These efforts are, in turn, supporting micro, small and medium-sized enterprises — the backbone of his country’s economy. He also called for the necessary liquidity support for small island developing States to facilitate a recovery that addresses the scale of the debt burden exacerbated by the pandemic. “The answer lies with the early adoption and use of the multidimensional vulnerability index,” he asserted. Turning to terrorism and violent extremism which “transcends borders”, he said “it has no single face or faith”. He also condemned the repeated and public acts of the desecration of the holy Qur’an in some European countries, noting that such acts cannot be justified under the guise of freedom of speech and expression.
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