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Will We Prosper, or Will We Disappear?

As climate-vulnerable developing countries incur higher costs from a problem they did not create, it becomes even more difficult for them to service their debts and pursue economic development. Nowhere is the injustice more obvious than in island states facing the prospect of complete submersion.

MALÉ – Scientists have long warned that the ocean is rising by a few millimeters every year. To many around the world, that might not sound like much. But in the Maldives, the cumulative effects of it are already showing up in the form of high waves that are flooding our fragile islands.

On July 1, sea swells, driven by powerful monsoon winds, swept through island villages across several of our southern atolls, flooding homes, hospitals, schools, and power facilities. On one island, 90% of homes were flooded, and the encroaching saltwater also damaged cultivated soils and natural mangroves. Residents said it was the worst sea-flooding event they had ever seen.

As a former president and current speaker of parliament in the Maldives, I have made saving our precious island state my guiding principle. And I certainly am not alone. The challenge of survival unites not just our people but people from island states around the world. Every day, we experience the injustice of living on the front lines of a problem that we did not create, while high-emitting countries rest easier on higher ground.

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