COP26: The Maldives’ time is running out, as not one, but three existential threats threaten the country’s survival.

The COP26 conference is a global United Nations summit on climate change and how countries plan to address it.
It was scheduled to take place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November of last year, with over 200 world leaders expected to attend, but it was postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. One of the issues being addressed is the danger that the Maldives archipelago faces.

Unless urgent action is taken to reduce global warming, the Indian Ocean archipelago of over 1,000 islands may be submerged by the end of the century, as rising sea levels, disrupted weather patterns, and coastal erosion threaten its survival, say the people at

The Maldives is battling for its very existence.

Photo by Asad Photo Maldives on

As an archipelago of low-lying islands in the Indian Ocean, it faces three existential threats, all of which are caused by climate change. Rising sea levels threaten to submerge some of the islands, and some scientists predict that this disaster will occur within the next decade. Another threat is looming for the under-pressure islands. Seasonal weather patterns have been significantly disrupted.

Monsoons and tropical storms are becoming more common and violent. They are exaggerating natural coastal erosion and hastening its occurrence. It means that the islands are literally contracting. The dramatic loss of atoll coral is, however, one of the most pressing emergencies.

Rising sea temperatures are killing coral reefs, which is having a devastating effect on life on land and at sea. The reefs are critical to the island’s survival because they are not only an important part of the overall marine ecosystem, but they also protect the coastline.

“It is quite serious. The reefs aren’t recovering as fast as we would like. A large proportion of the reefs are still dead, or they are recovering too slowly, and this is bad for a nation like the Maldives. The coral reef is the basis of life here. We are a country in the middle of the Indian Ocean and there are no other sources of nutrients around the reef, it’s the home for nearly all of our marine life. Sea temperatures related to climate change are definitely the main cause of such destruction.”

Azim Musthag – marine scientist at the Small Island Research Group based in the Maldives’ capital – Male.

For years, warnings about the Maldives’ vulnerability to climate change have been issued.

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