Monday, October 12, 2009 - 11:02

A pioneering collaboration between the Eden Project and the government of the Maldives on climate change has been announced.

Eden chief executive Tim Smit, President of the Republic of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed and the country’s Minister of Housing, Transport and Environment Mohamed Aslam have been in discussions for several months over how the island nation, a country threatened by rising sea levels, can put together a plan of cultural and physical resilience in the face of climate change.

Commenting on the new partnership, Tim Smit said: "To be working with a government with a commitment to seriously tackling the need to develop a low carbon economy is an opportunity that is symbolically powerful and hugely important in setting an example to the rest of the world where words too often substitute for action. It is a humbling challenge and we are looking forward to it."

The Maldives will show the world that social development and economic growth are compatible with the transformation to low carbon infrastructure. Eden will bring its expertise in engaging communities into the complex process.

Mr Nasheed spoke of the new partnership when he addressed the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester in advance of the Copenhagen climate change conference in December.

He said: “Today I can proudly stand in front of you as the first democratically-elected president of the Maldives.

“The challenges confronting us are great. I need not rehearse here the statistics relating to climate change. I do simply tell you if the process continues unchecked, my grandchildren will find their island home has disappeared completely under the sea.

“The actions we are taking will provide a template, a survival kit for other nations across the world. For us, the success or failure of the Copenhagen summit might be a matter of life or death.

“But I see here an opportunity as well as a threat. For me, targets are not just for the reduction of consumption but also for harnessing human ingenuity in finding alternative energy.

Announcing the Eden partnership, Mr Nasheed said: “Many of you will have visited the Eden Project in Cornwall. We have initiated a twinning arrangement with them where we are able to learn more about the best ways to promote sustainable development all over the planet.

“Ultimately, my aim is to foster in the Maldives the world's first carbon neutral economy where any emissions are fully offset. When the price of failure is the loss of a nation, we have the strongest incentive to succeed.”