CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION AND EDUCATION
2. Climate change education and training in the country
3. Climate change communication in the country
i. Climate change context
Maldives, an archipelago situated in the Indian Ocean, is one of the world’s lowest-lying and most vulnerable countries to climate change, particularly from sea-level rise, coastal storm surges, and associated flooding. According to the World Bank, Maldives is the sixth smallest country in land area (approx. 298 km2), one of the most geographically dispersed sovereign states, and one of the flattest countries in the world, with over 80% of its land area less than 1 m above mean sea level. The natural ecosystems of Maldives, most notably its coral reefs, are at great risk from climate change.
Located just above the equator, Maldives experiences a warm and humid climate throughout the year. According to the World Bank, It had a population of about 0.5 million people. The country’s economy depends on tourism, which contributes one-third of its gross domestic product. Maldives has the highest gross domestic product per capita of the South Asian countries.
According to the Global Carbon Atlas, Maldives is a medium-emitting country, with annual emissions of 3.3 t CO2 per person in 2020. Maldives consists of 26 low-lying coral atolls and 1192 tropical islands. Only 358 are used for economic activities and have human settlements, others are mostly used as island resorts exclusively for high-end tourism purposes or inhabited. As per Maldives 1st Biennial Update Report (2020), tourism is the highest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (40%) mainly due to Maldives’ ‘one island–one resort’ concept (meaning that one hotel occupies an entire island). This results in high energy consumption from transportation activities. The second-highest emissions are from residential energy use (38%), followed by general transport (18%).
Maldives is a Non-Annex I (non-industrialized) country categorized as a Small Island Developing State under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), ratified in 1992. Maldives ratified the Kyoto Protocol in December 1998, signed and ratified the Paris Agreement in April 2016, and accepted the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto protocol in 2015.
A Climate Emergency Act (2021) was ratified after the Maldives Parliament unanimously passed a resolution to declare a climate emergency.
ii. Relevant government agencies
The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology (previously the Ministry of Environment and Energy) works with a mandate for a Cleaner, Greener, and Safer Maldives and implements government policies and programs on clean water, energy, and a healthy environment. The Ministry is responsible for advocating for the rights of small island states in the fight against climate change, for mobilizing finance, and for coordinating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the government. The Ministry is also mandated to advocate on behalf of Maldives and other small island developing states on the effects of climate change at regional and international forums.
Maldives has not yet identified a focal point for the UNFCCC’s Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) but the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology is the national focal point for the UNFCCC and climate change issues. It is also the National Designated Authority for the Green Climate Fund.
The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology has a dedicated Department on Climate Change, which formulates policies and standards to address climate-related challenges per the country’s legislative framework. The Department is also responsible for international practices and conventions. Within the Department, the Adaptation and Mitigation Section has units for Monitoring and Evaluation, Greenhouse Gas Reporting, and Clean Development Mechanism. The Policy and Programs Section has units for Sustainable Development Instruments, Communication and Programs, and Policy and Planning.
The Energy Department of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Technology formulates policies for the energy sector, in line with the Maldives’ legislative framework. The Energy Technology Development Section aims to limit energy misuse and waste. It advises the government and legal sectors on efficient energy use, low-carbon development strategies, and renewable energy technologies.
The Environment Department, established in 1984, has a main duty to preserve Maldives’ unique natural habitat. The Department advises the government on laws and regulations, adopts policies, and implements environment-related strategies. Biodiversity is handled by the Environmental Conservation and Assessment Unit of the Department.
The Environmental Protection Agency is affiliated with the Ministry of Environment. It is mainly responsible for protection, conservation, and management of the environment and biodiversity, following the provisions of the Environment Law (1998). The Agency also handles waste management and pollution prevention activities across the country.
The Ministry of Tourism promotes sustainable tourism development. The Ministry works to balance the economic, environmental, and socio-cultural benefits of tourism for residents while minimizing negative impacts of the tourism industry that is the foundation of Maldives’ economy. The Ministry carries out long-term planning, development, monitoring, and regulatory functions to ensure a sustainable tourism industry for the benefit of the Maldivian economy while minimizing possible negative climate impacts.
Other institutions are involved in issues related to the environment, as indicated in the 2nd National Communication (2016). A full list of key stakeholders important for climate change climate policy and finance implementation are listed in the National Strategic Framework to Mobilize International Climate Finance to Address Climate Change in Maldives 2020–2024, including the Ministry of Finance; Ministry of National Planning, Housing, and Infrastructure; Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Higher Education; Ministry of Arts, Culture and Heritage; Ministry of Tourism; Ministry of Economic Development; Ministry of Fisheries, Marine Resources and Agriculture; Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment; the National Disaster Management Authority; People’s Majlis; local governments; citizens, communities and consumers; private sector companies; academia; civil society groups and non-governmental organizations; and international development partners, including international, multilateral, and bilateral partners.
Education and communication
The Ministry of Education is the key agency responsible for education and directs the formulation and implementation of education policies. The Ministry is also responsible for providing funding to education institutions and controls the development and administration of all government and government-aided institutions across the country. At the time of this review, the website of the Ministry did not include climate change-related activities.
The National Institute of Education works under the Ministry of Education to facilitate life-long learning through collaborative research and innovation. The Institute has several responsibilities, including creating resources for teaching, designing teaching coursework, developing curricula to support technical education, and establishing national training and education programs to sustain indigenous arts, crafts, and cultural heritage. The Institute hosts departments such as the Teacher Development Department, Curriculum Development Department, and Early Childhood and Development Department. It leads reforms of national curricula.
The Ministry of Higher Education is responsible for overseeing the implementation of policies for higher education institutions in Maldives. The Ministry facilitates quality-assured higher education and training for the citizens of Maldives, both at the local and international levels.
The Teacher Resource Centres, spread across 200 small islands of Maldives, are run by the government in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Maldives for local training of teachers to ensure quality education.
iii. Relevant laws, policies, and plans
The first climate change and related environmental regulations—Mosquito Control Regulations (2007)—were established to control vector-borne diseases in Maldives, such as increased seasonal outbreaks of dengue and other vector-borne diseases (2nd National Communication, 2016). The Regulations envisage reducing mosquito breeding at household and commercial sites, including tourist islands and social places.
Maldives ratified its Climate Emergency Act in 2021. The Act introduces a legal structure and guidelines to address the negative impacts of climate change through reporting, sustainable use of natural resources, and investments in renewable energy. The Act mandates the establishment of a Climate Change Directorate and the appointment of a Special Envoy for Climate Change to represent and lead Maldives’ interests in global climate emergency dialogues.
Critical for Maldives is the National Adaptation Program of Action (2007) for a complete and coherent climate change adaptation framework to enhance resilience and ensure sustainability in the face of climate hazards. Awareness, communication, and information form the core adaptation strategies charted out as part of the Program. The highest priority strategies are capacity building for coastal protection, coastal zone management, and flood control.
The Strategic National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (2010–2020) aims to build the resilience of Maldives and its island communities to disasters through disaster risk reduction. Knowledge management (which includes education), awareness raising, and access to information are identified as significant pillars in building community resilience.
The 3rd National Environment Action Plan (2009–2013) was developed to promote sustainable development and strengthen the quality of environmental education and outreach in public awareness programs on environmental issues, including climate change and its impacts.
Maldives has a National Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction Framework (2014), developed to reduce vulnerabilities and strengthen people’s capacity to cope with risks, including risks induced by climate change. The Framework identifies awareness, education, and training as essential elements for community-based disaster risk reduction.
The Maldives Climate Change Policy Framework (2015) focuses on protecting the country from adverse impacts of climate change and prioritizes capacity building as a building block in formulating and implementing the Framework. Capacity building is also a strategic goal of the Framework. Framework objectives include integrating climate change into education and training, mobilizing public interest and engagement on climate change, improving understanding and use of climate change information, and including decision makers in policy and planning. Among the Framework’s guiding principles are climate leadership (to show strong political commitment) and mainstreaming climate change and climate resiliency.
The national Strategic Action Plan (2019–2023) of Maldives is another central policy framework and planning document that guides nationwide development and is the main implementation and monitoring tool to track progress of government policies and development priorities. The Plan aims to achieving climate resilience and sustainability transformation by increasing the capacity of vulnerable groups, encouraging youth participation in climate advocacy, and establishing an effective climate communication mechanism at the national level.
In 2020, the Ministry of Environment issued the National Strategic Framework to Mobilize International Climate Finance to Address Climate Change in Maldives 2020–2024. The Framework identifies laws and policies that are important for climate change action in Maldives: Maldives Energy Policy and Strategy (2016), the National Action Plan on Air Pollutants (2019), the National Water and Sewerage Policy (2017), the Environmental Protection and Preservation Act (4/1993) and its Amendments (12/2014), the Gender Equality Act (2016), Maldives Tourism Act (2/1999), the Fifth Tourism Master Plan (2013), Maldives Fisheries Act (14/2019), and the Coastal Protection Guidelines (2011).
Education and communication
Maldives does not have a constitutional mandate for climate change education. However, the Higher Education Act, ratified in 2021, sets the legal framework of standards and policies to provide and develop higher education and training.
Maldives’ National Climate Change Research Strategy (2015) has a vision to integrate climate change risks into resilience planning. The Strategy focuses on domestic education institutions and public agencies and plans to develop an understanding of climate risk communication.
A major reform was implementation of an outcomes-based National Curriculum Framework (2016) that promotes a holistic approach to education structured around key competencies, key learning areas, and specific pedagogical approaches. The Framework, developed by the National Institute of Education, structures the formal education system in Maldives and identifies core shared values of understanding and preserving the Maldivian culture and heritage and promoting ideas of conservation and sustainable development. Climate change is not addressed in the Framework.
To develop an effective communication vision for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Maldives, a national Communication Strategy and Action Plan (2019–2023) (2018) was developed. The Strategy focuses on raising awareness for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among all stakeholders and developing collaborative mechanisms for stakeholder engagement, while strengthening the role of youth and students as SDG ambassadors. The Strategy charts key communication themes for climate change, including resilience building, impact reduction, adaptation measures, capacity building of vulnerable groups, climate science, and climate impacts on human health. The Strategy also suggests incorporating climate change into national policies and programs.
The Education Sector Plan (2019–2023) outlines goals and indicators for holistic and equitable education. The Plan identifies climate change as a crucial structural and environmental vulnerability of Maldives. The Plan stresses skills development to move toward sustainable development amid climate change risks. The Plan was developed based on an Education Sector Analysis (2018).
The government issued an Education Response Plan (2020) to address the adverse consequences of COVID-19 closures on the education sector. Based on pandemic learnings, the Plan recognizes the need for sustainable distance learning solutions and building systemic resilience for preparedness for climate-related emergencies.
iv. Terminology used for Climate Change Education and Communication
Maldives documents use terms for climate change communication and education across policies and plans, such as ‘sustainable development,’ ‘sustainable practices,’ ‘capacity building,’ and ‘public awareness.’ For instance, Maldives 2nd National Communication (2016) uses ‘education,’ ‘training,’ and ‘public awareness’ for the country’s climate change communication and education interventions. The National Communication also notes the importance of mainstreaming climate change into the Sustainable Development Goals.
The term ‘sustainable development’ is used by education sector resources. The National Curriculum Framework (2016) defined it as
Sustainable development is maintaining a balance between human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present but also for future generations. (p. 77)
The Framework introduces a key competency of ‘using sustainable practices’ as
A key competency aims to raise awareness to engage in sustainable practices and learn conservation for the future. It encourages students to treat with respect and manage their resources wisely. The knowledge, skills and attitudes they develop through this key competency help students to satisfy their basic needs and have a quality life without jeopardising the life of future generations. (p. 19)
Maldives Climate Change Policy Framework (2014) encapsulates eight principles to address climate change, including ‘mainstreaming climate change’ and ‘climate resiliency,’ defined respectively as
Focus on direct implementation (not just policies and plans); and mainstream climate change considerations into core economic and social development goals and the development and implementation of sectoral plans and programs. (p. 9)
Recognize the inherent complexity of the climate change challenge, and the need for multifocal and cross-sectorial responses, designed and implemented in a coherent and coordinated way. Recognize that the resilience of the natural environment is key to coping with climate change, thus adaptation measures that enhance, maintain, and where necessary, restore, the integrity of ecological processes are essential for reducing the vulnerability of both natural and physical systems. (p. 9)
v. Budget for climate change education and communication
According to the World Bank Maldives spent 4.1% of its gross domestic product on education. The 2022 Budget allocates US$ 100,681,406.4 to environmental protection and US$ 264,075,705.3 to education. How much of this budget is allocated to climate change communication and education is not mentioned.
Maldives’ 1st Biennial Update Report (2020) reports an annual climate finance contribution of 2.4% of gross domestic product (US$ 4.6 billion in 2017). Direct national budget allocations were 0.8% of Maldives’ gross domestic product in 2017. The budget for climate change education and communication is not explicitly mentioned, but 30% of funds were allocated to climate adaptation. The Report highlights other financial instruments and international donors like the World Bank, and the UN Environment Programme, which have made significant investments in Maldives’ fight against climate change. For example, the Government of Italy invested USD$4.7 million to improve climate data collection, management, forecasting, and early warning systems to achieve national goals and capacity building for strengthening environmental education and training. Under the Least Developed Countries Fund, established under the UNFCCC and managed by the Global Environment Facility, US$ 9.6 million will build Maldives’ capacity to integrate risk management planning into policy planning and investment decisions.
The Green Climate Fund has supported two climate adaptation projects in Maldives worth US$ 48.7 million, in 2015 and 2021. The projects focus on building resilience and supporting vulnerable communities. They include interventions such as widespread knowledge sharing among vulnerable populations and increased capacity of government officials.
The Maldivian government established the Maldives Green Fund in 2018 to manage revenue from a green tax introduced for the tourism sector. However, a January 2022 report shows no investments in climate change education and communication projects. The Green Climate Fund‘s country programme report for Maldives mentions a Green Loan Scheme that provides financial support up to US$ 1.3 million for individuals and businesses to invest in green technology and resources.
According to a news article, in 2022 Maldives will spend 50% of its US$ 2.5 billion national budget on adapting to climate change. However, specific timing and details of spending are not mentioned.
The 2nd National Communication (2016) reports that donors contributed US$ 19 million to address climate change issues and states that adequate finance is required for effective implementation of climate change efforts, especially to build capacity of institutions and individuals. Another funding mechanism, the Maldives Climate Change Trust Fund, used US$ 9.2 million between 2009 and 2015 with support from the World Bank to strengthen knowledge and leadership on climate change issues and build adaptive capacity.
Maldives’ Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) note plans to establish a National Climate Change Trust Fund to attract investments and implement a range of alternative financing mechanisms for increasing resilience and low-emission development programs.
i. Climate change in pre-primary, primary, and secondary education
Given Maldives’ extreme vulnerability to climate change, policies such as the National Adaptation Program of Action (2007) have called for including climate change education for school children through awareness raising and activity-based learning. Maldives Climate Change Policy Framework (2014) highlights among its strategies the need to include climate change education in curricula.
In the National Curriculum Framework (2016), climate change topics appear mainly in Health & Physical Education, Science, and Social Science learning areas. As per the 2022 analytical report by UNICEF Maldives, topics related to climate change are part of key curriculum stages for Grades 1–10, spread across broad conceptual areas of Health of Individual and Community, Earth and Beyond, and People, Place, and Environment. The Report mentions that caring for the environment is part of the Islam and Spirituality learning area. The primary stage (Grades 1–3) curriculum covers background topics such as Earth and its elements and physical features of the environment. The secondary stage curriculum (Grades 4–6) covers human influence on the environment, global warming and causes, and impacts of climate change. The lower secondary curriculum (Grades 7 and 8) includes sectoral impacts of climate change and ecosystems under Science. Climate patterns and their effects are covered in the Geography curriculum, under Social Studies. The Grade 10 curriculum for Social Studies covers Maldives climate patterns, environmental deterioration, and working for sustainability. Details of curricula for Grades 9, 11, and 12 are not available publicly. The Framework emphasizes that all students acquire skills, knowledge, values, attitudes, and other social and behavioral components in schools, and competence in ‘Using Sustainable Practices.’
The National Curriculum Framework (2016) highlights the environment in many places. For instance, “In science, students explore how human activities impact the environment. Students will also identify ways to take care of the environment. In addition, students will be given opportunities to understand issues from both developmental as well as environmental perspectives and will be encouraged to develop stewardship toward the environment.” (p. 40) The Framework notes shared values of “Preserving diversity: appreciate the richness of our native habitat and their fragility; recognize ways of balancing how to enjoy them today and conserve them for the future” (p. 12). A description of the types of climate change-related keywords discussed in the curricula may be found in the MECCE Project Monitoring section of this profile.
The National Disaster Management Authority conducts disaster awareness programs in schools to promote and enable disaster risk reduction through education, preparing schools for climate-induced extreme events and risks. Programs include disaster awareness sessions and mock drills for students, to help school administrators, staff, teachers, and students better prepare for emergencies and disasters and protect themselves. Awareness and preparedness programs were conducted for 85 students and teachers in 2015 and 520 students from Grades 5 to 10 in 2016.
The Communication Strategy and Action Plan (2019–2023) (2018) proposes reaching students through curriculum changes, competitions, fairs, informative sessions, and story-telling to increase resilience and adaptive capacity, early warning systems, and solutions to reduce climate risks. The 1st Biennial Update Report (2020) aims to integrate climate change into education curricula as an action under the intergenerational partnership.
Education is not a priority sector in the Nationally Determined Contributions (2020). Moreover, the Strategic Action Plan (2019) does not articulate the link between building climate change resilience and the education sector.
ii. Climate change in teacher training and teaching resources
The Strategic Action Plan (2019) emphasizes teacher training programs and developing teacher competencies. In the context of climate change, the Plan outlines a strategy to educate teachers on the value of biodiversity, environmental conservation, and sustainability. The Plan mentions developing activities, resource kits, and handbooks for teachers on cross-cutting issues such as good waste management practices.
The Ministry of Environment and Energy developed An Environment Club Guideline (2017) for teachers as a primary mechanism for setting up environment clubs in schools, to help students recognize their roles and responsibilities in protecting the environment. The Guideline highlights how climate change issues such as sea-level rise and severe erosion threaten lives in Maldives. The Guideline uses definitions from UNESCO on education for sustainable development and environmental education.
A 2022 report titled Towards a Climate Resilient Schools System in the Maldives by UNICEF Maldives states that “Pre-service and in-service teacher training opportunities focusing on climate change risk reduction and resilience building fall short of what is required.” (p. 7) The report adds that about 600 primary school teachers have been trained since 2007 to build their capacity to teach environmental topics. Training was conducted by Ministry of Education Science curriculum developers, using the School for a Healthy Environment Module on Earth that was developed for teachers to plan activities for school environmental clubs. These clubs are voluntary groups, primarily of students, to promote environmental awareness within schools and communities. The Module adopts a seven-step inquiry model and covers climate-related weather and water security.
The Maldivian government increases the competency of teachers through 20 Teaching Resource Centres that focus on holistic learning outcomes in line with national frameworks. The Centres help provide quality education to a population spread across 200 small islands, but this review found no climate change-specific examples.
The 2021 country office annual report by UNICEF Maldives mentions that capacity of the National Institute of Education was strengthened to develop teacher training resources on climate change and environmental sustainability. Under the Green School initiative, 171 teachers have improved their skills to integrate climate change knowledge and competencies across subjects. This was done as a collaborative effort with Maldives National University.
To build capacity for climate change education, in 2011 UNESCO Maldives conducted a one-week teacher educator course on climate change education for sustainable development. The course is available online and promotes climate change education within the framework of education for sustainable development. It was implemented as a pilot program in Maldives, with no update available for this review.
Live & Learn Environmental Education is a learning network of organizations in the Asia and South Pacific region, including Maldives. Live & Learn has developed communication materials such as flipcharts, resource kits, modules, and toolkits for facilitators and educators to advance sustainable development through education and learning. Materials support facilitators with lesson preparation and develop knowledge and skills to address climate change-related concerns These materials focus on climate change, environmental protection, and water and sanitation issues. For example, the manual on Schools for a Healthy Environment features modules on weather, water, waste, and energy. A resource featuring Best Practice Guidelines for Teaching Environmental Studies in Maldivian Primary Schools was developed for teachers to integrate sustainability and foster inquiry-based learning approaches to local issues induced by climate change such as freshwater depletion and rising sea levels. A Climate Change Teacher’s Guide for Grade 4 to Grade 6 was published to support teachers in applying scientific climate change concepts to everyday life.
The 2nd National Communication (2016) states that climate change was incorporated into the syllabus of the Maldives teacher training program in 2007. No update was available for this review.
iii. Climate change in higher education
The National Climate Change Research Strategy (2015) focuses on international and national academic and research institutions. It aims to strategize knowledge, identify national research priorities, and enable research on climate change through nationally coordinated research and timely information dissemination. Approaches build on factors such as understanding, communicating, living, and managing climate change. The 2nd National Communication (2016) mentions climate science, adaptation, and mitigation projects undertaken under the Strategy, but does not specifically include climate change education and communication.
The Communication Strategy and Action Plan (2019–2023) (2018) strengthens communication by universities on climate risks through curriculum, public lectures, working sessions, research publications, and awareness sessions. Information on progress was unavailable for this review.
The Strategic Action Plan (2019) encourages participation of youth in climate change advocacy. The Plan assists universities and academic institutions with grants to research climate change, disaster risk reduction, and their management while increasing the overall role of academia in research related to disaster risk management and climate change.
The Maldives National University, one of only nine tertiary level education instituoons, has an undergraduate-level degree program in Environmental Management that incorporates climate change, adaptation, and other related aspects into its syllabus and aims to develop national capacity to advance sustainable human development.
iv. Climate change in training and adult learning
Most training interventions in Maldives focus on adaptation to climate change, encompassing public empowerment through knowledge sharing, skills training, and access to partners and networks to ensure sustainability of the local environment. The National Adaptation Program of Action (2007) describes development and dissemination of education materials by local communities. Training programs are conducted on topics such as water resource management and vector-borne diseases to build community resilience. Also organized are education programs for farmers on commercial farming practices and maintaining quality standards required for the tourism market. For adaptation to climate change, a coastal zone management training kit highlights the environmental conditions of Maldives. No updates were available for this review.
The second priority area of the Strategic National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (2010–2020) is developing and strengthening institutions, mechanisms, and capacities, particularly at the community level. Under the Plan, 200 government officials underwent local and international training on basic disaster management concepts. The Plan states that community preparedness plans were developed for 30 islands. To empower the communities, disaster management task forces were instituted with training on basic emergency response under the Community Based Disaster Programme of the National Disaster Management Centre. Under strategic activities of the Plan, priorities for risk-sensitive local development are strengthening organizations to train the local community on disaster risk management to increase community engagement and conducting special skills training for vulnerable families and training of trainers.
The Maldives Climate Change Policy Framework (2014) envisions increasing capacity among key national stakeholders, including public utilities, government authorities, and local private sectors, for sustainable implementation of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions. For this, the Framework strategizes development of climate-related training tools for government officials involved in awareness and training programs across all government institutions. The Framework proposes developing training for energy sector institutions, enhancing their management capabilities, and strengthening capacity building for local councilors to promote awareness of climate change issues. Additionally, the Framework proposes to integrate topics of climate change elements within tertiary and vocational education courses. No update on the training tools and programs was available for this review.
The Communication Strategy and Action Plan (2019–2023) (2018) refers to training programs for social mobilizers, lead agencies on Sustainable Development Goals, youth, farmers, fisherfolk, women’s groups, residents, government authorities, etc. on integrating sustainable development at all levels of planning and implementation. Awareness-raising activities for government institutions such as the Maldives Meteorological Service and the National Disaster Management Centre focus on monitoring meteorological situations, climate change impacts for disaster risk reduction, and transmission of climate information.
The World Bank funded the Climate Change Adpatation Project (2019) to build awareness and strengthen local government capacity, through higher education in environmental management, climate change adaptation, and mitigation to address climate change and island development.
The Strategic Action Plan (2019) outlines training programs for officials of climate-dependent sectors, practitioners, school children, marginalized groups, and communities working in vulnerable sectors on climate change problems, environmental management, and cross-cutting elements. Training aims to build capacity to mainstream climate-smart practices and interventions within their livelihoods. The Plan also aims to increase capacity of vulnerable groups to adapt to climate impacts and develop an understanding of hazards to promote local-level preparedness.
Live & Learn Environmental Education develops resources on environment and climate change in Maldives. Live & Learn has prepared Beachwatch, Clean Communities, and Community Water toolkits for community members and educators to build understanding of climate change, related concepts, and effect on livelihoods through participatory community education, activities and hands-on learning. These materials are available in both English and Dhivehi.
According to the 2nd National Communication (2016), farmers in several locations were trained by the Government to evaluate crop varieties, to increase awareness and capacity to deal with local climate change issues.
Maldives’ Biennial Update Report (2020) stresses stakeholders’ training programs on sustainable tourism, coastal risk management, global warming, climate change impacts, mitigation and adaptation, sustainable energy management, and adaptation strategies. However, capacity and skills training were mainly organized to enhance climate expertise at the government level and limited to Department of Climate Change team members from the Ministry of Environment.
The Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) anticipates continuing national capacity building programs for government stakeholders, farmers, and individuals on climate finance, food security, and vector surveillance. Goals are to address the emergence and re-emergence of diseases and implement adequate food safety measures.
i. Climate change and public awareness
With coastal communities’ vulnerability, public awareness of climate change and disaster risk resilience is being focused in Maldives to increase capacity to deal with impacts of climate change.
Recognizing that the public’s lack of knowledge, education, and awareness on the science and impacts of climate change are key barriers to implementing adaptation strategies, the National Adaptation Program of Action (2007) designed awareness materials and programs for climate change and its sectoral impacts. An example is raising community awareness on safe rainwater harvesting and storage practices. The Program also engages in developing and disseminating public awareness materials in both Dhivehi and English for multisectoral representatives, on climate-related topics such as resilient building structures. A public lecture on the latest science of climate change was organized with national non-governmental organizations and environmental volunteers. Community awareness-raising sessions are also conducted.
The Strategic National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (2010–2020) describes enhancing awareness among children, youth, media, and the private sector and conducting advocacy campaigns to heighten public awareness of disaster and climate change risks. The Plan mentions designing and implementing instructional and educational campaigns for different audiences, such as government agencies, the media, faith groups, health and other professionals, non-governmental organizations, and community-based organizations. Updated information on these interventions was not available for this review.
The Maldives Climate Change Policy Framework (MCCPF, 2015) integrates national, regional, and international climate change advocacy roles in leading international negotiations and awareness in cross-sectoral areas for the most vulnerable and small island developing states. Strategic Goal 4 of the Maldives Climate Change Policy Framework (MCCPF, 2015) focuses on building capacity on climate change. It aims “to apply a strategic approach to integrating climate change awareness into education and training” (p. 17). The National Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction Framework (2014) emphasizes promoting public awareness, knowledge, and participation in mitigating the risks posed by disasters and increasing community resilience. Communities are encouraged to integrate disaster risk reduction strategies and measures in all-island level sectors. A 2018 report by the Asian Disaster Reduction Center Asia calls Maldives’ Risk Reduction Framework one of the most successful because it helped formulate 56 island disaster management plans and facilitated 41 other plans in partnership with UNICEF and UNDP. Plans brought standard operating procedures to community institutions, including schools, hospitals, and public offices.
Maldives’ Communication Strategy and Action Plan (2019–2023) (2018), under Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG) strategies, focuses on raising awareness for stakeholders, including the government, local councils, private sector, non-government organizations, marginalized groups, and the public. This comprises knowledge sharing on the science of climate change, links with human health, mitigation and adaptation measures, etc. through communication mechanisms such as discussion forums, social media, policy briefs, meetings, and workshops.
The Strategic Action Plan (2019) supports public awareness strategies on biodiversity, biosafety, disaster risk reduction, early warnings and response actions, energy efficiency, conservation, and sustainability. The Plan includes a mechanism for nationwide effective advocacy and outreach communication on climate change issues, using social and mass media to increase awareness and advocacy efforts for climate resilience and low-emissions development. Another critical part of the Plan is developing locally appropriate awareness materials on climate change.
The Building Climate Resilient Safer Islands in Maldives (2018) project, funded by the Green Climate Fund, strengthens disaster risk reduction through awareness of climate change and disaster prevention for local communities. This occurs via Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial television network throughout Maldives to increase national outreach of early warning systems.
The State of the Environment (2016) report for Maldives, developed by the Ministry of Environment and Energy, recognizes that non-governmental organizations and international agencies promote awareness, understanding, and action toward human and environmental sustainability. For instance, the Maldivian Youth Climate Network raises awareness and empowers youth to oppose climate change. The Network has been a leading organization on climate change in Maldives since 2010, but this review found no further information or links available in the public domain.
UNICEF Maldives conducted a survey (n.d.) on climate change effects on school children in Maldives to examine the level of awareness among children and parents on climate change and evaluate preparedness for climate change adaptation. 227 in-dept interviews were conducted as part of the survey. The survey indicated high-level awareness of climate change among children and knowledge about links with global warming, pollution, and waste management. The survey report mentions active involvement of children and parents in activities such as beach cleaning and recycling, and in recognizing the need for community-level initiatives for protecting the natural environment. The survey report recommends organizing awareness campaigns on heat stress, improved preparedness for climate risks, and waste management.
The Maldivian non-governmental organization ENDEVOR imparts awareness on emerging concerns of our physical and social environment. ENDEVOR is working on climate change and health, creating awareness and advocating for changing local behavior to adapt to global change, through seminars, workshops, and research publications. An article published by the Institute of Development Studies (2019), notes that researchers from the University of Manchester and the University of Reading, UK, in partnership with ENDEVOR, raised awareness of environmental change and associated issues in Maldives through an exhibition of 40 photographs taken by island inhabitants that depict the environmental challenges they face in their daily lives. ENDEVOR also engages national decision-makers to increase their awareness of local community-level issues.
Play with solar (2012–2013) is a project financed by Caritas Italiana and the University of Milano-Bicocca. It is the education component of Benefits of Using Renewable Energies for Maldivian Communities and Marine Ecosystems. The initiative consists of video-creation workshops to promote awareness of renewable energies, especially solar, among children in Maldives’ Magoodhoo island community. Purposes are to replace diesel-based energy production in Magoodhoo with clean energy, and to actively engage children and youth as a bridge for the local community to understand the impacts of technological changes. A 2021 article by Di Base, Malatesta, and di Friedberg discusses the project at length and calls it an example of transformative pedagogy aligned with education for sustainable development approaches. The article also mentions the project’s problem-solving approach and how key competencies and pedagogical principles could be operationalized.
The 2nd National Communication (2016) acknowledges the need for awareness raising activities for the private sector and regulatory institutions, to educate on the importance of mitigation choices and collaborative mechanisms to reduce the impacts of climate change. Local councils undertake mandatory education and awareness sessions for the public about risks of climate change-related diseases such as dengue, under Mosquito Control Regulations.
Maldives’ 1st Biennial Update Report (2020) lists government-led public awareness initiatives implemented across the country. For instance, FAHI-ALI (2015) and the It’s cool at 25 awareness campaigns were launched to raise awareness on reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency. The FAHI-ALI campaign for residential properties promotes the use of low-energy-consuming lamps and tubes and lowers energy costs. The It’s cool at 25 campaign spreads the message of keeping cooled buildings at 25 °C for energy conservation. Maldives has one of the highest rates of energy use per capita in South Asia. The Report also notes the Saafu Raajje (Clean Maldives) initiative, awareness, and behavioral change campaign to promote environmentally friendly and sustainable waste management practices on Maldives islands.
Public health advocacy and awareness activities to reduce vector-borne diseases, including those enhanced by climate-induced heat stress, are a priority in the Nationally Determined Contributions (2020). Climate change policies that address the needs of vulnerable groups are also core of the Contributions. The government states that:
Implementation of [Nationally Determined Contributions] and other climate related policies requires the necessary capacity and good governance mechanism. Addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation needs transformational changes. These changes need proper knowledge transfer, human resource capacity building, and increasing public awareness in addition to the financial and technological enhancements. (p. 20)
Maldives’ Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) anticipates increasing public awareness, continuing national capacity building programs, and implementing strategies to protect vulnerable groups from the impacts of climate change.
ii. Climate change and public access to information
The Conceptual Framework of the National Adaptation Program of Action (2007) includes access to climate change resources as an essential pillar for sustainability and adaptation to climate change. Goal 8 of the 3rd National Environment Action Plan (2009–2013) is to improve scientific knowledge and access to information for biodiversity conservation, and a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2016–2025) (2015) has been developed in accordance with the Action Plan.
A capacity building objective of the Maldives Climate Change Policy Framework (MCCPF, 2014) is “to improve the understanding and use of climate change information, including for decision-makers in policy and planning” (p. 17). The Framework puts forth strategies to “establish climate spatial data mechanism to make climate inform decisions and climate sensitive reporting” (p. 20). The Strategic Action Plan (2019) emphasizes open data governance and suggests providing access to information through open-source portals.
The Strategic Action Plan (2019) identifies access to technology, knowledge, and other resources for building resilience of communities as a significant strategic area. The Plan recommends that the government establish a network of climate experts and institutions to translate critical scientific findings to policy makers and decision makers. The Plan discusses strengthening national disaster and climate risk profiling through up-to-date climate data to ensure that future adaptation and disaster scenarios are prioritized and that local development planning processes are well-informed.
Maldives Meteorological Service, the national meteorological agency, provides systematic climate data and early warning through an open-access platform. The platform gives relevant climate information and data support, such as temperature and precipitation, to institutions, decision makers, researchers, and the public.
The Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial television network, under the Building Climate Resilient Safer Islands in Maldives (2018) project by the Green Climate Fund, is facilitating digital migration to increase the nationwide spread of early warning systems. The project also strengthens awareness of climate threats by providing information on natural disasters, including climate change impacts on the most vulnerable islands of Maldives.
The 2nd National Communication (2016) includes initiatives to strengthen and institutionalize data collection systems to improve reporting on greenhouse gases and emission trends. The Maldivian government publishes State of the Environment Reports to provide details of the environmental situation. The publicly available Reports include a chapter on climate change that discusses current and future trends, vulnerabilities, impacts, and government responses.
The Biennial Update Report (2020) supports access to established climate change data collection, handling, and analysis platforms. The Report proposes creating formal arrangements with government sectors for sharing climate-related data and improved access to information sources.
The Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) note that information and data on climatology are scarce in Maldives and envisage promoting research to understand climate trends, expand the meteorological network, and strengthen early warning systems. The Contributions also plan to improve weather forecasting and risk management tools for decision making.
iii. Climate change and public participation
Stakeholders have been consulted to prepare almost all the national policy documents of Maldives. For instance, to prepare the National Adaptation Program of Action (2007), a multidisciplinary National Climate Change Technical Team was established to foster stakeholder engagement. The development of the Program also involved community consultations and awareness raising activities for representatives from seven atolls of Maldives and the capital, Male.
The Maldives Climate Change Policy Framework (2015) encompasses strategies for broad stakeholder participation in the decision making and planning process for climate change issues. The national Strategic Action Plan (2019) proposes developing a mechanism to include the elderly and women in decision making processes. The Plan also aims to “conduct public awareness programs to motivate public participation in the decision-making process of councils” (p. 261). The Plan discusses increasing participation of stakeholders in the climate advocacy process, including non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, development partners, and the private sector.
A 2016 article by Zuhair and Kurian states that the Environmental Impact Assessment process outlined by the Government of Maldives is a policy tool to identify negative environmental and social consequences of economic development. The Assessment, conducted by government-accredited organizations, needs public participation to promote sustainable development, health, and welfare of local communities in decision making.
The Communication Strategy and Action Plan (2019-23) (2018) for the SDGs notes that stakeholders from the government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector were consulted in the preparation phase for SDG implementation in Maldives. Voluntary national review and rapid assessment reports were also developed via stakeholder consultations.
The Biennial Update Report (2020) was developed with cooperation and participation of multiple stakeholders. The Report confirms conducting stakeholder consultations to validate and verify data and aims to promote women’s equal participation in the policy and program planning processes. The report proposes engaging and empowering youth in all aspects of climate change action as part of an outlined intergenerational partnership.
The Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) confirm that the government includes different stakeholders in decision-making processes. The “[Nationally Determined Contributions] is a result of a number of stakeholder consultations and a review of the ongoing development initiatives, projects and programs in various sectors” (p. 5). Stakeholders consulted include both the public and private sectors. The Contributions were then shared with the public for feedback.
i. Country monitoring
The Government of Maldives has conducted nationwide assessments, but the climate change education and communication monitoring system needs to be strengthened across reporting mechanisms. For instance, Maldives presents State of the Environment (2016) reports about environmental concerns. While the report highlighted climate change as a key environmental issue, the state of climate change communication and education is not incorporated.
A national Rapid Integrated Assessment (2017) was conducted to assess Maldives’ readiness to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Assessment shows that SDG-based planning at the local level includes climate change (Goal 13) and is prioritized at the national level within the SDG goal prioritization framework. The Assessment recommends that cross-sectoral links and multistakeholder approaches be developed for climate change and related areas. The Assessment also suggests developing online tools to regularly monitor progress in achieving SDGs in Maldives. This led to development of MaldivInfo by the Ministry of Statistics, a national portal to monitor the SDG indicator framework. The Assessment does not explicitly mention communication and education on climate change and MaldivInfo was not available at the time of this review.
Maldives Voluntary National Report (2017) acknowledges that policies emphasizing climate change resilience are being implemented and that “efforts have been made domestically and internationally to manage climate change, including formulating a national framework policy on climate change” (p. 4). However, the Report does not refer to any climate change communication and education developments as part of SDG 13 reporting.
The Government of Maldives conducted an Education Sector Analysis (2019) to develop the Education Plan for 2019–2023. The Analysis identifies climate change as a major vulnerability and focuses on actions to strengthen the country’s resilience to climate impacts. The Analysis outlines strategies and recommendations to assess the quality of education for teachers and students and proposes mitigation interventions in the energy, transport, and waste sectors. Climate change communication and education-related indicators are not included in the Assessment.
Towards a Climate Resilient Schools System in the Maldives (2022) by UNICEF Maldives offers evidence on how the education systems in Maldives are monitoring, assessing, and responding to the impacts of climate change. The Report mentions that “There are no mechanisms and tools to systematically monitor climate change impacts on the education sector.” (p. 28) According to the Report, national stakeholders believe that climate change could be integrated into the established school-level monitoring framework and tools. However, the Report identifies poor curriculum monitoring and evaluation as a weakness.
A Maldives Education Management Information System (2016) was launched at the national level by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with UNICEF Maldives, the Community Systems Foundation, and OpenEMIS. The goals of the system are electronic data collection, analysis, and reporting on education-related information and creation of a real-time, student-based information system. As per the UNICEF 2021 report, the System was not designed to capture climate change data and had many implementation challenges.
The Strategic Action Plan (2019) is the primary implementation and monitoring tool to track the progress of delivering the government’s policies and development priorities on education, higher education, and 31 other sub sectors with specific goals. The Plan does not include details on monitoring climate change communication and education.
The Strategic National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (2010- 2020) states that the Plan’s effectiveness must be assessed based on indicators to monitor and evaluate, developed by specialized agencies. The Plan gives the National Disaster Management Authority the responsibility for multi stakeholder dialogues and monitoring the national-level disaster risk reduction plan. Monitoring for climate change education is not explicitly mentioned.
Projects outlined in the National Adaptation Program of Action (2007) mention the evaluation and monitoring frameworks to be developed following national standards. However, no specific information on climate change education-related monitoring was found. The Maldives Climate Change Policy Framework (2015) states that a monitoring and review mechanism would be adopted for proper implementation. The Framework would undergo a single mid-term review in 2019. No report was available for this review.
The National Strategic Framework to Mobilize International Climate Finance to Address Climate Change in Maldives 2020–2024 highlights the Maldives Climate Change Policy Framework (2015) statement that “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound (SMART) indicators and related monitoring of policy objectives and strategies should be developed and carried out. In addition, the [Framework] includes that the policy will be reviewed by an independent expert after five years. To inform the review a progress reporting would be implemented in the fourth year after adoption” (p. 30).
‘Education for sustainable development’ is identified as a theme for monitoring and reporting as part of the Education Sector Plan (2019–2023) (2019). No further information is included.
An ongoing Global Environment Facility project titled Capacity Strengthening for Improved Transparency of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Actions in Maldives (2021–2024) has strong monitoring components to track and assess the impacts of mitigation, adaptation, and support for implementing Nationally Determined Contributions (2020). No specific details are included on climate change communication and education.
The Communication Strategy and Action Plan (2019–2023) (2018) for SDGs has set a goal to monitor progress of SDG outreach and awareness through surveys and a mid-term evaluation. The Nationally Determined Contributions (2020) and the 2nd National Communication (2016) do not mention a specific country-level monitoring and reporting mechanism. The Biennial Update Report (2020) recognizes that an efficient monitoring, evaluation, and verification system is required to measure Maldives’ progress in mitigating climate change. The Report recommends increasing capacities to monitor progress and reporting, using a modular approach, and making best use of existing data collection mechanisms. The Report plans to enhance weather and climate monitoring for better risk planning and to develop human resource capacity as part of the national goal of integrated adaptation planning.
ii. MECCE Project Monitoring
The Monitoring and Evaluation of Climate Communication and Education (MECCE) project analyzed Maldives’ National Curriculum Framework (2016) and Education Sector Plan (2019–2023) (2019) for references to terms such as ‘climate change,’ ‘environment,’ ‘sustainability,’ and ‘biodiversity.’
The National Curriculum Framework (2016) does not mention ‘climate change’ or ‘biodiversity,’ but ‘environment’ (in the physical environment context) is mentioned 8 times and ‘sustainability 6 times. The Education Sector Plan (2019–2023) (2019) refers to ‘climate change’ 8 times, ‘environment’ 19 times, ‘sustainability’ 12 times, and ‘biodiversity’ zero times.
This profile was reviewed by Robert Stojanov. Research Fellow, Migration Policy Centre, Italy.