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Fighting corruption and construction in the Maldives

October 22, 2019

The Maldives is considered a dream holiday destination for many. But construction is threatening its fragile coral reefs and azure blue lagoons. Some locals are taking a stand against the building boom.

Two diggers beside a sandy beach. A swimming pool, deckchairs, parasols and palm trees are also in the picture
Image: DW/R. Richter

Maldives: Building boom in marine paradise

Project goal: Shielding climate financing from corruption and thereby increasing confidence in investment in climate protection

Project implementation: Monitoring, targeted research, information and advocacy campaigns to combat corruption. Ensuring that whistleblowers and victims have a voice, while also protecting the most vulnerable people from being hit by climate change and corruption

Project budget: The project is running in the Maldives, Bangladesh, Kenya, Costa Rica, Mexico, Rwanda, Nepal and South Korea, and is financed by the German Environment Ministry (BMU) through its International Climate Initiative (IKI) to the tune of €2,499,392

Project partner: Anti-corruption organization Transparency International and its local chapters 

Project timeframe: August 2015 to December 2018

The Maldives is as an ocean paradise. Made up of 26 ring-shaped atolls with more than 1,000 coral islands, the tropical nation is full of beautiful reefs, white sandy beaches and blue lagoons. Little wonder, it's become a beloved holiday destination, particularly for the wealthy.

As such, tourism is the single largest contributor to the Maldives' economy and in the last 10 years, the number of beds there has nearly doubled. That's put a lot of pressure on the atolls, which has limited space.

The region around the capital Male is already chocked full of development, so investors are building artificial islands and recreating lagoons. In the process, they're damaging reefs and are flying in palm trees from neighboring islands.

Some, like Shaziya Ali, who works for Transparency Maldives, a local chapter of global anti-corruption group Transparency International, are fighting against the rampant construction and trying to get the government to consider locals and the environment when it comes to approving new building projects.

A film by Robert Richter