Beijing, China—As an island state, the Maldives does not have a lot of land to waste. Eighty percent of its total land area is distributed among 1,200 coral islands, of which only 188 are inhabited, many are remote, and nearly all are physically vulnerable to rising sea levels.
The Maldives created the artificial island of Thilafushi some 30 years ago to serve as a dumpsite for the waste generated in the Greater Malé capital region. As the Maldives’ economy is based mainly on tourism and fisheries, both of which rely heavily on a pristine environment, a more sustainable solution to the garbage problem had to be found.
In response, the Government of Maldives, with support from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and other multilateral development banks, is putting up a sustainable regional solid waste treatment system in the Greater Malé region. It has the goal of ensuring the safe disposal or recycling of waste, reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of the island state and generating electricity from waste-to-energy. The facility is intended to handle 500 tons of waste per day and convert it to electricity, which is eventually expected to generate eight megawatts (MW) of surplus electricity by the end of 2024.
AIIB has approved a USD40-million loan for the Greater Malé Waste-to-Energy Project, which is being cofinanced by the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Fund for the Joint Crediting Mechanism.
“The Greater Malé Waste-to-Energy project will benefit the people in the Greater Malé region, as well as have a wider global impact by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change. AIIB welcomes the opportunity to partner with the Government of Maldives and other partners to create a more sustainable waste management system,” said AIIB Vice President, Investment Operations, D.J. Pandian.
This is the second AIIB loan to the Maldives, the first being a loan under AIIB’s COVID-19 Crisis Recovery Facility to help the country with its Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness Project against COVID-19.
Because the country is at great risk of rising sea levels due to climate change, as well as natural disasters like tsunamis and extreme climate events, the project design incorporates disaster- and climate-resilient features such as raised floor elevations, and flood-proof mechanical and electrical equipment. The cost estimates and implementation schedule also accommodate possible delays or cost increases due to the impact of COVID-19 on supply chains.
The project includes a capacity building component to help government officials manage the project and conduct environmental monitoring. In addition, targeted public awareness campaigns in the main population centers of Malé, Hulhumale and Villimale will be provided to raise awareness of the new waste collection and waste management system and 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) behaviors to support a clean environment.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a multilateral development bank with a mission to improve social and economic outcomes in Asia. Headquartered in Beijing, we began operations in January 2016 and have now grown to 103 approved members worldwide. By investing in sustainable infrastructure and other productive sectors in Asia and beyond, we will better connect people, services and markets that over time will impact the lives of billions and build a better future.