On 18th June, 2019, the African Island country of Mauritius overshoot its naturally sustainable population and development mark. In 2021 World Risk Report, Mauritius was ranked 51st most vulnerable country which is exposed to natural hazards. In 2022, Mauritius was ravaged by three large cyclones named Batsirai, Emrati and Ana.
Like many small island nations, Mauritius faces a number of climate-related challenges due to its location and geography. Some of the key climate challenges faced by Mauritius include sea level rise, extreme weather events, water scarcity, biodiversity loss and coral reef degradation.
The rising sea levels pose a major threat to low-lying areas in Mauritius, putting infrastructure, homes, and communities at risk. In recent years, cyclones, heavy rainfall, and droughts are becoming more frequent and causing damage to crops, infrastructure, and homes. Also, the changing rainfall patterns and rising sea levels are affecting the island’s water resources, putting pressure on its water supply and leading to water scarcity. The unique flora and fauna of Mauritius is under threat from climate change, as well as other factors such as deforestation, urbanization, and pollution. Less than 5% of waste is recycled yearly. The pristine coral reefs around Mauritius which attracts tourists are also at risk from bleaching and other impacts of climate change, which can negatively impact the island’s tourism industry and coastal communities. Also, Mauritius has lost almost 90% of wetlands in its northern islands. To address these challenges, Mauritius has taken a number of steps such as investing in renewable energy, promoting sustainable tourism, and implementing measures to protect its biodiversity. In 2020, the government of Mauritius launched a ‘Master plan for the Environment in Mauritius for the next decade.’ The document provides an overview of the overarching master plan for the environment in Mauritius, which outlines the government’s vision and strategy for protecting and managing the country’s environment. The plan aims to address the challenges facing the country, including climate change, ecological degradation, and social inequality, and to promote sustainable development.
Key long-term objectives in the mission include circular economy to eliminate landfills, eliminate problematic single use plastics by 2030, adoption of eco-friendly behaviour in society, achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, etc. Notably, the country has also pledged to become carbon neutral by 2070 and has set a goal to derive 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. For the geographically isolated country, the natural ecosystems serve as important heritage. The document highlights the need for balanced development as its ultimate aim and stresses that ultimately Mauritius will aim to “achieve a cleaner, greener, environmentally sustainable, climate change resilient, low emission and circular economy, where environmental conservation, protection and management are enshrined in the culture of citizens and all organisations.”
Recently, an UNEP report highlighted the importance of the initiative to prevent a triple crisis on planet. The “triple planetary crisis” refers to the interconnected nature of three critical global challenges facing humanity: the climate crisis, the ecological crisis, and the social crisis. It is a complex and interrelated set of challenges that require a comprehensive and integrated approach to address. It highlights the need for a systemic change in the way society operates and for collective action to address these pressing global issues.
The Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Kavydass Ramano also mentioned that his country is investing US$15 million for construction of drains and coastal rehabilitation in sites of high land degradation. Speaking about finances, he added that “the Government’s updated NDC has taken the firm commitment of providing an unconditional support of 35 per cent share of the total financial needs, amounting to US$2.3 billion. The remaining 65 per cent share will depend on crucially needed support from international sources.”
However, the minister also expressed disappointment at the pace of funding of green policies in SID states and hoped that the “snail’s pace” of international support accelerates to meet their ambitions.
However, it is a positive signal that countries with little carbon footprint are overtly supporting green development planning in national targets. Mauritius’ Climate-friendly development plan will help preserving the country’s unique environment and addressing the environmental challenges facing Mauritius. The government continues to work on developing new strategies and policies to protect the environment and ensure sustainable development for the country.
Photo Credit : https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mauritius_Port-Louis_CaudanWaterfront.JPG
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