The Role of Technology in Climate Change Adaptation

Climate change impacts create grave risks for the future of key sectors in the Maldives economy. The livelihoods of the people and the prosperity of the nation are put at risk due to longer-term climate changes and extreme weather events. Early climate change adaptation efforts and re-orienting towards climate resilient economic development mean that the country will be in a situation to cope better with anticipated and observed climate change impacts.

Innovative use of existing technologies and development of new technological solutions are critical components of climate change adaptation and building climate resilience. As developers and early adapters of new technologies, innovation-driven entrepreneurship can help re-orient the economy and foster enthusiasm for climate resilient sustainable development. Entrepreneurs play a key role in driving and shaping the national economy and they are vital for the growth and prosperity of local communities. Businesses that offer new or adapted business-to-business technological solutions can reap the benefits of early business innovation in climate change adaptation efforts. The availability of effective and cost-effective technologies would help businesses switch to climate friendly alternative products and services.

Within the three key sectors of tourism, fisheries and agriculture, modern climate-smart technologies, new market approaches and other novel strategies continue to play a key role in development and expansion of these industries. For instance, technology infusion and diffusion can help make the agribusiness sector more climate resilient in the Maldives. Climate-smart technologies help farmers enhance crop production and productivity, use land more efficiently, implement early responses to imminent weather and work to avoid any negative impacts of agricultural development on local soils, land and seas. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) can be used to good effect, by enabling farmers and others in the agribusiness sector to transfer and share knowledge that can help improve the resilience of their business to climate change impacts.

However technological solutions have not always been able to fully solve the often difficult logistics of scale and distribution, transport and storage of goods, access to markets and market connections in Maldives, as in other Small Island nations. Finding new ways of overcoming these constraints certainly require collaborative efforts amongst a range of stakeholders. Nonetheless, technological developments continue to be the means with the greatest potential for addressing the issues faced by the agriculture sector.

Within the tourism sector, a range of technologies have been used to adapt the natural resources of the country towards the sustainable delivery of tourism and hospitality services. Environmental protection has been a prominent theme within the sector almost since the inception of the industry. Nonetheless, several practices such as dumping waste in the oceans and sanding of beaches have been known to increase vulnerability to climate change impacts  and efforts are underway to change and adapt these practices. There is also scope for improved use of technological innovations in finding more climate friendly transport and travel methods, building climate resilient architecture and encouraging land and marine biodiversity.

Niche markets for sustainable tourism and discerning climate-sensitive groups are being explored, requiring tourism in the Maldives to offer a broader range of tourism concepts and practices that include climate resilience. The expansion of the tourism and hospitality sector to local islands also mean that there are new markets for climate relevant technologies and approaches to be used in the way this industry functions at the local level. For instance, food and laundry services may be organized differently using climate sensitive and greener technologies. Commitment by service providers to the proportionately higher use of local produce and services where possible can assist sustainability. ICT can help with ensuring better supply and delivery of these so that there is a reliable and effective distribution within the market.

The fisheries sector has utilized technologies for the benefit of the sector over the past decades. There is strict regulation of fishing methods for protection of the fish stock and the marine environment, which certainly contributes to the sustainability and resilience of these resources. Nonetheless, there is scope for businesses in the fisheries sector to expand their use of technological innovation for greater climate resilience. From adopting a mix of more climate friendly means of travel and transport to the integration of green technologies and practices in fish storage and processing methods, entrepreneurial innovation in the fisheries sector is much needed.

Technology has a key role in climate change adaptation. We need more entrepreneurs finding ways to make businesses and livelihoods amenable to the adoption of climate resilient technologies and innovation. This will help de-risk and climate-proof investments and businesses for the future.

EDP Maldives takes us one step closer towards realizing this vision.

This project is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this webpage are the sole responsibility of FJS Consulting and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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