Supporting government action

The Maldives has a huge plastic waste problem. Open burning is common, and around 330 tonnes of waste are sent to the island of Thilafushi every day – much of which flows into the ocean.

Common Seas was invited by the Maldivian Government to build the case for a presidential commitment to phase out single-use plastics. We provide ongoing support to fulfil this commitment.

This project demonstrates it is essential to convene government, civil society and community groups to develop and deliver an effective plan to tackle plastic waste.

In 2019, we ran a three-day workshop in the Maldives, bringing together island councils, government representatives, the World Bank, waste engineers, businesses, local groups. The event was hosted by Soneva – a luxury eco-resort – and led to a cross-sector commitment to deliver ambitious, pragmatic and timely action on plastics.

The President’s Office then invited us to run Plastic Drawdown to evaluate the country’s plastic footprint and provide evidence for a portfolio of policies to phase out plastic waste. Our analysis led to a focus on plastic bottles, tourist waste and leakage from waste transport vessels.

The evidence and plan we shared encouraged the Government to commit to a radical phase-out of problem plastics. As a result, activities to date have included:

  • An agreement to gather data to understand plastic waste and deliver a plan to reduce it, including setting targets.
  • The FenVeshi campaign, which is making tap water more attractive and taking refill systems to scale.
  • Ending open burning on Maalhos, celebrated with a famous cricketer playing a match on the newly reclaimed beach.
  • Delivering a Deposit Return Scheme feasibility assessment.
  • Banning and phase out of many single-use plastics, starting with bags.

Using our experience on the Maldives, we have replicated this approach with three other countries and now have a growing specialism working with Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

The success of this project was built on forming strong, early partnerships with key players in the Maldives – including representatives from government, businesses and the community.

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