Managing garbage to save the planet

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The plight of refugees is in the news all the time, mostly as a result of war. But recently, I saw a post in Dot Earth, a New York Times blog, about a documentary called Climate Refugees. It suggests that climate change will lead to massive refugee problems, mainly as a result of flooding. Disasters in New Orleans, Bangladesh and Myanmar offer a glimpse of what might come.

The Maldives, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, is at special risk: most of it is only 1 - 1.5 meters above sea level. If global warming leads to rising sea levels, the country could be submerged. Consequently, the government aims to make the country carbon-neutral by 2020.

I don’t think that a carbon-neutral Maldives will stop global warming, but it’s done a good job demonstrating steps that governments and the private sector can take to reduce carbon output. Recently, it set up a public-private partnership to manage waste on the island of Thilafushi, where most of the country’s garbage was dumped and burned off. When the project is completed, this toxic island will have a state-of-the-art waste management system that includes a 2.7MW power plant that will replace existing diesel plants, saving 12,000 tons of carbon emissions annually.

There’s a lot of room for the private sector and governments to tackle climate change. You can read more in the latest issue of Handshake, IFC’s quarterly journal on PPPs.




David Lawrence

International Development Consultant

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