The Republic of Maldives is Sinking
The Maldives is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, comprised of 1,200 coral islands in 26 atolls over a 35,000 sq. mi area. The highest point in the country is only two feet above sea level, and 80% of the country’s land is less than three feet below sea level.  A modest increase in sea levels could submerge the entire country. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report noting that sea levels could rise as much as 100 centimeters by the year 2100, and that a 90 centimeter rise would cover 85% of Malè, the capital city/island of the Maldives. 
While it is possible for some coral islands to naturally reform and adjust to increases in sea level, the Maldivian capital city of Malè is not one of them due to a number of rigid systems built up over the years to protect against storms.  Malè represents about a third of the entire population of the country. 
There are a number of other issues relating to sea level rise that threaten the long-term survival of the country :
- Tourism represents about a third of the country’s GDP, and 45% of tourism resorts experienced severe beach erosion in 2006.
- The fresh water resources of the Maldives are also threatened by rising sea levels. Many of the country’s islands have pockets of underground fresh water; as sea water levels rise, these pockets are contaminated.
- Finally, the country’s islands are protected by coral reefs. As ocean temperatures rise, the coral reefs themselves can begin to die off. These reefs protect the islands, and are core to the country’s tourism and fishery industries.
What is the country doing about it today?
The Maldivian government released a detailed report (National Adaptation Program of Action) that outlines in detail the major threats to the country resulting from climate change and proposals for how to address these. 
After consulting with a number of international advisors and experts, the report authors came up with twelve priority projects to address the upcoming climate change issues. The top three are as follows :
- Integration of Future Climate Change Scenarios in the Safer Island Strategy to Adapt Sea Level Rise and Extreme Weather Risks Associated with Climate Change
- Coastal Protection of Safer Islands to Reduce the Risk from Sea Induced Flooding and Predicted Sea Level Rise
- Coastal Protection of Male’ International Airport to Reduce the Risk from Sea Induced Flooding and Predicted Sea Level Rise
The Maldives is also quite involved with international climate forums and the global dialog on the subject. The country as also committed to becoming the first carbon neutral country by 2020 (despite contributing a negligible amount of carbon emissions today). 
What other steps could the current government take?
The current policy of investing in infrastructure to keep the island nation underwater don’t capture a plan announced by former president Mohamed Nasheed. Nasheed advocated for assembling a fund that would be used to buy land on other countries unaffected by rising sea levels for displaced Maldivians to relocate. 
The former president established a sovereign wealth fund, funded primarily by tourism revenue, that would be used to fund relocation of the country’s residents that would be displaced by rising sea levels. In theory, it would eventually be able to relocate the entire population of the country.  Nasheed expressed interest in a number of countries – Sri Lanka and India due to cultural similarities, and Australia due to the vast amount of open space on the continent. 
Nasheed fell from power when he resigned in the aftermath of a political crisis in 2012, and his successor dropped the relocation plan. The current head of state, president Abdulla Yameen, is doubling down on the agenda outlined above, and working to reclaim sunken islands.  I believe that this is a short-term solution to a long-term issue, and that the relocation fund should continue to be built up.
How can larger countries that have more influence on international climate change issues help support low lying island nations like the Maldives? Will these small islands be able to survive at the current pace without their help?
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|||The World Bank, “Climate Change in the Maldives,” April 2010. [Online]. Available: http://go.worldbank.org/M3XBP80UG0.|
|||IPCC, “Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability,” Cambridge University Press, 2001.|
|||K. Warne, “Will Pacific Island Nations Disappear as Seas Rise? Maybe Not,” National Geographic, 15 February 2015.|
|||Maldives National Bureau of Statistics, “Table: Total Maldivian Population by Sex and Locality (Atolls), 2014,” [Online]. Available: http://statisticsmaldives.gov.mv/nbs/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/PP9.xls.|
|||Republic of Maldives, “National Adaptation Program of Action,” Ministry of Environment, Energy, and Water, 2007.|
|||A. Doyle, “Maldives takes step to “carbon neutrality” by 2020,” Reuters, 25 November 2010.|
|||B. Doherty, “Climate change castaways consider move to Australia,” The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 January 2012.|
|||R. Ramesh, “Paradise almost lost: Maldives seek to buy a new homeland,” The Guardian, 9 November 2008.|
|||N. J. Dauenhauer, “On front line of climate change as Maldives fights rising seas,” New Scientist, 20 March 2017.|