Projet Erasmus CHILDRN

Two professors from the National University of Maldives visited the Hugo Observatory



Within the framework of an Erasmus project called CHILDRN, with the support of the European Commission,  the Hugo Observatory of the Department of Geography hosted two professors from the National University of Maldives last November. An official delegation of 4 persons joined them for the last week

The objective of this Erasmus project, which will last until the beginning of 2024, is to contribute to the improvement of higher education in the Maldives and to increase the collaborations between our 2 universities. Two other European universities are partners: the University of Paris and the University of Bratislava.

Mariyam Nadhira is a graduate in Information Technology. She has developed the following programs in the Bachelor of Information Technology at MNU: ICT for Development / Data and Process Modeling / Database Management System / Multimedia Technology / Multimedia Technology and Applications.   She has also collaborated in the project "AMED - Advancing higher education in Maldives through e-learning development".

Ahmed Aslam Waheed is a lecturer in the Department of Environment and Natural Sciences for the Bachelor of Environmental Management and Bachelor of Science students.

Both believe that the level of awareness of the climate situation is still very low among the Maldivian population. The department they are part of has distributed multimedia courses online, videos, flyers and posters, but this only reaches a limited part of the population, which is already the most informed.

Environmental risk management is the focus of a new bachelor's degree project that will start in February 2023 at the National University of Maldives. Climate change is indeed likely to have a very significant impact on the Maldives. This archipelago is composed of 1,192 islands, of which about 200 are inhabited. It is a very popular destination for travelers: tourism represents 40% of the GDP. But for these islands, the future is not rosy. 80% of the land is located less than one meter above sea level. It is one of the most vulnerable areas in the world to rising sea levels. Erosion is already significant, and the only source of sand production is coral. These are sensitive to global warming and pollution. Finally, the archipelago is experiencing climatic disasters (tsunamis, torrential rains) which are increasing in frequency. 

The two professors hope that the new bachelor's degree in environmental risk management will attract many students, as many challenges will face the Maldives in the near future:

  • erosion of the islands due to rising sea levels: disappearance of the majority of habitable land foreseeable in the near future
  • ocean acidification causing the death of corals: 80% are already damaged
  • pollution due to the non-management of waste
  • loss of profitability of economic activities (tourism and fishing)
  • growing gap between the resorts (islands devoted to tourists) and the islands occupied by the indigenous population (500,000 inhabitants).

During the next two semesters, an Erasmus exchange will be organized, in which 5 master students from the University of Liege will be able to participate in order to carry out a research stay of maximum 2 months in the Maldives.  More information on this exchange can be obtained from Pierre Ozer. In addition, an international research seminar will be held on site from February 27 to March 1, 2023.

Some figures :

  • The 0,43 km2 garbage island, Tilafushi, stores 330 tons of waste per day1, including approximately 200 tons of household waste, and 100 tons of industrial waste2. Each tourist visiting the archipelago - one million annually - produces 7.2 kg of garbage per day, compared to 2.8 kg for a Maldivian3) ; consequently the island grows by 1 m2 per day4. The consequence of this waste storage activity without sorting or treatmentis an extraordinary level of pollution, both of the soil and of the water and especially of the air, as some of the waste is constantly on fire, releasing a thick plume of smoke over the island, which sometimes reaches the nearby capital Malé.
  • According to the latest IPCC report, 30% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions have been absorbed by the oceans, causing their acidification. Currently, the pH* of the water has dropped from 8.2 to 8.1 since the beginning of the industrial era, which corresponds to a 30% change in ocean acidity. This acidification affects many marine organisms (especially those using calcium carbonate, such as shellfish), marine ecosystems and fishing activities . More informations

To know more

CHILDRN, an interdisciplinary project to strengthen Maldivian climate leadership

CHILDRN - Climate Change Diplomacy, Leadership and Resilience

 

Photo : Reception of the official delegation at the Rectorat – @ULiège - M. Houet

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