Paolo GALLI, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
Stefano MALATESTA, University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy
The Maldives are among the most emblematic marine and coastal areas of the world with regard to the current global environmental biodiversity threats due to climate change. The long chain of natural coral atolls of the Republic of the Maldives, together with other Small Island Developing States, is on the front line of climate change and proves particularly vulnerable to the impacts of coastal flooding, sea temperature increase, ocean acidity and sea-level rise.
This communication aims to investigate marine biodiversity by using an innovative ‘vertical’ approach, i.e. by considering the low-lying Maldivian islands and the surrounding natural elements – namely the marine waters and the atmosphere – as a single unit of the same ecosystem. This consideration holds true also from a legal point of view, as under the international law of the sea the ocean is understood to cover three elements: the seabed and the subsoil, the adjacent water column and the atmosphere above the sea. Accordingly, each of the above-mentioned spaces has to be included in any consideration aiming at pursuing the ecosystem approach to environmental preservation and protection of marine and coastal areas. A ‘vertical’ approach is thus needed, as the rise of the ocean level has somehow changed our original perspective. The ‘human’ element of the oceans, i.e. the population of islanders profoundly impacted by these increasing pressures, will play a crucial role in securing resilience and, overall, in providing responses to the most serious threats of biodiversity. In this frame, biodiversity will be considered also as a human value and we will explore local cultures dealing with biodiversity in their diversity (gender, age, traditions). Particular attention will be paid to material and immaterial heritage (in architecture, use of space, education, events, practices) and to the protection of the skills and knowledge of local communities.
Keywords: Biodiversity|Conservation|Sustainability|Climate Change|Heritage