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Building climate-ready communities: How the design of Hulhumalé anticipates sustainability and resilience to climate change.

November 10, 2021 : 1:09 pm

On 10th November 2021, the UN’s World Science Day for Peace and Development is celebrated in all parts of the world – a day highlighting the role science plays in peaceful and sustainable societies. This year, the main focus is levied upon building climate-ready communities, to mitigate and obstruct the environmental challenges due to climate change.

The Maldives being an island-nation is exposed to the highest possible risks of climate change and is least defendable against projected sea-level rise. Over 80% of the islands have an elevation less than 1m above mean sea level (MSL) due to which the islands are highly vulnerable to inundation and coastal erosion.

Contemplating the current and future climate risks, the Maldives aims to develop resilient islands for its people to inhabit. A program for enhancing resiliency through safer Islands was initiated in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the program under which Hulhumalé was reclaimed from a lagoon 4km northeast of the Capital city Male’, in efforts to building a climate-ready safe island.

Incorporating climate adaptation, Hulhumalé was reclaimed approximately 2m above MSL, starting with an average of 150 meters coastal buffer from the reef edges on east. Hulhumalé is proved resilient to extreme events such as high waves or abnormally high sea surface heights. The city is also built considering heat island effect, where residential buildings are largely oriented North-South to reduce heat gain and improve thermal comfort.

The streets of Hulhumalé are designed to optimize wind penetration and public amenities are within 200m to 300m walking distance to reduce dependence on vehicular transport. Indoor and outdoor recreation spaces are planned to encourage more active lifestyles for its residents. Deliberate areas are allocated for greening while dwellings and buildings have minimum built up at ground level with maximum open spaces.

The nation experiences tropical days throughout the year, vesting high potential for harvesting solar energy. Recently, solar panels have been installed on the abundant open roofs of Hulhumalé residential flats, in order to reduce the dependency of fossil fuels.

In addition to achieving increased energy efficiency and reduced vehicular emissions through the overall design of Hulhumalé, a program for renewable energy generation is also under implementation which will enable the State Electric Company (STELCO) to buy electricity that is produced from 1.5 Megawatt of solar photovoltaic systems to be installed in Hulhumalé.

Unlike the rest of the Islands in Maldives, the overall design and planning of Hulhumalé is carried out considering climate change mitigation as an integral part, envisioning a climate-ready society while advancing the quality of life for the population.

As we advocate for peace and development through sustainable solutions to our vulnerable societies, let us remind ourselves the role of science and technology in our lives, to continue sharing knowledge and exert together to overcome the challenges faced by humanity.