Everyday lives in the Maldives

Balancing environmental sustainability, economic development and livelihoods

Research theme: Day-to-day environmental change

The Maldives is well-known internationally as a luxury tourist destination and also as a country that is vulnerable to climate change, particularly sea-level rise. In this project we are interested in these broader issues and with revealing the significance and effects of more gradual, cumulative changes in the physical environment.

There are three changes that are of particular significance and that our project is focussing on. These are:

  1. Losing, making and maintaining beaches
  2. Waste, rubbish and debris in the sea and washing up onto the shore
  3. Changes in the built environment and infrastructure.

Of course, there has long been interest in these three dimensions of environmental change in the Maldives. However, on inhabited islands, attention to them has grown in recent years with the establishment of guesthouses. These now allow international tourists to visit and stay on inhabited islands and to engage with  Maldivians.

Guesthouses represent a significant economic opportunity for island-based communities, and their introduction has gained widespread support. However, the introduction of tourists onto local islands is also causing pressures to recreate the kinds of ‘touristic’ nature that many international visitors expect.