September 9, 2011

Moving to Carbon-Neutral

Development of a community depends on how critically it can look at itself. Most communities have their inherent values and mores, and often in cloistered social conditions, we loathe any external influences. But globalization has changed much of that. Maldives is no different. With opening to tourism in the early 1970s, external influences streamed into Maldives, and until now cultures foreign to us have taken over our minds  quickly – most of the time without much reflection of how such changes affect our fundamental social basis. One simple example among others, is the traffic congestion in Male. Motor vehicles are a very useful machine of modern invention – to go places quickly and make transport of goods and services more efficient. But in a place like Maldives, such rationality may not be quite so. Here we see the larger use of our motor vehicles for pleasure, and no doubt, pleasure in the right doses is necessary for human functioning. But when that pleasure is at the expense of another person’s displeasure or utter inconvenience, we are then stepping into the realms of rights and responsibilities in a democratic society. Recent publication in Maldives "To walk or not to walk: a pedestrian’s dilemma in Male", by Clean Air Initiative Asia, EPA-Maldives, and the World Health Organization, provides a peek into the substantive difficulties pedestrians face in Male where one may say an irrational pedestrian culture transformation is taking place. The consequences of injuries to pedestrians from speeding motor vehicles and the inconvenience of narrow pavements make walking in Male a growing physical hazard. In a country that is touting the plans for a carbon-neutral Maldives by 2020, the priority of making Male a pedestrian friendly city stands out stark.

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