Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Baa Atoll Conservation Fund is officially Launched on Wednesday, 13th June 2012. The event took place at a special ceremony held in Baa Atoll Eydhafushi. President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan launched the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and Baa Atoll Conservation Fund followed by the official opening of the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Office.
Baa Atoll was recognized as Biosphere Reserve on 28thJune 2011 by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is the first Biosphere Reserve established in Maldives. The main functions of the Biosphere Reserve are: conservation, sustainable development and learning.
The Baa Atoll Conservation fund is a collaborative effort between the Global Environment Facility and the Government of Maldives. Majority of tourist resorts operated in Baa Atoll have pledged to donate an annual contribution to the fund, which in turn will finance projects to conserve the environment in Baa Atoll as well promote sustainable livelihood opportunities.
In the ceremony, on behalf of the Global Environment Facility, Ms. Azusa Kubota from UNDP handed over a cheque worth 250,000 US dollars to the fund. On behalf of the government of Maldives, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Treasury Mr. Ismail Shafeeq handed over a cheque for 50,000 US dollars. The cheques were received by the Minister of Environment and Energy Dr. Mariyam Shakeela.
In the address by the Minister of Environment and Energy Dr. Mariyam Shakeela; she remarked that Baa Atoll which has obtained the status of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is a source of national pride to Maldivians. She called for all Maldivians to support in the management of the Biosphere Reserve.
Mr. Abdul Moomin Adam, Member of Baa Atoll Council delivered the welcome address at the ceremony. Mr. Abdullahi Majeed, Deputy Minister of Environment and Energy delivered the vote of thanks.
The Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture and high level government delegates attended the ceremony; including the Baa Atoll Council members and representatives from all the island councils of Baa Atoll, the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Advisory Board Members, General Managers of Resorts operating in Baa Atoll, representative from Liveaboard Association were among the attendees.