Kathmandu: Maldives believes it is time to walk the talk on climate policies jointly-supported by all South Asian countries, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen said at the 18th SAARC Summit here Wednesday.
Yameen, who also officiated as the outgoing chair during the first part of the opening ceremony of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, urged member countries to find a common platform for climate change policies.
"We are affected by climate change but complacent in taking action. We put it on the back-burner. Should we not demand what we want, should we not raise our voice in the international arena and defend them ardently," he asked.
"Collectively we can cross oceans and it is time we start putting South Asia first," Xinhua quoted him as saying
Maldives hopes to push SAARC into a stronger commitment of climate change and in turn make a strong presence when the world meets in 2015 for a progressive deal on fighting greenhouse gas emissions.
Maldives is an archipelago of low-lying coral atolls located in the Indian Ocean.
More than 80 percent of the islands making up the Maldives are less than one metre above the mean sea level.
Climate change is a stark reality for Maldivian communities already experiencing water shortage, damage to homes and infrastructure, damage to food crops from saltwater intrusion, and an increase in outbreak of diseases.
Maldives is also expected to hold bilateral talks with some of the SAARC members, including India, Pakistan and Nepal.
The Saarc members are holding discussions for collective development at the two-day summit themed "Deeper Regional Integration for Peace and Prosperity".
Established in 1985 in Bangladesh, Saarc groups eight South Asian countries -- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.