Good afternoon Mr Paul Leech, Mr Nick Nikolov and manager here in Male’, staff of HSBC, my friends, Ladies and Gentlemen;

It is a pleasure to be here this afternoon. I congratulate HSBC for taking the lead in taking the first green business office in Male’. I think this is quite a remarkable achievement given that we have now decided that we will achieve carbon neutrality in the Maldives over the next ten years time. You are all aware that the President made the declaration months ago and we are in the process of drawing up plans on how to achieve this. Clearly it is not going to be easy. But I have talked to people with different opinions – some who think it is going to be difficult, but there are also others I met, who think that ten years is not ambitious enough.

Carbon neutrality doesn’t mean it is going to be carbon zero. It means that we will not produce more carbon than we can account for. It is very much like a bank account where we are also able to offset any carbon that we do emit. But clearly it requires substantial reduction in CO2 emission in the country and we hope that this can be achieved with the participation of the private sector. The government alone cannot do it. There is an important role for the private sector and the example that is being set here today is a really important one for the rest of the business community in the Maldives.

We rely almost entirely on diesel fuel for generation of electricity in the country and when we leave our lights on, we are actually wasting money. When we leave our televisions on without watching, we are also wasting electricity, diesel and ultimately our own money. So I think it is kind of symbolically important that the bank is taking the initiative on this because I think people can save quite a bit of money by being energy efficient and by adopting renewable energy.

We are convinced that very important percentage of the CO2 reduction to be achieved through this. This can be achieved at home, on the streets, in businesses, in resorts and so on.
We are also in the process of exploring ways of supporting various business sectors to achieve energy efficiency over the next couple of years. We are in discussion with International Finance Corporation to arrange credit facilities, businesses that want to implement new and renewable clean technologies in their businesses. We are looking at for example the tourism sector as one of the sectors where this can be achieved. The green office building here is HSBC’s first important step towards Maldives becoming carbon-neutral. Government cannot achieve this mission on its own. For us to be successful in this ambitious project we require the whole hearted support of the private sector.

Once again I want to congratulate you. I think this is an excellent example for everybody else. I hope that you will also encourage your colleagues in the business sector as well as through your lending investment programmes to support our goals for carbon neutrality. We are quite confident that this can be achieved with your support.

So thank you very much and congratulations.