Skip to main content

Grand Corruption and the SDGs: Selling the Country’s Future - the Island Sales Scheme in the Maldives

Protecting the natural beauty and environment of the Maldives is central to the implementation of its sustainable development agenda. As the bedrock of the tourism industry, the country’s ecosystem is both a source of economic prosperity and an invaluable resource that must be protected in its own right. Grand corruption in the Maldives has directly put this resource at risk.

The island sales scheme, instigated by high-level officials including a former president, led to 50 islands and submerged coral lagoons being leased out for largely unsustainable private developments in 2014 and 2015. The US$ 80 million lost to corruption in this scandal represents a large proportion of what needs to be spent on environmental protection in the Maldives.

The rapid pace of tourist development, exacerbated by corrupt practices, has also rapidly exceeded what is sustainable for the natural environment, threatening biodiversity under water and on land.