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Small island states such as Mauritius are suffering from devastating impacts of climate change – and the worst is yet to come. Kavydass Ramano, Mauritius’ minister of environment and climate change, urges advanced nations to honour their pledges under the Paris Agreement, emphasising that we cannot afford to lose time.

Mauritius is a small island developing state (SIDS) and thus particularly vulnerable to climate change. In which ways is Mauritius affected today?
Indeed, Mauritius is amongst the most vulnerable countries to climate change and one of the most exposed to natural hazards due to its geographical location in an active tropical cyclone basin. We are affected in many ways. For example, the sea level is rising at a rate of 5.6 millimetres (mm) per year at mainland Mauritius and 9 mm per year at the island of Rodrigues, while the global average is 3.3 mm per year. The sea-level rise impacts our beaches that are sustaining the tourism industry – which is a major pillar of our economy. In some places, erosion has reduced beach width by up to 20 metres over the past decade. The frequency of storms reaching at least tropical cyclone strength has increased. It is also noteworthy that a study conducted by the US National Academy of Sciences has underlined that the chances of a major tropical cyclone occurring in the southern Indian Ocean basin will increase by 18 % every decade. We are also experiencing ever more frequent and devastating extreme weather events such as flash floods, which severely hurt the economy, the ecosystem and livelihoods. Thus, we are suffering many impacts of climate change.

What are the greatest risks your country is facing in the near future?
Projections for Mauritius are bleak. The projected reduction in rainfall and an increase in evapotranspiration may make agricultural production decline by as much as 15 to 25 % by 2050. With a decrease in rainfall of 10 to 20 % and a temperature increase of 2°, sugar yield is expected to decline by one half to two thirds. The Mauritius Sector Strategy Plan on Tourism estimates that over the next 50 years, half of the beaches will be lost to the point of supporting no visitors. Extreme weather events, including heavy rains, storms and flash floods, are likely to become ever more frequent and intense in Mauritius.

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