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Asian Development Bank

100 Climate Actions from Cities in Asia and the Pacific


After thirty years of dumping solid waste, the Maldives’ capital city and surrounding islands are investing in a more sustainable waste management system to reduce emissions, improve resilience and protect local fishing and tourism industries.

The greater Malé region is on the way to establishing a more sustainable waste management system to replace a dumpsite on a nearby island that has been a health and environmental hazard for thirty years.


To improve waste management, the greater Malé region (including small nearby outer islands close to Malé) is implementing a two-phased project stretching to 2026. The project is financed through a combination of grants and loans from ADB, as well as government financing and a $10 million grant from the Japan Fund for Joint Credit Mechanism (JFJCM), a special fund set up by the Japanese government to incentivise low-carbon investments. 

The first phase will invest $40 million in improved waste collection, transfer and disposal, as well as awareness raising and behaviour change around sustainable solid waste management. The second phase will invest a further $151 million in a climate resilient waste treatment facility, including a waste-to-energy plant and improved landfill for treatment residues, as well as improving institutional capacity.

The Maldives’ waste management plans aim to completely rehabilitate Thilafushi, the current ‘trash island’ where waste is dangerously dumped (photo Water Solutions Pvt. Ltd.).

The Challenge

For the past 30 years, solid waste generated in the Greater Malé area has been dumped with no treatment and burned in the open on the industrial island of Thilafushi.


Social The project includes improved waste management for poor outer island communities, including skills training and awareness and behaviour change campaigns for sustainable solid waste management.

Health Adopting more sustainable waste management practices will improve public and environmental health, especially for women and the poor.

Environment The project will decrease the amount of leachate and solid waste like plastics that currently enter the sea from the trash island, improving ocean health.

Economic The project will reduce ocean pollution and positively impact the tourism and fishery sectors, two cornerstones of the Maldives’ economy.