Abstract for:Wasted Paradise? Policies for Small Island Developing States to Manage Economic Growth while Preserving Environmental Quality: The Case of the Maldives

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) face tension between economic growth and environmental impact. To fuel economic growth, they rely on tourism, typically building resorts, increasing bed capacity and developing transport infrastructure. However, tourism negatively affects the environment because it generates significant solid waste, the management of which is a recurrent, pressing, and persistent issue. We assess this tension from a limits to growth perspective, focusing on policies that address growth directly as a means to reduce environmental impact. We test three policies and one scenario which reduce attractiveness of SIDS as a tourist destination, including increasing prices, limiting access, and increasing environmental awareness. To shed insight on this general issue, we develop a system dynamics model using data from the Maldives. The effort to build tourism infrastructure quickly, without building the underlying social service infrastructure to support it (e.g., sewage, trash collection, disposal sites) can exacerbate the environmental damage and limit economic growth from tourism revenue.