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Maldives desperate for funds as islands risk going under

The tropical Maldives is famous for its beautiful beaches and warm climes.

But it could lose entire islands unless it can quickly access cheap financing to fight the impact of climate change - according to its foreign minister, Abdulla Shahid.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) MALDIVES FOREIGN MINISTER, ABDULLA SHAHID, SAYING:

"For the small states it is not easy when the financing mechanisms are established in such a way that in order to obtain finance itself is a marathon...by the time the finance is obtained, we may be under water.

"Many islands, the islands are being taken away by the sea. So, in order to protect the islands, we need to start building sea walls. It's an expensive...but we need it. Some of the islands are being taken away. We can't wait until all of them are taken away."

The archipelago's former president famously held a cabinet meeting underwater to draw attention to submerging land and global warming a decade ago.

Yet since then it has struggled to find the cash to build critical infrastructure.

Including failed requests for new funding to help them deal with global warming's effects at last December's U.N. climate talks in Madrid.

More than 80% of its land is less than one meter above mean sea levels.

Making its population of around 530,000 people extremely vulnerable to storm surges, sea swells and severe weather exacerbated by climate change.