The Government of the Maldives and La Compagnie Benjamin de Rothschild (CTBR) have agreed a strategic partnership to take-forward the country’s pledge to become carbon neutral by 2020, an e-mail announcement by the Maldivian Presidential Secretariat said.Under the agreement, CTBR will be mandated to secure international finance to fund a carbon footprint audit and master plan for Maldives.

Once funding is secured, BeCitizen will undertake a two-month assessment of the Maldives’ “carbon footprint,” detailing emissions from all sectors of the economy, including transport, housing, tourism, energy production and waste management.

The statement said that the pact was signed on Monday, during a meeting between President Nasheed and Baron Benjamin and Baroness Ariane de Rothschild at Chateau de Pregny, the Rothschild’s Geneva residence.

Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam signed the agreement on behalf of the Maldives; Baron Benjamin de Rothschild signed on behalf of CTBR, and Baroness Ariane de Rothschild signed on behalf of BeCitizen, the Rothschild’s environmental advisory arm.

Once the audit of the Maldives’ carbon footprint is complete, BeCitizen will develop a detailed Carbon Neutral Master Plan, which will outline precisely how the Maldives can meet its 2020 carbon neutral goal. The carbon audit and the Carbon Neutral Master Plan are due to be completed during 2010.

As per the statement CTBR will then assist the Maldivian Government, when requested, to secure international finance and investors to implement the various projects, such as wind farms, waste recycling plants, sustainable transport solutions, foreseen in the Master Plan. The projects will be conceived, structured and implemented as Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). Finance will be sourced from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IFC, private investors and international markets.

It quoted President Nasheed as saying after the inking of the agreement, “The Maldives wants to set an example, by demonstrating that a country can develop without having to pollute the planet. After all, it is not carbon we want but development, it is not coal we want but electricity, it is not oil we want but transport. The Maldives aims to grow but we want our growth to be green.

“With the 250 year old financial expertise and reach of the Rothschilds, and the environmental know-how of BeCitizen, I am confident this partnership will enable the Maldives to make rapid inroads into its national carbon footprint.”

Benjamin & Ariane de Rothschild told the gathering on the occasion, “We congratulate the Maldives Government and the people of Maldives on their ambition to become one of the first states to be Carbon Neutral. Such a statement of intent is not only important for reasons of moral leadership in tackling climate change - the greatest challenge facing the world today - but also because it places the Maldives at the head of the pack in the transition to a low-carbon world.

“Together, the joint efforts of the Maldives government, its people, and The Edmond de Rothschild Group will make this ambitious objective a reality by 2020.

“The Edmond de Rothschild Group is convinced that, as well as helping Maldives becoming carbon neutral, the partnership will spur domestic economic growth and new revenue-generating business opportunities for the country.”

In March 2009, President Nasheed announced the Maldives’ intention of becoming the world’s first carbon neutral country by 2020. Under the Copenhagen Accord, the Maldives also made a unilateral commitment to become carbon neutral by 2020, in effect, reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by 100%.