The Maldives, a paradise nation of over a thousand coral islands nestled in the heart of the Indian Ocean, is my birthplace and my sanctuary.

I grew up to the rhythmic sound of the Indian Ocean’s waves arriving on my island’s shores. Even after 26 years, this nostalgic sound soothes me.

Pristine beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and crystal-clear waters were the backdrop of my childhood adventures.

This mighty ocean has always been our lifeblood, our playground, and the source of our sustenance for generations.

Unfortunately, Maldives is also the lowest lying country in the world. We sit perilously close to the ocean’s surface. Our 1,200 islands are an average of just 1.5 metres above it. Some are even lower.

This geographic disadvantage has put us on the frontlines of the climate crisis — and we’re living through the chilling consequences right now.

Every year, as the planet warms and sea levels rise, the waves are edging ever closer, seizing our land.

My island home is sinking.

The ocean, which once symbolised an endless source of beauty and abundance to my people, is now threatening our very existence.

The country I call home could disappear completely by the end of this century — swallowed by the rising seas.

It’s terrifying. A stark and distressing reality that keeps us young people awake at night.

(Naff Asim is a 26-year-old climate activist from Maldives. She’s been working as a marine biologist and environmental consultant across the country since 2016. She regularly collaborates with international organizations and has helped establish Marine Protected Areas in the Maldives to replenish marine biodiversity, increase food security and increase communities’ incomes.)