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The Island President is a 2012 documentary, which highlights the tireless efforts of Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Republic of Maldives to save his country and people from the devastating impacts of global climate change. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, then the headlines of the first underwater cabinet meeting of the Maldives might jog your memory. Nasheed was the leader behind that event and gave the world a wakeup call.
“It is going to be very difficult for us to adapt to climate change issues if we do not have solid and secure democratic governance,” said Mohamed Nasheed.
The documentary is an example of what leadership should look like in this crucial time in the fight against climate change.
Mohamed Nasheed became the first democratically elected President of his country in 2008 after an extensive struggle against the sitting government. What makes him stand out among the elected presidents over the course of history is his focus on issues instead of lamenting about the struggles once he came to power.
Maldives, just 1.5 metres above sea level, has faced the consequences of climate change since the time when the rest of the world was debating its potential future costs. For Maldives, it is about survival and the impacts are glaring countrymen in the face. All varying opinions were put to rest when in 2004 a tsunami hit, whiping out 50 per cent of the island’s GDP.
Mohamed Nasheed’s initial cabinet meetings revealed that most of the country’s key macro issues were tied to climate change. If leadership in other countries decide to genuinely breakdown the causes of issues faced, they are more likely going to reach the same conclusion.
The documentary follows the President and his team, as they prepare for the December 2009 Copenhagen Climate Summit. While, it might seem that we have come a long way from that summit, the political reality thas not changed much. In fact, in many cases leaders are getting more regressive. Many in power around the globe are of the opinion that climate change is a conspiracy theory or that there is only pressure on the developed world to tackle it, as the developing world cannot mitigate it and requires resources to reach their development goals.
If the development that we all are racing towards isn’t sustainable, we won’t survive the onslaught of climate change or to be able to enjoy the fruits of our growth. This makes The Island President a significant documentary to remind ourselves what should be on our priority list, and to provide some leadership inspiration.
Fatima Arif is Senior Officer Digital Media, WWF-Pakistan