The Island President
6 pm Tuesday, April 9
Champaign Public Library
Come to our free screening and discussion of a documentary that lifts the issue of global warming out of the theoretical and into the personal. President Mohamed Nasheed is trying to prevent 385,000 people from drowning. His nation of 1,200 low-lying islands, the Maldives, is sinking into the Indian Ocean as sea levels rise due to global warming. Watch a preview.
The Maldives is a tropical Shangri-La of breathtakingly beautiful turquoise reefs, beaches, and palm trees. But, despite its idyllic appearance, the country is threatened by an implacable and unrelenting adversary: the rising ocean. Considered the lowest lying country in the world, the Maldives would be rendered virtually uninhabitable by a sea level rise of a mere three meters. Unless dramatic changes are made by the larger countries of the world, the 1200 islands of the Maldives will disappear under the waves like a modern day Atlantis. Can one courageous leader stand up to the rest of the world and make a difference on
Panelists for the discussion are Michael Timlin of the Illinois State Water Survey and Mara Eisenstein, director of marketing and special projects for the Illinois Green Business Association.
The film captures the popular and charismatic Nasheed’s first year in office, a time when he influences the direction of international events in a way few leaders have ever done, even in countries many times the size of the Maldives. Educated in Sri Lanka and England, Nasheed proved to be an unusually shrewd and sophisticated politician who grasped that the only way he could stand up to the catastrophic issues of climate change facing the Maldives would be to take his cause to the world stage.
The film culminates in Nasheed’s trip to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, where the film provides a rare glimpse of the political horse-trading that goes on at such a top-level global assembly. Nasheed is unusually candid about revealing his strategies—leveraging the Maldives’ underdog position, harnessing the power of media, and overcoming deadlocks through an appeal to unity with other developing nations.
Following the completion of the film, Mohamed Nasheed resigned the presidency in February 2012, under the threat of violence in a coup d’état perpetrated by security forces loyal to the former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and minority Islamist activists.
The program airs on WILL-TV at 9 pm Monday, April 22.