The Island President tells the story of the former president’s fight for climate action
The new documentary, The Island President, depicts former-president Mohamed Nasheed’s efforts to draw the world’s attention to the plight of his country. The islands that make up the Maldives lie barely above sea level. With a few feet of sea level rise, they will be inundated.
John Shenk, the San Francisco-based director of the film, was a guest on KQED’s Forum last week. He talked about how Nasheed, the country’s first democratically-elected president (he resigned in February), and a former human rights campaigner, became a climate change activist.
“He took office and immediately plunged into the climate debate,” Shenk said. “He’s framing the climate debate as a human rights issue. He very much sees the climate fight, the struggle against climate change, as an extension of his fight for democracy.”
In a quote from the film, Nasheed explains: “When we came to power we thought we won the fight. After twenty years, we thought, ‘Look, OK, we’ll have a happy life.’ But we had our first few cabinet meetings, and most of the pending issues were climate change issues. Weather patterns are changing, and that’s having a very big impact on fisheries. We have lost a lot of the shoreline. Our islands are going to be flooded.”