In November 1989, less than three months after Bluepeace was formed, the first small states conference on sea level rise was held in the Maldives. As a dramatic conclusion to the conference, a demonstration was held in Male’, in which students and the general public spoke on the imminent dangers of living in a low-lying country. A large billboard placed by Bluepeace asked the question “Do you know we are just four feet above sea level?”
I’m not a professional photographer, but as a journalist I often carry a camera and take photos of what interests me. So I’m very glad to have captured that historic bill board as a journalist covering the conference. Bluepeace still uses it in their records, always with acknowledgement.
Ali Rilwan, Bluepeace co-founder whom I photographed as a young man, says: “Twenty years later, we need not ask the same question, as the world is well-aware of the dangers Maldives faces. However, we face the urgent need to talk and work with the rest of the world to find solutions.”
Now, Bluepeace is actively using photographs as part of their climate advocacy.
VULNERABLE is a photo exhibition organised by Bluepeace. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Bluepeace, and to join the global environmental movement bringing attention to the dangers of climate change in the run up to United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP15), Bluepeace presents VULNERABLE, which showcases the face of climate change in the Maldives. The exhibition documents the vulnerability of the fragile coral islands of the Maldives to climate change, through pictures from talented Maldivian photographers. It depicts a nation under threat, as it tries to safeguard an age-old culture and lifestyle that could be erased with rising seas and climate change.
In the coming weeks and months the exhibition will move to different locations in the Maldives and other countries, including Copenhagen in December 2009, where it will be hosted by Klimaforum09, an alternate climate summit with participation from global environmental movements and civil society organisations.
I can’t wait to see the exhibit in a physical display, which is more powerful than viewing it online. For now, here are some glimpses…