My good friend Dilrukshi Handunnetti, a leading investigative journalist in Sri Lanka, is currently on a Jefferson Fellowship traveling in the United States. She is one of a dozen journalists from the Asia Pacific who have been competitively chosen to participate in this prestigious programme, which in 2009 is focusing on the theme, The Right Climate for Confronting Climate Change?
I finished my latest climate film, Small Islands – Big Impact, only the day before Dilrukshi left for Hawaii, her first stop in the multi-destination, intensive programme. Given her long standing coverage of the Maldivian political affairs as well as Asian/global environmental issues, I gave her a DVD of the film to take along.
I’m delighted to hear that she has been showing Small Islands – Big Impact in various presentations, often producing a…big impact wherever it was shared. It’s always good to have such feedback — here’s an excerpt from an email she has just sent me from Boulder, Colorado:
“I liked presenting your short film and the response it generated. The film generated a discussion on promoting the concept of (climate) adaptation as a human right – just as I felt it would be such a catch phrase here. I also had the (media coverage of) the underwater Cabinet meeting with me. So Maldives got a lot of attention despite not having a Maldivian here.
“Several wanted to know about the actual risk level of the Maldives and the possibility of the islands being submerged. They also asked about purchasing land elsewhere and whether the Maldives had the financial capability to do that. Others wanted to know about depleting fish catch President Nasheed spoke about as this was a common concern to Indonesia, Southern India and Vietnam.
“Some queried whether President Nasheed was going to Copenhagen to state his case. Two others asked whether lobby groups were behind his thinking. Several found, including American, Chinese and Indian participants, that President Nasheed’s call to end the blame game should be heeded by all. There was collective agreement that others’ behaviour impacted on the likes of President Nasheed and vulnerable communities.
“Interestingly, everyone found his interview a STORY. Something that they would want to report on in their respective media. We continue to discuss the same on our tours and walkathons from venue to venue for various meetings. In fact, I had the American participant asking our resource persons (IPCC types, no less!) whether they were willing to acknowledge the concept of climate refugees directly in relation to the Maldives.
“I think the movie served a great purpose of awakening the minds of many to the threat level faced by some communities on low lying coastal nations – like the pacific Islands and the Maldives. A senior broadcaster from the Tonga Broadcasting Corporation personally thanked me for wanting to highlight their plight as a small island nation.”
You can watch Small Islands – Big Impact online here:
Read the full text of my interview with President Nasheed on TVEAP website
As with all TVEAP films, this one too is available free of license fees and copyright restrictions to broadcast, civil society and educational users anywhere in the world. It’s now a year since I wrote a widely reproduced op ed essay on Planet before profit for climate change films — I practise what I preach!
A journalist for over 17 years, Dilrukshi Handunnetti has extensively covered politics, the environment, culture, and history and gender issues. In her current role, she writes the parliamentary column for the newspaper in addition to writing and editing investigative stories carried in her publication. Dilrukshi has also covered the ethnic conflict from a non-military perspective and written extensively on issues of good governance, graft and corruption. Dilrukshi is the recipient of many national journalism awards in Sri Lanka, including: the Young Reporter of the Year 2001, Best Environment Reporter of the year 2002, Best Environment Reporter of the year 2003, Best English Journalist of the Year 2004 (Merit) Award and D B Dhanapala Award for the Best English Journalist of the Year 2005, all presented by the Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka.
In this extract from our 2005 film Deep Divide, Dilrukshi talks about Sri Lanka’s coastal resource development challenges before and after the 2004 Asian Tsunami: