Sunday, 18 October: Maldives has made history by holding the first ever cabinet meeting in the world yesterday in Girifushi Lagoon in Male Atoll. President Mohamed Nasheed, who has been hailed for his courageous efforts to inspire greater world attention to tackle climate change, and his young team of ministers attended this 47th meeting of the cabinet.
The under-sea cabinet signed a historic declaration making a frantic appeal to world leaders to take urgent and effective action to combat climate change. President Nasheed, Vice-President Mohamed Waheed and 12 members of the cabinet signed three copies of the declaration, one of which will be sent to Copenhagen, one to be kept in the President's Office and the third for the national museum.
In the meeting the president and his cabinet ministers communicated in sign language used by divers. Two members of the cabinet could not attend the meeting.
Immediately after the meeting President Nasheed and his cabinet came to shallower waters and raising their faces above the sea. A buoyant and smiling president told media, joined by a representation of major world media networks, that the purpose of the meeting was to tell the world what is going to happen to the Maldives if climate change is not tackled. He said was a challenging situation where everyone has to take part and urgent action is taken to save the world.
The president said it was a serious issue which requires serious action. President Nasheed expressed the hope the world will take serious note of it and make a better deal in Copenhagen in December. He said his message is to impress upon the world leaders about the seriousness and urgency of the issue. [passage omitted]
Maldives Divers' Association was the major partner of the historic event. The event was conducted and coordinated with the participation of Maldivian divers only. The president and each member of the cabinet were escorted by one of their divers.
The conduct of the meeting went on routine, with Maldivian national flag hoisted near the table where they were seated. The president and other members all signed each of the three originals of the declaration in three separate rounds. After exchanging OK sign between the president, the 12-minute undersea cabinet meeting was over, setting a new world record. [passage omitted]
The event, which was organized under the global 350 campaign, will be focusing on urgent global action to reduce the carbon emission level to minimum healthy level of 350 from its present level of 386.
The Maldives, which has moved to the front line in the fight against climate change under the leadership of President Nasheed, is expected to earn much international publicity after this landmark under sea cabinet meeting. The event will also attract more tourists to visit Maldives, which is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. [passage omitted]
President Nasheed has earlier announced to make the Maldives the first carbon neutral country in the world. The government has decided to implement several programs to demonstrate its support to tackle climate change, including developing alternative energy sources and green tourist resorts which will run on renewable energy. The government as also established a countrywide sea transport network which will also help reduce its oil dependence and will enhance energy efficient and saving building regulations.
The underwater cabinet meeting held yesterday was the newsmaker of the day. Only time would tell how successful and effective tool it was, but its immediate goal was to grab world attention and it certainly did captivate world's attention yesterday. It got international news coverage and some news channels like CNN and BBC brought live coverage of the event. From Sydney Morning Herald to Hindustan Times to Al Jazeera to Huffington Post, all covered the news.
[Signed wet suits worn by the president and the ministers will be auctioned on www.protectmaldives.com.mv to raise funds for coral reef protection in the Maldives, a press release carried by the President's Office website reported.]
Source: Miadhu News website, Male, in English 18 Oct 09
"Maldives president 'buoyant' after underwater cabinet meeting." BBC Monitoring International Reports 18 Oct. 2009.
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