“If Seas Continue to Rise as Projected the Maldives Will Be Unlivable by 2100”, States Jon Bowermaster during GFDD/Funglode Special Presentation of Sink or Swim: Learning the Crawl in the Maldives

May 25, 2016

Seeking to educate New York City high school students about the impacts of climate change and incentivize them into action, GFDD/Funglode put together a special film screening and panel discussion at the United Nations today for students from the International School of Liberal Arts based in the Bronx and the High School for Excellence and Innovation based in Inwood. The film being screened was the environmental documentary Sink or Swim: Learning the Crawl in the
Maldives directed by Jon Bowermaster, which was followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker and the Ambassador of Fiji to the United Nations, H.E Mr. Peter Thomson. The event also included a guided tour of the UN, to provide students with the opportunity to learn more about the international organization.

The Global Foundation for Democracy and Development and its sister organization Fundación Global Democracia y Desarollo (Funglode) hosted
filmmaker Jon Bowermaster for a Special Presentation ofhis new documentary film Sink or Swim: Learning the Crawl in the Maldives at the United Nations on May 25, 2016.

The film screening which took place before a packed audience in the UN Church Center, was accompanied by a panel discussion on climate change, seeking to present how this issue has affected the planet and what efforts the youth of today will have to make to ensure the
international community achieves the bold and ambitious climate change treaty it adopted in December. Following the screening, the filmmaker and H.E. Ambassador Peter Thomson, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Fiji to the United Nations spoke to the students about the impacts of sea level rise on small island nations such as the Maldives and Fiji. Ambassador also gave the students a quick overview the recent international policy
achievements reached at the UN over the last year in the area of sustainable development and the fight against climate change.

Marc Jourdan, GFDD’s UN Programs & Outreach Manager, moderated the event, welcoming the attendees before stressing the importance of the work of Jon
Bowermaster. He stressed the power that the medium of film holds, explaining that it “provides an effective platform to raise awareness on key environmental issues such as climate change”.

Following the screening, Jourdan then gave the floor to Ambassador Thomson, who urged the students to “take action against climate change to protect vulnerable small island states” such as Fiji, the Maldives or even the
Dominican Republic. Highlighting the impact that sea level rise had had on his home country, the ambassador noted that the government had started to “relocate villages away from the coasts” and warned the students that in their lifetime they would need to address the millions of climate refugees that would be displaced due to loss of land through sea level rise, as the scientific community predicts a “two-meter rise in ocean levels by the end of the

Reflecting on his experience working in the Maldives, Jon Bowermaster explained that “over 100 children have learned to swim through the swimming program in the Maldives”. He then spoke about the issue of global warming, informing the students that his team had learned that “if seas continue to rise as projected, the Maldives will be unlivable by 2100”. He therefore underlined “the importance of caring
about our seas to protect them from more disasters”.

Thanking the panelist for their remarks, Jourdan then opened the floor for an interactive Q&A with the audience. The filmmaker fielded a variety of questions from attendees ranging from the role that we can play in the fight against climate change to the efforts made by the United Nations to combat this global issue.

Following the discussion, Jon Bowermaster emphasized his
appreciation of GFDD’s event stating: “I’ve done several events with GFDD and they are all great, especially those at the United Nations. Fifty kids showed up today and that was fantastic, because they were so curious, enthusiastic and eager to learn. I think that is the goal for all of us. What GFDD is doing is fantastic, giving the kids an introduction, not just to the film, but to the bigger issue of climate change.”

both the audience and the panelists for their support, Jourdan then invited attendees to continue educating themselves about this issue before escorting them to the UN headquarters for a guided tour of the premises.

About Sink or Swim: Learning the Crawl in the Maldives
The One Ocean Media Foundation helped organize, and film, a unique learn-to-swim project on the remote Maldivian island of Eydafushi. For the ­first time,
forty-eight third-graders and eighteen burkaclad mothers were able to see the water world below the surface.

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