Bluepeace has taken its photo exhibit ‘Vulnerable’ to the Hay Festival Wales, set in the amazingly beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park, in a tented village in Hay-on-Wye, Wales. The exhibit, depicting how vulnerable the Maldives is to the impacts of climate change, was displayed at the festival on June 3. Hundreds of people visited the exhibition at the Hay Festival.

The High Commission of the Maldives in the United Kingdom and the National Centre for the Arts (NCA) of the Maldives supported Bluepeace in taking ‘Vulnerable’ to Wales.

Maldivian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Dr Farahanaz Faizal, accompanied by her staff, participated at the launch of the Hay Maldives event on June 3. The launch was marked with traditional Bodu Beru music, cultural games, Maldivian cuisine and a coconut scraping competition.

By taking the exhibit to the Hay Festival, Bluepeace aims to highlight the vulnerability of the Maldives to climate change and how a culture that has been preserved for centuries could be lost because of global warming and rising seas. The Hay Festival, which attracts poets, writers, artists and musicians, is the perfect gathering to deliver the message that more action is needed to battle climate change on a global level.

President Mohamed Nasheed told an audience at Hay Festival through a video link on 29 May that a huge campaign of direct street action was needed to change the climate change debate in the United States. Nasheed said it was the US which was the biggest obstacle to a global treaty on reducing carbon emissions, and not China and India.

“What we really need is a huge social 60s-style catalystic, dynamic street action. If the people in the US wish to change, it can happen. In the 60s and 70s, they’ve done that,” Nasheed said, referring to the anti-war activism of the 60s and 70s.

While the Maldives is calling for increased global activism to reduce carbon emissions, it has also started promoting cultural tourism in a bid to open the white sandy beaches to different types of travellers. The High Commission of the Maldives in the UK and the Hay Festival is brining the festival to the Maldives from 14 to 17 October 2010.

“The Festival project seeks to celebrate the cultural riches of the archipelago civilisation and to investigate what is special and unique about island life and mindset and to place that in context with the opportunities and challenges faced through climatic change,” Hay Festival said on its website.

“The Festival will provide a platform for focusing international attention on the Maldives, bringing together a selection of the best international and local artists from the fields of literature, art, science, drama, music, poetry and comedy. The Festival will also provide an opportunity for Maldivians to celebrate their own intrinsic, artistic culture,” Hay Festival said.

Wales is the third country where Bluepeace exhibited ‘Vulnerable’, a collection of amazing photos from talented Maldivian photographers. In December 2009, Bluepeace took the exhibit to Klimaforum09, the people’s climate summit held in Copenhagen, Denmark, coinciding with the COP15 conference. In April 2010 Bluepeace displayed a collection of photos from ‘Vulnerable’ at a symposium on Maldives titled Exploring the Contours of Democracy in the Maldives at New Delhi, India. In April the same collection was on display at a popular café in Delhi as well.

Bluepeace launched the exhibition online on October 24, 2009, the International Day of Climate Action. The exhibition was planned to be launched in Republican Square in Male’, Maldives, on October 24. However, Bluepeace was forced to cancel the physical exhibition scheduled for October 24, when Male’ Municipality backtracked on its offer of the Republican Square for the event.

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