The Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives is the smallest country in Asia – it packs 325,000 people into a land area just under 300 square kilometres. With no place more than six feet above the sea, it is on the frontline of climate change impact. As the polar ice melts and sea levels rise, these and other low-lying islands will be the first to go under water. Coastal erosion, salt intrusion and extreme weather events will make many islands uninhabitable much sooner.
Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Maldives, sees it both as a human rights issue and a security threat. On the eve of the Copenhagen Climate Summit, he makes an earnest appeal for the world to defend the frontline states, such as his. He also emphasizes how democracy and good governance are vital for countries adapting to climate change. His message to the world leaders: Don't be stupid! The deed is done, so instead of finger pointing, let's see how we can cope with impacts.