On September 29th in Los Angeles, Global Green will celebrate its 20th Annual Global Green Awards. The event was inspired by co-founder President Gorbachev and every year features an international environmental leadership honoree. The 2016 winner is Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed. He will be recognized as a global climate champion and global force for democracy and human rights. This giant leader from one of the world’s smallest countries has become one of the most inspirational figureheads for social justice and climate change. President Mohamed Nasheed is often dubbed the ‘Mandela of the Maldives’ as he was the Maldives’ first democratically elected President.
Nasheed has said, “for the Maldives, climate change is an issue of life or death. It is not a problem in the future, it is a problem that we are facing every day. Sea level rise of even half a meter would make much of the Maldives uninhabitable.” Under President Nasheed’s leadership, the Maldives announced plans to become the world’s first carbon-neutral nation by 2020. President Nasheed even held a cabinet meeting underwater in 2009 to draw attention to the danger the Maldives would face from rising sea levels.
Time Magazine has declared President Nasheed a ‘Hero of the Environment’. In April 2010, the United Nations presented Nasheed with its ‘Champions of the Earth’ environment award and he was also presented with the James Lawson Award for the practice of nonviolent action.
Sadly this climate champion was forced to resign in a coup d’etat by the forces loyal to the country's former dictatorship. Adding insult to injury, last year, Mr. Nasheed was convicted of trumped up charges of terrorism and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Two of the three judges at Mr. Nasheed’s trial were prosecution witnesses in the case. He was not allowed to present witnesses of his own. Amnesty International denounced the trial as “a travesty of justice,” and Secretary of State John Kerry called his imprisonment “an injustice.” This January, Mr. Nasheed was finally released for medical reasons and now resides in the UK where he was granted political asylum. Today, Mr. Nasheed continues his passionate fight for democracy, and action against climate change. Calling the Maldives a "front line state" in the climate battle, he says, “if you can't protect the Maldives today, you can't protect yourselves tomorrow.” We continue to remember his determination and are inspired to act in his likeness in order to better the world we share.