Daniel W. Drezner

As PR stunts go, this one is pretty imaginative

As public relation stunts go, I think the President of Maldives has managed to top that f$%&ing balloon boy family: President Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed and 11 cabinet ministers donned scuba gear and submerged 4 meters below the surface of sea to hold the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting, in a bid ...

What do you mean, no one brought the coffee urn?

As public relation stunts go, I think the President of Maldives has managed to top that f$%&ing balloon boy family:

President Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed and 11 cabinet ministers donned scuba gear and submerged 4 meters below the surface of sea to hold the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting, in a bid to push for a stronger climate change agreement in the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen.

“We are trying to send our message to let the world know what is happening and what will happen to the Maldives if climate change isn’t checked” said President Nasheed, speaking to the press as soon as he resurfaced from underwater.

“What we are trying to make people realize is that the Maldives is a frontline state. This is not merely an issue for the Maldives but for the world. If we can’t save the Maldives today, you can’t save the rest of the world tomorrow”, said President Nasheed further.

During the 30-minute meeting held in the turquoise lagoon off Girifushi Island, with a backdrop of corals, the President, the Vice President and eleven other Cabinet ministers signed a resolution calling for global cuts in carbon emissions.

This has definitely generated some press coverage, so props to Nasheed for an imaginative stunt. 

Just to be contrarian, however, I do wonder if it’s the case that as small island nations go, so does the rest of the world.  Because they are sovereign actors, small island nations often possess greater influence than their population or GDP merits.  Would a rational, cost-benefit analysis of how to allocate climate change resources between mitigation and adaptation really place such a high priority on a bunch of small countries with a combined population of less than ten million? 

This isn’t a rhetorical question — I honestly don’t know. 

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner