The Fragile Ocean
The South Pacific Islands are made up of lush greenery, multicoloured seas, windswept salty beaches, and rich historic cultures. For many of us, these islands are bucket list escape destinations. But beyond an idyllic first glance, the South Pacific Ocean and the islands that occupy it are undergoing immense environmental challenges due to the global impact of climate change. Rising sea levels, salinization of crops, the significant loss of biodiversity, and plastic pollution are all part of everyday conversations for the inhabitants of Tahiti, Fiji, Tuvalu, the Marquesas, and the thousands of other islands and archipelagos in this region.
At the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, the entire region came together to assert that its very future depends on our collective fight against climate change. Meanwhile, local governments, organizations, and communities are implementing creative and sustainable solutions to protect their own islands, including coral gardens, floating islands, protected marine areas, biodiversity seed banks, turtle and shark hospitals, fishing and farming apps, and saline permaculture projects. These small-scale initiatives stem not only from new scientific findings and available technologies, but also from local communities reviving ancestral practices, which are proving to be ecologically and conservationally friendly.
Sailing for a Cause
Montréal-based cinematographer, photographer and director Guillaume Beaudoin took part in the mega Ocean Cleanup in 2015, a month-long expedition at sea between San Francisco and Hawaii in order to collect data on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that formed inside the gyre of the North Pacific. The trip was eye-opening, and inspired him to return to the South Pacific Ocean, this time to meet with local communities who are affected by environmental challenges, hear their stories, and document their positive actions and the ways they come together to work towards solutions.
“The goal of a project like this is to look at the bright side of things, to see the beauty in human action and people moving forward. The point is precisely to avoid sitting down and doing nothing. The point is to get up and do something, forge relationships, create something, inspire,” said Guillaume before taking off.
The first BESIDE Channel
Over the next few months, Guillaume will hitchhike his way through the South Pacific Ocean to produce a series of webisodes documenting these stories and initiatives.
Across the Salty Roads has inspired BESIDE to create its first web channel, to follow and document Guillaume’s journey in real time. We will publish all-new content — videos, text, photos, and illustrations — documenting Guillaume’s island transmissions and exploring the cutting edge of how local communities are uniquely battling the effects of climate change on their homes.
See you on the salty roads!
Special thanks to these partners and collaborators, who are making Across the Salty Roads possible:
Here’s Guillaume Beaudoin on his motivations for creating Across the Salty Roads:
Introducing: Guillaume Beaudoin
Across the Salty Roads is the initiative of Montréal-based cinematographer, photographer, and director Guillaume Beaudoin. Since the early 2000s, Guillaume has built a strong body of work as a nature and lifestyle photographer and video director.
Photo: Alexis Belhumeur-Coupal
Art Direction: Christine Charlebois
In 2013, he started working around the world, directing TV shows, commercial videos, and music videos across Asia, Africa, and Europe while also working on a film set in Nepal. In 2015, he embarked on his first sailing trip on the Pacific Ocean to collect plastic samples for The Ocean Cleanup.
All of these experiences have been brought together to culminate in the launch of his latest initiative, Across the Salty Roads: an inspiring journey hitchhiking by sail across the South Pacific Islands to collect stories of locals taking initiatives in the fight against climate change.
Travelling vs. Documenting
On making a documentary in the South Pacific
Recorded in Tahiti, July 2017