Nothing compares to silent swimming at sunrise and dolphin-watching at sunset in pastel shades that will bowl you over, then slap you in the face with the harsh reality of a thousand low-lying coral islands, which were once five thousand, and will likely be completely submerged within the century.

A couple of months back, while in the Maldives staging the most bizarrely surreal overwater screening of my film, I tacked on a few firsts between two of the most mesmerising islands I have ever beheld. Over two days, I learned both painful ramifications of a global warming, and the promising conservation efforts from Soneva’s team of marine biologists and sustainability teams – which, though exceptional in their proficiency and innovation, take significant amounts of time that cannot be afforded by the constant and looming threat of a few extra degrees in ocean temperatures, and thus coral bleaching that can wipe out years of regeneration work and diverse ecosystems that rely on these delicate organisms.

The sentiment from the essay I wrote for In The Youth of Our Fury almost two years ago remains the same: it’s understandably impossible to comprehend our terrifying damage to our environment without firsthand knowledge of what it is we have to lose. For someone who grows up landlocked without the opportunity to witness the magic of a living, breathing ocean or rainforest or mountain range, the ideas of conservation and sustainability become commercial buzzwords limited to disingenuous political campaigns and crunchy granola mummy blogs. Even as someone who grew up in nature and an education system with a state-driven focus on the power of the individual to make environmental impacts with small acts, nothing could compare to taking a dive amongst the vibrant but vulnerable wildlife and the measures put in place to protect them.


Margaret Zhang 章凝 is an Australian-born-Chinese filmmaker, photographer, consultant and writer based between New York and Shanghai. Since establishing her website in 2009, Zhang has gone on to work with global brands including CHANEL, Swarovski, YEEZY, Bulgari, Gucci, MATCHES, Under Armour, and Louis Vuitton in a wide range of capacities both in front of and behind the camera, while completing her Bachelor of Commerce/Bachelor of Laws at The University of Sydney. Zhang’s directing, photography, and styling has been employed by the likes of VOGUE, L’Officiel, Harper’s BAZAAR, NOWNESS, and ELLE internationally. She has been listed in Forbes Asia’s 30Under30 and TimeOut’s 40Under40, and her work has been recognized as shaping the international fashion industry by the Business of Fashion BoF500 Index for four consecutive years. CNN has identified Zhang as a leading fashion photographer in Asia and ELLE named her the region’s most influential digital voice. She went on to be the first Asian face to cover ELLE Australia. In 2016, she co-founded BACKGROUND, a global consultancy for which she specialises in Western-to-Chinese and Chinese-to-Western cultural bridging for a range of luxury, lifestyle, and brand initiatives. In 2017, she exhibited a series of 39 unseen photographic works as a solo show in Sydney, and premiered her first short film – a 15-minute exploration of her visceral relationship with classical music on both performance and abstract planes – to critical acclaim. In 2018, co-curated the first annual FOREFRONT Summit focused on inter-industry problem-solving at all scales of business. From this king summit, Zhang developed FOREFRONT+ – a round table series of candid conversations covering subject matters of universal concern. In 2019, THE FACE Magazine engaged Zhang as Creative-Director-at-Large for Asia for its relaunch. Zhang is currently working on her first feature film.


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