SDG
UNLEASH

Solution catalogue

Ulu Climate lab

The Guna are one of the 7 indigenous nationalities that live in Panama, inhabiting 36 islands on the shores of the Caribbean. A major component of their culture is the unique relationship with their environment: they are a matriarchal self sustainable community.

Despite the fact that they have one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, the Guna islands are drowning due to rising sea levels. They have become the first documented indigenous community in Latin America to be forced to move because of climate change. The lack of a scientific knowledge and resources means they have not been effective at adapting.

In the next 20 years they are all condemned to be climate refugees.

Problem

A lack of technology and knowledge among the Guna people means they don’t know that their islands will be gone in the next 20 years and that they are condemned to be climate refugees.

The environmental indigenous knowledge of the Guna people provides an opportunity for creating adaptation solutions. But a lack of a scientific knowledge and resources means they have not been effective at responding to the rising sea levels.

Solution

To bridge the gap between their environmental indigenous wisdom and the mainstream scientific knowledge on climate change, we will build the Ulu Climate lab, an educational platform for climate resilience on a sail boat.

The Ulu Climate lab will give the Guna people a powerful platform to create their own adaptive solutions to climate change in two ways:

Firstly, the permanent Media Lab will allow young Guna people to document climate change impacts in the Caribbean and create awareness campaigns.

Secondly, the seasonal exhibition Climate Programme will allow young Guna people to connect with local climate experts and learn new adaptive technologies.

Innovation

We have checked: guna people really need this and they are not alone on this journey. There are already supporters for their cause in Panama and around the world. Now we need your help to make the Ulu Climate Lab happen.

Our boat has the potential to scaled to the Pacific Islands and other vulnerable coastal indigenous communities that also need sustainable development solutions. The Ulu Climate Lab connects, educates and empowers the young Guna people to be climate leaders.

Impact

The Boat will allow young Guna people to learn about climate change through workshops and activities with local climate experts and technology. This will give the Guna people the knowledge they need to create adaptive solutions to the rising sea levels that is swallowing their islands.

The indigenous knowledge of the Guna people, combined with the education and resources of the Ulu, and the intentional attention and urgency of this topic, will catapult the young Guna people to be leaders in the development of adaptive solutions against rising sea levels.

The Guna boat has the potential to be used as a framework to be scaled to the Pacific Islands and other coastal indigenous communities and to address the other SDGS.

Next Steps

We already made a survey with 330 participants over instagram and 98% responded in favor to the idea. We have contacted the local government, young indigenous guna organizations and recieved their validation and approval as well as the validation of the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Tourism and the Panamanian Marine authority. Meetings with these Panamanians Institutions are being scheduled in December 2019. Academics from Harvard and the Regional Director of Climate Adapatation at UN gave us feedback and are open for possible collaborations in the future.

Immediate Requests

Funding