On Thursday December 12, Land is Life, members of New York's Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) and NYU Wagner graduate students came together to discuss a very serious issue for Panama's Kuna Yala indigenous people: community-led archipelago waste management.
For years, high levels of post-consumer waste have plagued the shores and 360 islands of the Kuna Yala people. The debris originates both from local consumption and the tourism industry, and is affecting the region's biodiversity, indigenous way of life and health.
During the briefing, the NYU Wagner group, consisting of five accomplished and dedicated students, gave an overview of the problem, described past and present case studies, and followed up with a stakeholder and material flow analysis. Last, the group provided four potential models to follow — Classical, Policy-driven, Demand-driven and Education-driven — and which they will explore in more depth after carrying out further research.
CSI members serving as invaluable consultants in this project are Will, who has detailed knowledge of plastic waste reduction in cities, particularly regarding bottled water; Peter Adams, who specializes in climate risk management natural disaster impact; and Jenna, who is highly experienced in developing grassroots solutions to poverty and sustainability.
This coming January, the NYU Wagner team will spend two weeks in Panama to better observe the situation and conduct interviews with community members. The group will then create feasible solutions that, through Land is Life, will be formally presented to Kuna Yala community leaders for consideration and implementation.