In April 2015, Displacement Solutions conducted a second mission to the Gunayala region of Panama to follow-up on its previous visit to the region in March 2014 to investigate how sea level rise was affecting Guna communities on islands off the Caribbean coast. As a result of lack of space, coupled with the impact of sea level rise caused by climate change, many of these island communities wish to relocate to the mainland. In the case of the 1000-strong island community of Gardi Sugdub, the relocation process was initiated in 2010. DS is working closely with the Gunayala people to ensure the best possible outcome emerges from their unfortunate need to relocate to safer land.
The purpose of this second visit was threefold. First, to monitor progress in the relocation of the Gardi Sugdub islanders to the mainland, and the latest action that the Panamanian government is planning for the site where the community plans to relocate. Second, to continue assisting the Guna people in their advocacy with government officials and international financial institutions to encourage greater support and involvement in the relocation process. Third, to organize two workshops on planned relocations, one on the island of Gardi Sugdub for community members, and the second one in Panama City for government officials.
Following the mission, DS has compiled a report entitled One Step at a Time: The Relocation Process of the Gardi Sugdub Community in Gunayala, Panama. The report examines the current state of the Gunayala planned relocation process, and explains DS’s involvement in liaising between the Gunayala community and the Panamanian government. Furthermore, the report explores the application of the Peninsula Principles in this case. The document can be accessed in English and Spanish.