Panama: 300 Indigenous Families Relocated due to Climate Change

Around 300 Indigenous families have been relocated off the island of Gardi Sugdub in Panama due to concerns over rising sea levels. The Indigenous Guna people have lived on the island for generations, yet a majority chose to move to the mainland as the effects of climate change worsened. The families have completed their move-in process to the newly built housing development called Nuevo Cartí on Panama’s mainland. 

Panama’s President Nito Cortizo stated, “In recent years, the population of Gardi Sugdub Island has experienced great concern due to the rise in sea levels, a product of climate change. Given the risk for the residents, our government agreed to found a new settlement to ensure their future.” 

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recently released a report stating that by 2025, around 2.9 million people worldwide will need to be resettled due to climate change. 

Human Rights Watch (HRW), a non-governmental organization, stated that “Engagement by human rights advocates should center on promoting the principle of informed consent — ensuring people move on their own terms — in a changing world.” 

Human Rights Watch published a case study on the Gardi Sugdub island, focusing on the stories of 40 Indigenous Guna people. 

Panama’s Housing Minister, Rogelio Paredes Robles, ensured that the newly built homes for the Guna people “[have] spaces for their [cultural] traditions.”

For more details, visit NBC News