Panama: Climate Refugees Flee Sea-Threatened Islands

This is what's happening to 300 families living on an island in the San Blas archipelago

One of the first populations displaced by climate change in Latin America due to rising sea levels are the Panamanians. They are about 300 ethnic Guna families who live on the island of Gardi Sugdub, part of the San Blas Archipelago in Guna Yala territory off the Atlantic coast of Panama. An archipelago of several hundred atolls and paradise islands, which are threatened, however, by rising sea levels.

Climate migrants are people, who are forced to leave their place of residence because of the impact of climate change on their lives or on areas prone to periodic flooding, areas affected by prolonged periods of drought, desertification, sea level rise…

The San Blas Archipelago consists of 378 islands, of which only 49 are inhabited; 1300 residents of Gardi Sugdub will move into 300 new homes in the Nuevo Carti housing development in the village of Nargana, recently inaugurated by Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo.

Cortizo has made polemical statements against the “developed world,” as reported by Metro Libre: “Despite being one of the seven carbon-negative countries, Panama is making these efforts, and we would like the developed countries to do the same, because in the end, greenhouse gas emissions have led to the climate crisis we are experiencing. We have natural lungs here in Darien, same in the Amazon, but what are developed countries doing to move from dirty to clean energy production? They have to do their job.”

In this village, which will house people displaced by climate change from the archipelago, the Panamanian government has invested $12.2 million in construction on 14 hectares of land where the first families will move in between June 3 and 6.