In Puerto Rico, poverty and lack of government support has lead to adaptation and innovation. When I use the term innovation I’m not referring toward the development of a stereotypical high tech society, where humanity continues to squeeze the land dry for resources and separate itself from the environment. Instead, I refer to innovation that is built upon turning back to traditional methods and ideals that connect people back to their community and the land they live on. Without knowing it, Puerto Ricans are constantly participating in sustainable innovation on a community and individual based level. Their innovation touches upon the three main pillars of sustainability; economic viability, social equity and environmental protection. Even with small swathes of land, many Puerto Ricans grow vegetables and fruits and own small farm animals such as chickens. Puerto Rico's tropical climate allows for year long agriculture, so there is always the potential for local food sources. Many collect resources from local green spaces that act as food forests. Their rainforests have an abundance of fruiting plants such as banana, guava, papaya, passion fruit and mango trees. Their forests are also home to a variety of pharmaceutical plants. Coastal areas are abundant with marine life that can be caught, sold and consumed. Mountains, rivers and underwater cavern systems also allow for access to clean water. The resources provided by their environment offer a solid base for economic viability. Since electricity is so expensive on the island, many Puerto Ricans don't use AC in their homes and dry their clothes on clothing lines. There has also been a large movement toward solar power and microgrids as a source of energy. In these ways, Puerto Ricans are reducing their carbon footprint and helping to safeguard their environment i.e. environmental protection. Puerto Rico’s long running colonial status and recent events such as Hurricane Maria have spurred activism and mass political movements that have been pivotal in creating a strong social conscious amongst the people. The exploitation enacted upon Puerto Rico by the United States has brought residents of the island together and forged a culture of social equity and national pride. If Puerto Rico’s resiliency/sovereignty movement was granted more support and encouragement from groups within the states they could quickly rise to becoming a global leader in sustainable development

-Gabriela Miranda-Diaz


Founder's Note