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Conservation Efforts in Nicaragua Shed Portable Light on the Nation’s Pacific Coast

Unique solar technology aids Paso Pacifico in protecting endangered sea turtles

Submitted by: Paso Pacifico

Categories: Environment, Clean Technology

Posted: Oct 22, 2009 – 11:47 AM EST


NICARAGUA, Oct. 22 /CSRwire/ - It was a chance meeting at PopTech’s annual innovation conference two years ago that sparked collaboration between California-based NGO Paso Pacífico and the Portable Light Project. At the event, Paso Pacífico Executive Director, Dr. Sarah Otterstrom, and Portable Light Project founder, Sheila Kennedy, met for the first time and considered the implications that the project's simple, solar-powered textiles could have on Paso Pacifico's conservation efforts in Nicaragua.

Now, just as PopTech convenes again this week, Paso Pacífico announces its launch of Portable Light technology to support the protection of endangered sea turtles and to advance young women as environmental leaders in Nicaragua.

While Portable Light Project systems have been used to benefit social and human health causes in rural areas of Mexico and Africa, Paso Pacifico takes the technology in a new direction. Utilizing locally made bags that incorporate the pliable, light-producing solar panels, the lights enable communities to protect wildlife, and also empower women in sustainable tourism and education. Sheila Kennedy notes, "This is a brilliant three-in-one design that demonstrates how mobile, clean energy can enable education, local economic development, and mitigate climate change."

Paso Pacifico’s community rangers patrol sea turtle nesting beaches using a Portable Light equipped with a red light adapter designed by Kennedy and her team. In addition to illuminating the darkness, the bags solve a number of challenges that the rangers face. Each bag has the ability to charge cell phones, which allow those on patrol to communicate with each other and local authorities. Their use of renewable energy also eliminates wasted batteries, while providing a durable and sustainable safety measure to rangers working at night. With Portable Lights, local rangers can patrol deserted beaches, deterring poachers who would otherwise devastate imperiled species such as the Hawksbill turtle.

Paso Pacífico also aims to empower young women and girls who have historically been excluded from opportunities for environmental leadership. Paso Pacifico is providing training to young women to work as eco-tourism guides. Portable light will motivate and empower these guides as they lead sea turtle and other evening tours.

Women and girls participating in Paso Pacifico environmental education programs are also burdened with many household chores and are only able to study in the evenings. Portable Lights will be given to young girls who are eager to progress in their learning, but who live in areas without electricity. This initiative to empower women while mitigating climate change is part of the Paso Pacifico Commitment announced at the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative by Nobel Laureate Mohammed Yunus.

Kennedy summed it up when she said, "Individually owned, each bag is a portable clean power platform which expands the impacts of local conservation, that charges cell phones, provides renewable light at night for community based education and builds approaches to conservation that empower women in resource protection and sustainable enterprise development."

Paso Pacífico is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Ventura, California that works to protect Central America’s Pacific slope ecosystems. The non-profit implements projects in environmental education, sustainable agriculture, forest restoration and wildlife conservation. For more information, visit www.pasopacifico.or

The Portable Light Project enables the world’s poorest people to create and own solar textiles, providing clean energy and light to improve education, health care and economic development, while strengthening the local craft traditions of diverse cultures and global regions. For more information, visit www.portablelight.org and to view a video of Portable Lights visit http://blip.tv/play/AfmVbI7+Bg

For more information, please contact:

Wendy Purnell Communications, Paso Pacifico
Phone: 1-805-643-7044
Phone 2: 206-310-2181
Fax: 805-643-7044
Sheila Kennedy Founder, Portable Light Project
Phone: 1-617-442-0800


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