Seaweed: Trend, Nuisance, or Development Solution

Multiple Accelerator Lab teams at UNDP are exploring the uses and effects of seaweed as useful resource for sustainable development solutions. Photo: Unsplash

The kelp we need

Like the tangled tentacles of seaweed itself, we are witnessing a cluster form within the UNDP Accelerator Lab Network around creating shared understanding of seaweed’s impact on communities. Labs are mapping its applications and pushing the boundaries of the potential of certain species to drive environmental, social and economic impact.

When seaweed becomes a threat

Sargassum seaweed, pictured here washed ashore, is causing ecological and health issues, as well as impacting tourism in several countries worldwide. Photo: Unsplash
UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean’s Blue Lab
The Mimosa Pigra plant, an invasive species found abundantly in Zambia’s Kafue River, could be harvested and repurposed by local communities into eco-friendly energy briquettes.

Beyond the Sea

Invasive species can also disrupt river ecosystems in landlocked countries, like the Mimosa Pigra weed creating issues in Zambia’s Kafue River. Introduction of the fast-growing weed has degraded water quality and the natural environment of the river, affecting fisheries and tourism activities.

Traditional knowledge to fuel modern breakthroughs?

Seaweed and aquatic plants are omni-present in the lives of coastal and riverine communities. Their multitude of uses have been harnessed by indigenous people long before recent worldwide popularity.

Getting smarter about seaweed

Seaweed, seagrass and aquatic plants are just one such “cluster” micro-issue our labs are teaming up to tackle. In 2020, the UNDP Accelerator Lab Network is busy testing and refining tools and methods, creating space for action and reflection on evolving development challenges. Aspects of waste management, energy, and youth employment have also attracted a clustered approach across countries and regions.

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UNDP Accelerator Labs

UNDP Accelerator Labs

Building the world’s largest learning network around development challenges. 91 Labs in 115 countries. http://acceleratorlabs.undp.org/