Film: Sustainable Maritime Transport in the Marshall Islands

A Vision is Turning into Reality

The people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) have been renowned for their superior boat building and sailing skills for centuries. They frequently traversed between their atolls on large offshore canoes known as Walap, some of which were as long as 100 feet. The lagoons of their low-lying coral atolls were adorned with sails from smaller outrigger canoe designs, facilitating rapid transportation within the lagoon, as well as activities such as food gathering and fishing. The programme Waan Aelõñ in Majel (WAM), dedicated to empowering young people by providing them with skills for a sustainable future, along with the Low Carbon Sea Transport project is reviving traditional knowledge through the integration of modern technology.

The ambitious goals of the Marshall Islands in the sea transport sector have become the main driver and motivation for the project to pursue and to transition towards a low carbon fleet for the RMI for transport inside the lagoons and between atolls. During the implementation of the project, it became clear that traditional boatbuilding skills are disappearing in the RMI and that the essential skills are much needed to create a shift to sustainable sea transport in the country. At WAM, the project organised four boatbuilding workshops with 16 Marshallese trained in traditional canoe building skills and energy efficient technology was introduced. Cost efficient and sustainable boatbuilding methods were trained and learned.

Two prototypes were developed in this context: the WAM Catamaran and a Harry Proa that combine aspects of Marshallese traditional canoes and modern building techniques. Currently, two of these prototypes are being tested and utilized in various atolls in the Marshall Islands.

This video tells the story of these activities and the uses for these prototypes.

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More Information

The Low Carbon Sea Transport Project is based in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. It is funded through the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV).

Boat in the waters of the Marshall Islands ©Raffael Held, GIZ