Using natural intelligence as a resource to combat climate change - An exhibit in the national museum of Costa Rica

Man loaded with a sack jumping over a river
Visitors of the museum playing computer game

Picture: UICN Mesoamérica e Iniciativa Caribe

It is the key to standing up to the impacts of climate change: our natural human intelligence! It is not about whether homo sapiens has it; the question is rather how and for what purpose a person can use it!

The 'Natural Intelligence' exhibition at the national museum in Costa Rica bridges local knowledge, art and science. Using various media, it focuses on nature in all its genius, but also in view of its vulnerability. Conversely, it shows the human being with its ability to adapt to both its environment and conditions. The message is clear: if we want to save nature and thus ourselves, natural intelligence can help us confront the effects of climate change.

The twenty exhibits offer a fascinating mix. For example, the comic-based video game Duwàlök (external, Spanish) allows people of all ages to train their natural intelligence in the light of a changed climate. There is also the seating element made of recycled materials, which can be formed into 360 different shapes while offering incredible comfort. A butterfly house with extremely high humidity and heat enables the visitor to experience first-hand the adjustment to the weather changes in the tropics. A tree made of cardboard with filigree roots reaching towards clean water symbolises the forests of Mesoamerica, which are in need of protection.

The exhibition in the National Museum in San José is part of a very inclusive project by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on developing regionally adapted ecosystem-based adaptation in Mesoamerica. The International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Environment Ministry has been supporting this project with approx. EUR 2.5 million over its course from 2010 to the end of 2013. The project focuses on climate change and water management, as access to transboundary water resources and water quality are of central importance to the population in this region. It is a successful project in which numerous adaptation and capacity-building measures as well as consultative/political decision-making processes were implemented in and between five countries.

The exhibit has also been a success in the national museum of Costa Rica. With around 1,000 visitors in only three months, it was a highlight of 2013 for the museum. In addition, people from around the world can also gain virtual insight into our natural intelligence and the corresponding exhibition through its Facebook page (external, Spanish), which is well worth a visit.