Challenging Injustice, Advancing Human Rights

The Lowlander Center Receives UUSC 2017 Innovation Fellowship Award

Award Will Support a Human-Rights Based Approach to Climate-Forced Resettlement

Award Will Support a Human-Rights Based
Approach to Climate-Forced Resettlement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                     Ira Arlook c: 202-258-5437
WEDNESDAY, July 5, 2017                                                                                               

CAMBRIDGE, Mass: The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) has awarded the third Human Rights Innovation Fellowship to the Lowlander Center. The Lowlander Center is a non-profit organization based in the bayous of Louisiana dedicated to finding community-based solutions for “living with an ever-changing coastline and land loss to climate change while visioning a future that builds capacity and resilience for place and people.”

“We are thrilled to announce the Lowlander Center as our 2017 Innovation Fellow,” UUSC’s researcher, Amber Moulton, said. “The Lowlander Center and the communities it works with are on the front lines of this issue and are dedicated to supporting the development of grassroots, sustainable solutions. We are humbled to count them among our partners and look forward to collaborating in the year ahead.”

The fellowship was awarded to Lowlander Center to implement an adaptation tool they developed for communities who are faced with the difficult decision to relocate in the face of climate-induced land erosion and other environmental challenges. The tool is a “best-practice” matrix that includes human rights tenets like the right to an adequate standard of living and the rights of indigenous peoples to be actively involved in the development of social programs that affect them. It also includes sound environmental practices that are integrated into the community’s re-development plans, like the use of native plant species, renewable energy sources like passive solar heating and cooling, sustainability practices like rainwater catchment, and much more. The Lowlander Center is also hoping to pilot innovative solutions that would help communities secure land, including through community land trusts and supporting those who must resettle to be empowered to lead their resettlement – agency for individuals, families, and communities.

Currently, the Lowlander Center is working with the Isle de Jean Charles community, most of whom are descended from the Biloxi, Chitimacha, and Choctaw tribes, to develop a resettlement plan for Isle de Jean Charles. The Louisiana island has lost 98% of its land and most of its population to rising sea levels. The human-rights based adaptation matrix is central to their relocation planning.

“It is essential that the rights of humans and the environment be central to the resettlement of communities,” said Kristina Peterson, the Lowlander Center’s Director and Facilitator. “If we are to live into a future that will provide sustainability for this earthly family, human and non-human, we will have to find different ways of organization and living. We hope that we can contribute one small piece to this process with our work and this grant. We are honored and humbled.”


The UUSC Human Rights Innovation Fellowship is a one-year $25,000 grant, awarded to individuals or organizations, designed to bring about systemic change by creating, nurturing, or spreading an innovation in human rights. For this year’s theme, UUSC invited applications from individuals or organizations working on innovative and rights-based approaches for communities who face the prospects of internal or cross-border displacement due to climate change.


  • The Lowlander Center: Kristina Peterson, Director and Facilitator, 304-266-2517
  • UUSC: Salote Soqo, Program Leader for Environmental Justice & Climate Action, 617-301-4364