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Resilient Nomads

A film featuring environmental connection and human resilience highlighting 17 real world solutions to inspire the SDGs implementation.

Photo of Nicole De Paula
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"Resilient Nomads" is a documentary featuring 17 solutions that represent the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which shape the development agenda of the entire planet for the next 15 years. The goal is to inspire behavioral change, one of the most challenging obstacles for effective implementation of the SDGs.  

For decades, experts have been acting in silos when it comes to the so-called sustainable development. However, the new SDGs represent a promise towards more integrated policies related to development that are fully aware of the need to incorporate environmental aspects to social and economic policies and vice-versa. 

Facts and numbers, unfortunately, have been failing to drive action at the speed that our planet needs. Environmental degradation continues to put our lives at risk at an alarming rate. This shows why there is an urgent necessity to not only scale up practical solutions on the ground but also to seriously take into account the need to improve knowledge sharing beyond the usual suspects: the development community practitioners. 

The negative effects of globalisation have been causing greater social inequality, including in the developed world, which contributes to short term thinking and the rise of political populism. The documentary "Resilient Nomads" is an attempt to connect the minds and hearts of people showcasing real leadership, entrepreneurship, and concrete examples of solutions representing the 17 themes of the sustainable development goals.

The project believes that art enhances social skills, cultural capital and creativity- all essential to overcome the most pressing global challenges of our times. 

Explain your idea

Considered a "passport to a healthier planet," the movie aims to focus only on solutions implemented by local communities and actors located in the "South," mainly Africa, Asia and Latin America. With this framing, we expect to demonstrate the work of social and environmental heroes in parts of the world that are frequently neglected and unknown. The consequence of this poor knowledge is the rise of pessimism and human disconnection, as well as a normative divide when it comes to negotiations of sustainable development issues, especially at the international level. It is well proven today that many development projects fail to leave their pilot stages. The usual explanation for this is the lack of social engagement and communication across all implementing actors and the direct project beneficiaries, generally the most vulnerable populations. One illustrative example can be found in the field of wildlife conservation. For decades, conservationists have been proposing solutions for wildlife preservation ignoring local populations and their difficulties to guarantee sustainable livelihoods. Today, ideas that overcome the human and wildlife conflict have greater chances of succeeding. Simple methods, such as electric fences in protected areas in Africa that avoid the invasion of elephants in residential areas, demonstrate the importance of caring for people's livelihoods when trying to protect endangered species. The film will select 17 countries that showcase ongoing real world solutions reflecting the 17 themes of the sustainable development goals, demonstrating its full synergy with peace, prosperity and planet approach. This documentary is just the first step towards an open knowledge platform featuring actors from the developing world. Divided in three phases, the first year is dedicated to research and production of the documentary in 17 countries located in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The project estimates around US$20,000 per SDG during the production phase. The second phase is dedicated to post-production, which will edit and format the material in a creative, heartfelt and powerful visual style. We estimate around US$30,000 to conclude the final product. The second phase of the project is to build a platform where this knowledge can be didactically accessed and where citizens can be inspired to volunteer, learn and share their experiences. The platform should concentrate on leadership examples of areas considered vulnerable. For instance, urban adaptation solutions to climate change in Copenhagen is not a good case study for this project. We are mostly interested in solutions that are supporting vulnerable communities through their own eyes. The final phase (third year) will develop training in the selected countries to teach filming techniques to young leaders. The project will plant the seeds of hope through capacity building and entrepreneurship in developing countries.

Who Benefits?

How do we inspire change in a deeply diverse world in terms of values, resources and geography? As professionals working with sustainable development for decades, it is no surprise that our work has been failing to address the vulnerabilities of local communities. Scientific arrogance is often a barrier to more authentic knowledge exchange between those in need of help and those perceived as "solution holders." The film will research and feature successful sustainable development solutions being implemented by the "South." Two categories of beneficiaries are identified. First, the film will be a free tool for educators and regular citizens that can be used to diffuse information on the SDGs. Second, practitioners will be more aware of the need to improve the communication of their own scientific findings. This can lead to improved networks and new communities of practices that are concerned with the synergies between peace, prosperity and environmental protection.

How is your idea unique?

One image is more powerful than a 1000 words. This proposal bets on powerful visual tools to deepen human connection and our sense of self-awareness. It's a fact that our world is heading towards more and more visual tools of communication and that behavioral change must be at the top of any solution aiming to a more prosperous and healthier planet. The project can be considered unique because of its broad outreach, highly creative output, future sustainability through capacity building and ample opportunity to encourage human connections and greater empathy, key ingredients for social change. In short, the film (followed by a knowledge platform and series of trainings in 17 countries) will: - Create an avenue of cooperation without appearing too scholarly; - Provide a channel for civic engagement while fostering collective action in vulnerable regions; - Build a source of pride among neglected populations; - Provide technical knowledge on the SDGs and popularize them.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

I am Nicole de Paula, a passionate researcher, networker and traveler who could be considered a resilient nomad! I have been working for more than a decade with sustainable development issues and exploring ways to enhance the communication of complex scientific themes to a common citizen. As the Executive Director of Global Health Asia Institute, a think tank based in Bangkok and hosted by the Public Health Faculty of the Mahidol University, my mission, together with my team, is to scale up solutions for a healthier planet while ensuring that they are compatible with the realities of the most vulnerable communities and countries. My love for documentaries has evolved into actual short film production under the United Nations context, opening a wide range of opportunities to improve science communication. As a global citizen, my vast international experience has taught me how different perceptions of sustainability can lead to failing solutions and replication of efforts. Convinced about the need of deep engagement of regular citizens towards a more sustainable world, I am advocating for more efficient tools of communication in a era of blurred global leadership and politicisation of science. This project would be implemented through my organization and supported by key experienced scholars, including those engaged with the Planetary Health Alliance, a new consortium hosted by the Harvard University, which aims to advance the notion of "planetary health." I hold a Ph.D. in International Relations from Sciences Po Paris and was awarded the "young researcher prize" from the Treilles Foundation. I am a non-resident fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations (CTR) at the Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), Washington D.C. In 2010, I was also awarded a fellowship to study at the London School of Economics and Political Science as part of the Global Public Policy Network (GPPN). In addition, I have worked on the European research project RAMSES, which aims to deliver quantified evidence of the impacts of climate change and the costs and benefits of a wide range of adaptation measures, focusing on cities. Previously, I was part of the International Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (Iddri), as well as for the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. There, I assisted the Principal Officer of the Implementation and technical Support Division to advance the Business and Biodiversity Program. I hold two M.A degrees in International relations, one from the Pontificia Universidade Catolica de Sao Paulo (PUC-SP) and the other from Sciences Po Paris. I am originally from Brazil, but have lived in France, the US, the UK, Thailand and traveled to over 50 countries.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered social enterprise.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kate Rushton

HI Nicole!

Thank you for sharing the film project. Would you tell me more about the key players involved in the project? Do you have a link to previous film projects you have worked on e.g. 'short film production under the United Nations context'? Is this Global Health Asia Institute website -

Photo of Nicole De Paula

Hi Kate!
Thank you so much for checking out our idea! Indeed, that's our website, which is more about our work as a "think tank".
On our Facebook page you can see one video that talks about a Stress Tolerant Rice Variety (STRV) in Cambodia that helps coping with droughts and adapt to climate change.
Check this out here:
My videos involving the UN system can be found:
There are many about the UN climate conference, UN biodiversity meetings, wildlife, energy, islands coalitions, renewable energy, sustainable cities, multilateral funding agencies.
The idea is to have a small research team that would assist the filmmaker and myself with the selection of the key case studies. My organization collaborates with international networks, such as the Health Planetary Alliance hosted by Harvard, and the idea is to join forces with them, as well as with international organizations. They could include the World Bank, which I collaborate with at the moment on wildlife projects in Africa, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), other UN agencies, and countries that feel interested. I have a pre-selected list that I could share later. More importantly, we want to engage with local communities in the regions that I mentions: Africa, Latin America and Asia. I can picture NGOs and associations being part of the initiative.
Of course, we have a list of experienced filmmakers involved in the project that usually collaborates with me. Do you have any other players in mind?
Thanks once again for your question!