The Sustainability Laboratory

A Reflection on Sustainability for La Palma After the Tajogaite Volcano Crisis

A Reflection on Sustainability for La Palma After the Tajogaite Volcano Crisis

Wednesday, January 31, 2024
1:00pm EST
A presentation by The Sustainability Laboratory in collaboration with the Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the Universidad de La Laguna.
The event will be conducted in Spanish but a video recording with English transcription will be made available in the near future.


Throughout the month of July 2023, the Global Sustainability Fellows (GSF) program was developed on the island of La Palma. Conceived by Dr. Michael Ben-Eli, the GSF is an intensive postgraduate educational initiative of The Sustainability Laboratory (The Lab), a nonprofit organization based in New York. The 2023 GSF program cohort consisted of sixteen international fellows and attracted the participation of close to fifty experts and professionals from the Canary Islands as well as faculty from The Lab.

The GSF, designed to inspire, prepare and mobilize new leaders in sustainability, focuses on addressing the urgent sustainability issues facing the planet, promoting as a methodology system thinking, collaborative and interdisciplinary approaches that combine theoretical orientation and an intense practical learning component based on international exposure and local fieldwork—as demonstrated on the island of La Palma.

The report “Envisioning La Palma: Creating a Sustainable Future for the Island”, is the synthesis of the work carried out and the exposition of its vision and main lines, considering the circumstances arising from the crisis of the Tajogaite volcano. It contains a vision of the potential of La Palma, perceived through the eyes of the international fellows with the application of The Lab’s characteristic approach. In this process, dimensions are integrated from the most external material systems: water, energy and infrastructure, the economic, socio-cultural, and environmental aspects, to the more subtle dimensions of the spiritual and intimate level of the island.

Click to Download Report:  “Envisioning La Palma” in      ENGLISH      or         SPANISH


Dr. Michael Ben-Eli

Founder of The Sustainability Laboratory, Dr. Michael Ben-Eli is a pioneer in the applications of systems thinking and cybernetics, and its relationship with sustainability. He holds a PhD from the Institute of Cybernetics, Brunel University, Oxbridge, UK, and led the development of the laboratory as a network of research, development and education activity centres in different ecological zones. In 2016, Dr. Ben-Eli was inducted into the International Green Industry Hall of Fame and received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Vanessa Armendáriz

Director of the Global Sustainability Fellows program and Professor at The Sustainability Laboratory, Vanessa has extensive experience working on public policy and environmental design issues with various international organizations. She holds a joint Master’s degree in Systems Dynamics from the University of Bergen, Norway, and the University of Nova de Lisboa, Portugal, as well as an MBA from Radbound University, the Netherlands.

a lady with dark hairPaula Clemente Abad

A participant in the 2023 Global Sustainability Fellows in La Palma, Paula is a biotechnologist and sustainability enthusiast. She graduated with distinction, earning an MSc in Biodiversity, Wildlife and Ecosystem Health from the University of Edinburgh. Her experience spans roles in both the aviation sector and molecular research and biology at the National Institute of Medical Research in London. Her unique perspective has been shaped by her numerous international experiences, with the last nine years residing in the United Arab Emirates.

Carmelo J. LeonCarmelo J. León

Professor of Applied Studies and Director of the UNESCO Chair in Tourism and Sustainable Economic Development, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. He was Director of Instituto Tides from its foundation in 2010 until 2022, and his work focuses on environmental and tourism socioeconomics.

man in a white shirtCarlos Fernández

Carlos holds a PhD in Economics and is a professor in the Department of Applied Economics at the University of La Laguna (ULL). He is a member of the CajaCanarias-Ashotel-ULL Chair of Tourism and has worked in the field of Local Development, having been director of Rural Development programs, which includes promotion of the Social Economy and various initiatives related to training, employment, and approaches under the gender perspective. He researches in the field of territorial and local development, innovation and creation of tourism products, tourism economics and the labor market. In 2017, Carlos was awarded the Tourism Excellence Award by the Government of the Canary Islands.