Home Institution

University of San Diego

Publication Date

Spring 2023

Program Name

Portugal: Sustainability and Environmental Justice


Despite the relatively small population of 8,000 occupants and the minimal international recognition of the Island of Príncipe, located off of the Gulf of Guinea on the Western Coast of Central Africa, the region has increasingly become a leading example of sustainable practices to be taken on a global scale in the near future to combat our current climate crisis. This case study explores the sustainable practices that Príncipe has learned to embrace under the leadership of Portuguese conservation biologist and project manager for the NGO Fundação Príncipe, Estrela Matilde. Estrela integrates social, cultural, and environmental conservation to align with the United Nations’ definition of sustainability, “meeting the needs of the present while simultaneously taking into consideration the state of future generations” (UN, n.d.). This study first explores secondary research on the Tropical Island, often referred to as a ‘desolate paradise’ with a highly vibrant ecosystem and a uniquely large number of endemic plant and animal species including the Príncipe Starling and Speirop birds as well as five of the seven endangered types of sea turtles; The Green Turtle, Olive Ridley, Hawksbill, Leatherback and the Loggerhead (Africa's Eden, n.d.). It then incorporates new, primary data through a focused interview with Estela to explore an aspect of her identity that has shaped her reality which literature has largely lacked to consider; the influence and, in turn, the challenges that she has experienced as a female leader in a society built on deep-rooted patriarchal narratives. This study aims to reach beyond merely dissecting Estrela’s sustainable agenda on the Island, but to reveal her experience and open a space for other females to relate on similar issues of being seen, being heard, and being valued in society today.


Environmental Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Human Ecology | Leadership | Natural Resources and Conservation | Sustainability | Women's Studies


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