Corentin de Chatelperron: low-tech for a sustainable future – UNESCO

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After working in sustainable tourism alongside his studies, Corentin moved to Bangladesh in 2009 to work at the Taratari shipyard to help produce fibreglass composite boats. There, the young engineer had the idea of replacing the fibreglass material – extremely polluting to produce, expensive and imported – with jute fibre, a natural resource local to Bangladesh and India. Using 40% jute composite and 60% glass composite, he built the first boat to incorporate jute and set off on a 6-month adventure at sea from Bangladesh to France. This pivotal journey allowed him to demonstrate the potential of his research and launch the Jute Lab research project. In 2013, thanks to the Jute Lab’s valuable research, Corentin and his team took inspiration from Bengali sampans and built the Gold of Bengal… the first sailboat in the world built from a composite 100% reinforced with natural fibres.   
It was on board the Gold of Bengal that his interest in low-tech fully ignited. During a six-month trip to the Bay of Bengal to test the resistance of the jute fibre-based material, he challenged himself to survive using low-tech systems, which are simple, inexpensive and energy efficient. 
Since then, Corentin has been dedicating his life to finding, testing and sharing low-tech solutions far and wide. Why is low-tech so important for the planet? Low-technology methods re-focus on the essential, opting for the simplest and least technologically intense approach to ensure needs are met. It’s sustainable in both senses of the word, minimising the consumption of energy and resources, and maintaining functionable durability. Promoting collective resilience, accessibility and empowerment, low-tech is inexpensive and able to be repaired and maintained by users. Corentin and his team realised that many low-tech initiatives were spontaneously emerging across the world thanks to individual and collective action, so they decided to propel the movement. The founding of the Low-Tech Lab in 2013 sparked a series of expeditions testing low-tech in different contexts, and programmes aimed at sharing low-tech methods.  
In 2023, Corentin de Chatelperron joins the UNESCO Green Citizens initiative as a Pathfinder. Through his expeditions to test and share low-tech innovations in different contexts worldwide, he will support the initiative and its projects by bringing back stories, potential projects and valuable discoveries that highlight citizen action for the planet. 
UNESCO Green Citizens is also partnering with Corentin’s Arte series about his experiment “Biosphère du désert” (Desert Biosphere) with Caroline Pultz, about living sustainably using low-tech innovations. This particular experiment started on board the 45-foot catamaran Nomade des Mers (Sea Nomad), where Corentin and his team travelled the world to meet inventors for 7 years, to identify low-tech innovations on each continent, test them, document them and distribute them. Using these findings, Corentin and Belgian designer Caroline Pultz lived in Baja California, Mexico for 4 months to test a sustainable and desirable way of living. Their film and web series will document this experience, sharing their low-tech knowledge and findings with everyone. UNESCO Green Citizens is excited to partner with this film to support Corentin in spreading his invaluable sustainability insights and know-how with as wide an audience as possible. Keep an eye on the UNESCO Green Citizens page for news about the series!


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