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Volunteering online for climate change mitigation

13 UN Online Volunteers supported the NGO Fundacion Desarollo y Ambiente on a research project to predict the effects of climate change

14 Jan 2016

For more than two years, 13 UN Online Volunteers supported the Fundacion Desarollo y Ambiente (FUNDA) on a research project that analyzes, categorizes and maps types of vegetation and landscape to predict the effects of climate change. The Colombian NGO focuses on studying the relationship between vegetation types and environment in various regions of the country, with the aim of making this research available to the government and inform national environmental policies regarding conservation and biodiversity, climate change mitigation, land use regulation, and landslide and flood control.

Totaling 5,918 hours of work, the volunteers’ contribution consisted of creating a database for types of vegetation and topography in the Caribbean, Orinoco and Páramo regions of Colombia, verifying the species’ botanical names, georeferencing the information using Excel and ArcGIS, and mapping the correlation of vegetation, climate, and geomorphological processes. 

After training the volunteers on the research approach, Jaime Bernal-Hadad from FUNDA set up working groups as well as weekly Skype meetings for tracking the team’s progress and assigning new tasks. “I wish to express my gratitude and appreciation for the work undertaken by each online volunteer, as well for their strong commitment and professionalism. The interaction between them is one that would be expected in any solid research group,” he says.

The Team

  • Adriana Parra


    Environmental Engineer with a Master's degree in Geoscience

    “I worked on a database of vegetation types in Excel, and georeferenced environmental information using ArcGIS. The online collaboration was very well organized and efficient.”

  • Albita Roa


    Biologist with a Master’s in Management of Protected Areas and Eco-Regional Development

    “My task was the verification of scientific names of species from a certain region. Online volunteering helped me build such habits as online team work, self-learning, planning and commitment.”

  • Diana Carolina Borda

    Colombia / Canada

    Master’s student in Geography, specializing in Geographical Information Systems, cadastral surveying and geodetics

    “Sometimes we leave our countries looking for new opportunities, but we want to come back and see our country and our people moving forward. Supporting this project enriches that social cause.”

  • Yanez Antonio Avila


    Environmental Engineer

    “I supported the consolidation of secondary information about vegetation types. Online volunteering is a great opportunity to start growing professionally, it is an experience where you learn from the organizations we collaborate with as well as from other members of the volunteer team.”