Strengthening Leadership

Indigenous communities in the rainforest face frequent threats to their homes and livelihoods from land invasions, illegal resource extraction, and the undermining of their rights at the local and national levels. When faced with such challenges, these communities often lack the information and resources necessary to exercise their rights and advocate on their own behalf. At the same time, indigenous peoples are also increasingly managing health, education, and development initiatives for their communities. To effectively combat these threats while seizing upon these new opportunities, indigenous groups need strong and effective leaders as well as robust and culturally appropriate processes and local institutions.

Challenges:

  • In spite of international declarations in their favor, notably the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, indigenous peoples are often not respected, nor even recognized, as rights holders.
  • Traditional indigenous governance practices and structures are often not respected by local and national authorities, and in many cases have been weakened by outside pressures.
  • Many indigenous leaders are not aware of their rights and do not have the technical or professional skills necessary to defend their rights and advocate nationally on behalf of their communities.
  • Representative indigenous organizations are often new and under-resourced, in terms of staff, expertise, and funding.

Our Response:
  • Providing technical support, legal guidance, and funding for community training workshops. This training helps build stronger and more autonomous local organizations and enables leaders to effectively represent their communities’ interests.
  • Developing and distributing practical training tools. These customized resources help local leaders build administratively and financially strong organizations that are capable of managing social and economic development projects on their lands.
  • Assisting communities in formalizing their traditional governance practices to ensure that they are acknowledged and respected by local and national authorities.