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Founded in 2003, the Associação Bebô Xirin do Bacajá is a non-profit Indigenous organization representing the Xikrin People of the Trincheira Bacajá Indigenous Land. A women-led initiative that sustainably promotes the Babassu coconut oil supply chain and handicrafts as an economic alternative for the Xikrin people. This project is improving the quality of life and social well-being of the Indigenous communities at the same time that it protects the lands from deforestation.

The association is composed of men and women from all villages and acts as a mother association of the Trincheira-Bacajá Indigenous Land. Their work aims to incorporate all the villages in the Xikrin territory and has made efforts in this direction with the approval of projects of collective interest such as the production and sale of handcrafted items or babassu coconut oil produced by women, joint actions for territorial monitoring, strengthening of traditional cultural practices and dissemination of information for political impact with the objective of protecting social and territorial rights.


Spearheading the concept of the “Organic Aimak” (community or district), BIO-KG has promoted the transition of agriculture in rural and mountain communities to organic-only production in a landscape-level approach. Revitalizing the connection with Mother Earth in the face of depleted soils, this community organization has inspired bottom-up processes leading to village decisions to form “organic districts” based on the removal of chemical fertilizers, use of traditional knowledge and practices, farmer-to-farmer field schools, and saving of seed varieties suitable for variable climatic conditions. Over 1,000 farmers have been certified as growers of organic produce. Ten organic aimaks have been created, six of which are led by women. The model has taken root in Kyrgyzstan, and BIO-KG played an instrumental role in the government’s commitment to transition to organic agriculture nationwide within a decade.


A community-based enterprise operating around the Dja Biosphere Reserve in southern Cameroon, Tropical Forest and Rural Development is empowering Indigenous communities through cocoa-based agroforestry value chains and the collection of moabi, wild mango and other fruits. The group has planted over 70,000 trees for production and provides training in collection quality standards to obtain higher prices for food and cosmetic products. Agreements between Indigenous women collectors and government agencies secure access and use rights in the Reserve. The model’s viability is proven through the avoidance of deforestation and a reduction in poaching in the communities. The initiative focuses on the economic inclusion of several Indigenous groups, some of them pursuing traditional semi-nomadic lifestyles, through access to education, the registration of community businesses, and jobs for 500 women collectors and 300 cacao producers. Tropical Forest and Rural Development maintains partnerships with several food and cosmetics wholesalers.


Part of a coalition of agricultural unions and farmer groups in Niger, these two farmer unions have improved food security for over 5,000 members, more than half of which are women, through participatory variety development, the production and marketing of crop varieties, and agroecological practices. Guiding the work of researchers to support them, the unions have conducted participatory processes to diversify their food production including millet, sorghum, and legumes varieties, increasing community resilience to a variable and warming climate. The unions support their members to implement organic agriculture, process their crops for local value addition, and fight a crop pest biologically. 1,500 hectares of degraded areas have been restored for cultivation, and 22,000 hectares of land have been greened through assisted natural regeneration, protecting against erosion and improving soil fertility and water retention.


This 1,700-member cooperative, managed and run entirely by Indigenous people from the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in Southern India, has improved livelihoods across 147 villages by processing and marketing a diverse range of forest products and crops. Through local value addition, members earn premium prices on a wide range of products including those collected sustainably from the Reserve such as honey, soap nuts and berries, phoenix leaves and others, as well as those cultivated organically such as coffee, pepper, silk cotton, cereals, spices, fruits, and many others. Shareholders regularly monitor harvesting and agricultural practices to ensure product quality and prevent overuse of resources. The company has a gender-balanced membership and a women majority among its employees, and provides hands-on training for shareholders and social enterprises across the region.


Snehakunja Trust has protected sensitive wetland and coastal ecosystems in the Western Ghats and the Karnataka coast for 45 years. With a focus on community-based restoration and conservation, this organization provides essential solutions to the climate crisis. It has supported hundreds of self-help groups and village forest committees to sustainably manage resources based on traditional knowledge, implement natural farming techniques, use clean energy, promote entrepreneurship, and provide community health services. The restoration and protection of freshwater swamps and evergreen forests safeguards endangered species, keeps significant carbon sinks intact, and maintains critical aquifers for Indigenous communities. Restoring 375 hectares of mangroves, Snehakunja Trust is currently piloting the first blue carbon project in India.


This group of young women and men is addressing bleak perspectives for rural youth in the Bolivian Amazon by improving economic opportunities while combating the effects of a warming climate. AJORA has created jobs in sustainable agroforestry, including beekeeping and award-winning cacao production. With a focus on inclusive and gender-balanced decision-making, the group has cultivated a sense of optimism and belonging in vulnerable communities. Wildfires have been reduced through the revival of traditional fire management practices. The restoration of degraded areas has improved soil fertility and water availability in the community.


This community network of over 4,600 families in Brazil’s Cerrado ecoregion exemplifies the sustainable use of a vulnerable ecosystem at large scale. CoopCerrado works with smallholders in a “farmer-to-farmer” method to sustainably harvest and process fruits, plants and seeds of the Cerrado, commercializing dozens of different certified organic products with creative marketing, elevating both the prestige of Cerrado products and local livelihoods for 26,000 people. Community monitoring prevents overharvesting, while restoration activities improve degraded ecosystems. The network manages an area of 124,000 hectares for sustainable use and was involved in the creation of two sustainable-use reserves. The success of the initiative in protecting biodiversity, addressing the climate crisis, and improving local livelihoods has led to its replication in five Brazilian states, showing the impact of community-based management and collective marketing.


The Asociación de Mujeres Indígenas del Territorio Cabécar Kábata Könana brings together Indigenous women in Costa Rica’s Talamanca region to promote the use of traditional practices and knowledge for food security and medicinal purposes, improve women’s leadership and Indigenous rights, and protect the surrounding forest. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, the group quickly established a virtual market on social media to trade and share food during the closure of regular markets. The association also trains women in rotational and regenerative agroforestry, and promotes the use of local native seed varieties and traditional medicinal plants, improving community resilience in the face of climate warming.


Deep in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, the Kichwa people of Sarayaku are leading Indigenous rights advocacy, protecting their ancestral territory and forest, and pursuing a sustainable lifestyle that sees nature not merely as resource but is in line with Indigenous wisdom. The group has won legal battles to shield their 133,000-hectare territory from oil exploitation, logging, and road construction. Facing further industrial development pressures, the group is promoting the concept of “Kawsak Sacha” (“Living Forest”) as a new category of protected area under Indigenous leadership, which also assigns legal rights to the forest. Kawsak Sacha guides forest management policies like sustainable hunting and fishing, crop production, housing, transportation, and traditional medicine.


In a 34-year effort, Grupo Ecológico Sierra Gorda IAP has united the 638 communities of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve in the State of Querétaro to promote their economic and social development alongside an intact and thriving ecosystem. A leader in community-based climate change mitigation and adaptation, the organization has driven the establishment of a state-funded carbon footprint mechanism, incentivizing landowners for climate-friendly land use including regenerative agriculture. The group is restoring 40,000 hectares of degraded ecosystems. A network of social enterprises and environmental education complements an integrated approach to foment local community ownership.


In a remote part of the Congo Basin, Vie Sauvage has pioneered a holistic model for community development, conservation, and peace-building, helping create and manage a 4,875 square kilometer reserve for the bonobo (a great ape), and other endangered species. Deeply-rooted indigenous traditions see the bonobo as close relative to humans and forbid its hunting or eating. Local economic, social and health needs drive the planning of conservation activities, and support community ownership and mobilization. The initiative has created jobs in the management of the reserve and ecotourism. Basic health care, education programs, and agricultural cooperatives as well as a micro-enterprise program provide a perspective for isolated indigenous villages. Community activism helped achieve national government recognition for the community reserve, which is managed by Vie Sauvage. Several efforts for replication are underway. A local slogan exemplifies the connection between conservation and sustainable development pathways: “Help bonobos and they will help you”.


Among the first indigenous owned and managed conservancies in East Africa, Nashulai Maasai Conservancy is at the forefront of a paradigm shift towards a mixed-use conservation model.

This 2,400 hectare protected area forms an important ecological corridor in the Maasai Mara and has attracted elephants, zebras, giraffes, lions and numerous other species. Combining indigenous ecological knowledge with cutting-edge science, local Maasai communities are also engaged in economic development and cultural programming, so humans, livestock, and wildlife all prosper in harmony.

An elephant nursery and a bird sanctuary support the restoration of wildlife diversity and density. Traditional agricultural practices such as rotational grazing and use of a drought-resistant cattle species have helped adapt to climate change. Profits from ecotourism have been used to build two schools, increased access to clean water, and supported entrepreneurship and leadership training for women, who hold half of the leadership positions.

A sense of pride in preserving indigenous culture is evidence of the success of the model, which has already been replicated.


In an area of South-Eastern Myanmar marked by 70 years of conflict, the Salween Peace Park is the result of a Karen indigenous grassroots movement for stability and conservation of a 5,400 square kilometer continuous ecosystem made up of protected areas, community forests and indigenous lands. Based on an indigenous vision of sustainable use of natural resources, coupled with traditional practices and taboos, local communities lead a life that respects wildlife and local ecosystems. A camera-trap program led by female researchers has shown remarkable species diversity in the area, contributing to the conservation of the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot. Organic agriculture has allowed villagers to recover livelihoods in an area impoverished from decades of conflict. Established in 2014 in a highly participatory process and founded upon principles of peace and self-determination, ecological integrity and cultural survival, the Salween Peace Park is an expression of Karen indigenous identity.


Utz Che’ is a network of over 40 indigenous and local communities and farmer associations representing about 200,000 people in the entire country, 90% of them indigenous. Supporting its members in the sustainable management of their resources, mainly highland cloud forests and watersheds, the organization guides advocacy efforts of marginalized communities confronting encroachments on their territories. Incorporating Mayan traditional and cultural knowledge, training and farmer-to-farmer learning exchanges promote the conservation of local agrobiodiversity, use of heirloom species, and sharing of best practices in forestry and agroforestry. The livelihoods of 33,000 families have been improved through the creation of family farms using organic farming techniques. Member communities collectively hold and protect 74,000 hectares of forest. Utz Che’ emphasizes democratic inclusion, financial transparency and a strong representation of women in leadership positions.


Alianza Ceibo unites four indigenous peoples in their struggle to counter environmental degradation to protect over 20,000 square kilometers of primary rainforest across four provinces and 70 communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, this indigenous-led alliance provides alternatives to extractive industries, ranching, and large-scale monocultures. Alianza Ceibo’s activities provide clean water to over 6,000 people, connect remote communities to solar power, and support women entrepreneurs. The alliance’s advocacy and ongoing legal accompaniment have led to the revocation of mine and oil concessions in indigenous territories. Participatory community mapping processes document the stewardship of Kofán, Siona, Secoya and Waorani peoples over their lands, and have initiated legal claims for community land title. Community patrols and monitoring trace illegal incursions into their territories, while indigenous youth train in documentary film-making and storytelling. Alianza Ceibo’s wide range of gender-responsive solutions is inspired by indigenous wisdom and traditional practice, aligning conservation and sustainable development in a significant carbon sink.


In 2004, facing the deterioration of the 90-hectare Andranobe Lake which provided the base of their local fishing and agriculture livelihoods, four communities in central Madagascar came together to form the community-based organization Tatamo Miray an’Andranobe (TAMIA). Based on customary social contracts, TAMIA has served as a platform to restore the lake’s water level and quality, remove invasive aquatic species, and repopulate fish stocks. Planting trees on the adjacent hillsides, the communities reduced silting of the lake by 50%. Fish catches increased from 8 tonnes in 2004 to 20 tonnes in 2019. 420 hectares of farms are under irrigation with lake water even in the dry season. The lake secures access to drinking water for 3,500 people. A water user association as well as farming and fishing cooperatives under the umbrella of TAMIA have further contributed to higher and more predictable incomes for villagers.


Bringing together 11 indigenous groups, Forum Musyawarah Masyarakat Adat Taman Nasional Kayan Mentarang (FoMMA) advocates for the rights of communities who live on 20,000 square kilometers of customary land in Northern Kalimantan. A large portion of their ancestral lands, mainly made up of forests and rivers, overlaps with Kayan Mentarang National Park. The park was the first in Indonesia to be placed under a collaborative management arrangement. Government and indigenous authorities, represented by FoMMA, decide jointly on resource management as well as traditional access and use rights, promoting local stewardship over the park. FoMMA has supported communities to document and map over 20,000 square kilometers of indigenous territories. In 2019, they secured legal recognition for a first block of 2,500 square kilometers of customary lands under national law. FoMMA’s communities pursue traditional forest-based local economies, and protect large swaths of rainforest in an effort to mitigate climate change and retain traditional ways of life.