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The Boon Rueang Wetland Forest Conservation Group formed in response to threats against the largest wetland forest in the Ing River Basin in Northern Thailand. The community has maintained stewardship over the 483 hectare forest through coordinated advocacy and dialogue with stakeholders, while pursuing a successful community forestry model under a landscape conservation paradigm. Education, mobilization, fundraising, and extensive research on the rich biodiversity and significant economic value of the wetland forest all have ensured the protection of an ecosystem critical to providing natural water reserves for agriculture and consumption, habitats for wildlife, acting as carbon storage and preserving the biodiversity of the Indo-Burma Region. Through thoughtful advocacy, the group achieved the reversal of an earlier administrative decision to use Boon Rueang wetland forest for industrial purposes. The wetland forest is now protected as a community inheritance for generations to come.

In the state of Querétaro, this women-founded and women-led association has been working with an environmentally-minded Spanish company, the Mexican Government, and a local university to develop and market cosmetics based on the ‘toronjil’, or lemon balm plant. The agreement signed between the parties is considered one of the first cases of full compliance with the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing. The association supports women entrepreneurs to grow their agricultural micro-businesses, and engages in biodiversity conservation, restoration, stabilization of soils, and nursery cultivation. The activities have empowered the women to create jobs and improve livelihoods in their community based on their traditional knowledge about local biodiversity, including herbal products and medicinal plants. The entrepreneurs have become part of a sustainable supply chain for the cosmetics industry, and serve as an example of successful conservation through the sustainable use of genetic resources.

After 40 years of advocacy, the Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation achieved the vision of protecting their land and waters for future generations in 2019 by signing agreements with national and territorial governments to officially create Thaidene Nëné, a 26,000 square kilometer protected area between the Canadian boreal forest and the arctic tundra. This intact landscape features some of the cleanest freshwater in the world and provides habitat for grizzly bears, wolves, moose, wolverine and some of the last herds of barren-ground caribou. It is also a globally significant carbon sink. This indigenous-led conservation model is made possible through the use of an innovative conservation finance mechanism called the Thaidene Nëné Trust, which is critical to the long-term conservation and lasting stewardship of this protected area. The Trust and indigenous local leadership lay the groundwork for this model of effective co-management.

In the South Peruvian Madre de Dios Department, ten indigenous communities came together with government authorities to form Ejecutor de Contrato de Administración de la Reserva Comunal Amarakaeri (ECA-RCA, Executor of the Administrative Contract of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve) to protect their ancestral rainforest. In a powerful example of the potential for shared governance and co-management, the group has worked hand-in-hand with the National Service of Protected Areas (SERNANP) to mitigate climate change through the sustainable management of the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve. Covering 402,335 hectares, the reserve is recognized by IUCN and protects primary forest in its entirety in an area under threat from illegal mining. ECA-RCA places priority on the engagement of youth and women, with youth comprising 60 percent of the reserve surveillance team and women occupying key leadership positions. ECA-RCA is a positive example of polycentric governance that shows how co-management of ecologically vulnerable natural resources between state and local communities can be effective.

Comunidades Nativas de Nuevo Saposoa y Patria Nueva de Mediación Callería (Native Communities of Nuevo Saposoa and Patria Nueva de Mediación Callería) brings together two indigenous Shipibo communities in the Peruvian province of Ucayali to monitor and protect 15,000 hectares of ancestral territories. The association has developed an innovative approach to community-led monitoring using satellite imagery and mobile phone apps that enable them to rapidly detect and respond to illegal deforestation. By involving diverse community members, including youth, in monitoring efforts these communities have successfully reduced illegal deforestation from a rate of five percent annually to zero. The results of this community-led monitoring have led to unprecedented coordination with the regional government authorities and law enforcement, enabling the Shipibo communities to regain ancestral rights to lands illegally seized by loggers and coca growers.

In a remote area of the Hawaiian island of Molokai, Hui Mālama o Moʻomomi brings together native Hawaiian communities to sustainably manage their marine waters and fisheries in the face of climate change. Drawing on traditional ecological knowledge and values passed down for generations, the group manages its nearshore fisheries using the art of kilo, which monitors moon cycles and their effects on marine species and ecosystems. Pono fishing, or responsible fishing, ensures a healthy and abundant ecosystem. Through family fishing camps, place-based education, learning activities, and advocacy, Hui Mālama o Moʻomomi focuses on passing on these practices to the younger generation.

Founded in 1990 to advocate for the autonomy of the Indigenous Peoples in Brazil’s northernmost state, Conselho Indígena de Roraima (Indigenous Council of Roraima) brings together nearly 55,000 indigenous people from the Macuxi, Wapichana, Taurepang, Ingarikó, Wai-Wai, Yanomami, Ye'kuana, Patamona, and Sapará groups. In 2010, the group achieved the demarcation of the 1.7 million-hectare territory of Raposa Serra do Sol. In a complementary initiative to ensure sustainable management of their land, Conselho Indígena de Roraima created the Indigenous Training and Culture Center Raposa Serra do Sol (CIFCRSS) in 1996 to provide training to Indigenous Peoples of Roraima in agroecology practices, promoting crop diversity, and strengthening the conservation of traditional seeds. These activities contribute to the resilience of these groups against the effects of climate change. The organization continues to advocate for recognition of indigenous tenure rights.

Throughout a 40-year campaign to obtain legal recognition of land rights to their 9,504-hectare Indigenous forest, the Indigenous Group of Dayak Iban Sungai Utik Long House have consistently defended their lands against illegal logging, palm oil production, and corporate interests, protecting an estimated 1.31 million tons of carbon. Known as the Sungai Utik forest guardians, the group lives in West Kalimantan in a 214-metre traditional long house that accommodates 318 people. The Dayak Iban sustainably manage their forest in accordance with Indigenous laws — 6,000 hectares are reserved as protected forest and 3,504 hectares are reserved for crop cultivation managed in a traditional rotation system. This management system provides the group with food, medicine, and clean water. Valuing nature and cultural integrity over temporary wealth from the sale of their land, the Dayak Iban illustrate the power of sustainable indigenous management for climate change mitigation and human well-being.

Launched in Kenya in 2015, Solar Freeze is pioneering the production of cold storage units powered by solar energy for small-scale rural produce farmers. By providing mobile solar-powered cold rooms, this innovative entrepreneurial initiative enables farmers to reduce post-harvest losses by 90 percent and to grow more high-value crops, thus increasing household incomes and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through food loss. 80 percent of the 3,000 beneficiaries are women. The ‘Each One, Teach One - Train and Earn’ initiative within Solar Freeze mentors women and youth between the ages of 18 and 29 in the operation, maintenance, and repair of renewable energy equipment as well as in climate-smart agriculture. As a result of the mentorship provided by this skills-transfer program, 100 young people are earning an income through work that reduces agricultural carbon footprint. By filling a key gap in the supply chain, Solar Freeze increases smallholder income, mitigates climate change, and supports food security through replicable practices.

On the north shore of the island of Kaua’i, Hui Makaʻāinana o Makana takes a place-centered approach that weaves together the identity and culture of native Hawaiian communities to sustainably manage their nearshore fisheries. Through sustained work at the grassroots and policy levels over the past 25 years, the group successfully attained a groundbreaking agreement with the Hawaiian Government in 2015 to establish a Community-based Subsistence Fishing Area, setting a key precedent for Hawaii and the Pacific. The fishing area is managed used traditional ecological knowledge, including the designation of a pu’uhonua or sanctuary area. The group’s sustainable marine management is complemented by a mosaic of other initiatives supporting the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural areas, sacred sites, and the entire watershed in the face of climate change.

Marine resources in Micronesia are threatened with habitat destruction compounded by climate change, with severe effects on local communities. In response, the Tamil Council of Chiefs in the state of Yap established the Tamil Resources Conservation Trust (TRCT) to promote ridge-to-reef conservation for community and ecosystem resilience. On land, watershed-wide conservation projects ensure the provision of clean water to over half the population of Yap, while the first-ever community nursery cultivates climate-resilient native species such as nipa palm to reduce coastal erosion, and produces traditional food crops such as taro. Promoting use of the nursery to support agroforestry, the initiative decreases reliance on vulnerable coastal fisheries for 848 families. At sea, TRCT has established a systematic marine conservation plan in collaboration with international partners. TRCT is a leader in the Pacific, illustrating how interwoven traditional knowledge and science can foster climate change mitigation and adaptation for future generations.

Deccan Development Society works in the Zaheerabad region of India with Dalit (‘untouchables’) and tribal women to develop climate-smart agricultural practices that secure community nutrition, health, and livelihoods. Over the past 25 years, the organization has supported over 2,700 women to reclaim their farmlands and, in its first ten years alone, generated over one million days of employment for women across 30 villages. To combat environmental challenges of poor soil quality and limited water, Deccan Development Society has supported women to form voluntary groups to establish sovereignty over seeds, food, farming, health, market, and media. Through these groups, the organization has created its own seed bank, millet processing unit, outlets for farm product sales, and restaurants, providing a powerful network of support for its women entrepreneurs. Today, over 5,000 women have adopted millet-based agrobiodiverse farming approaches and market strategies that fight against chronic malnutrition, food insecurity, and poverty in the region.

Created in 2007, Cameron Gender and Environment Watch (CAMGEW) brings together women’s empowerment, community livelihoods, and ecology to address environmental challenges in northwestern Cameroon. Recognizing that local livelihoods are deeply integrated with the health of local ecosystems, the group has planted 75,000 bee-loving African cherry trees (Prunus Africana) in degraded areas of Kilum-Ijim Forest to serve as a carbon sink and protect key watersheds. At the same time, they have trained over 1,000 bee farmers in honey production for market, while a complementary programme has trained 772 farmers on agroforestry to bolster soil health and provide alternative firewood sources. To empower women farmers, CAMGEW offers both business training and microloans through a programme that has, to date, trained 1,580 women and provided 1,325 loans. In a time of ongoing conflict in Cameroon, the organization has made a powerful impact on the health of local ecosystems and the well-being of local communities.

In 2011, the 40,000-year-old hunter-gatherer Hadzabe tribe secured the first-ever Certificate of Customary Right of occupancy in Tanzania, granting them rights to over 20,000 hectares of their traditional lands. Building on this landmark victory, the Hadzabe partnered with Carbon Tanzania to sell carbon credits to the voluntary carbon market. This partnership has enabled the Hadzabe to earn US$250,000, with proceeds funding the salaries of 40 community wildlife scouts and supporting other community needs. Through this work, deforestation in the core Hadzabe territory has declined by nine percent in the past five years, compared to a 50 percent increase in the wider region. Populations of endangered African elephants, African wild dogs, lions and leopards have likewise increased in the last three years. Yaeda Valley Project tells a powerful story of the role of land tenure and innovative finance mechanisms in mitigating climate change and sustaining indigenous livelihoods.

In South Benin, Centre Régional de Recherche et d’Education pour un Développement Intégré (CREDI-ONG, Regional Centre of Research and Education for Integrated Development) is putting youth at the centre of efforts to mitigate climate change while promoting community resilience. Established in 2006, CREDI-ONG has created an agroecological farm and a 67,000-hectare Community Natural Park in the Sitatunga Valley. Working in key wetland and forest ecosystems, the organization uses a participatory approach to promote integrated aquaculture, agroecological farming, and environmental protection, reaching 150,000 people. One thousand people — 84 percent of them women — have benefitted from 12 village savings and loan groups, agroecological clubs, and seven community apiculture units. Parallel environmental education clubs have empowered 1,250 youth as the next generation’s conservation leaders. Operating in an area with limited sustainable livelihood opportunities, CREDI-ONG provides a powerful example of how environmental conservation can mitigate climate change and ensure community resilience.

In the Amazonas Department of Peru, Ejecutor de Contrato de Administración Tuntanain (ECA Tuntanain, Executor of the Administrative Contract of Tuntanain) has created a powerful collaboration with the National Service of Protected Areas (SERNANP) to co-manage 94,967 hectares of forest. Bringing together 23 indigenous communities within the Tuntanain Communal Reserve, the group’s primary aim is to reduce vulnerability to climate change through climate change mitigation, sustainable production, and inclusive governance. Through these activities, ECA Tuntanain has increased income for local communities by 160 percent, protected the headwaters of three rivers essential for water security, reduced food insecurity, and created an inclusive governance plan for territorial conservation and development to ensure long-term sustainability. The protection of a large area of intact forest contributes significantly to the mitigation of climate change.

Formed by Sherani tribes in 2012 in response to accelerating deforestation in Chilghoza Forest, Kasa Ghar Cluster Community Based Organization (CBO) sustainably manages 26,000 hectares of forest in Pakistan’s Sulaiman Range. To reduce dependence on timber harvesting, Kasa Ghar Cluster CBO has developed a successful model that commercializes the Chilghoza pine nut by connecting communities directly to the market, resulting in a 23 percent increase in price. Through trainings organized by Kasa Ghar Cluster CBO’s six village organizations and two women’s groups, local communities have learned harvesting techniques to improve pine nuts sold at market and pine nuts used for natural regeneration. Over the past seven years, deforestation rates have decreased by 25 percent, while income has increased by 18 percent. Through this approach, the group safeguards the well-being of approximately 12,000 people from 100 villages directly dependent on the forest for their livelihoods and subsistence needs.

Founded in 2005, Associação Indígena Kisêdjê (Kisêdjê Indigenous Association) brings together 500 indigenous Kisêdjê people inhabiting the Wawi Indigenous Land of Brazil. Living in one of the world’s most biodiverse areas, the Kisêdjê faced widespread incursions and deforestation that led their culture to be at the brink of collapse. After an extensive campaign to reclaim their territorial rights in the mid-1990s, the group transformed their landscape by planting over 3,000 native pequi trees to restore degraded lands while producing fruit for local food security. In 2011, the association created the Hwĩn Mbê project – ‘Pequi Oil’ project in the Kisêdjê language – which integrates new technologies and traditional methods to sustainably extract over 300 litres of pequi oil every year. Using an innovative entrepreneurial model to connect to local and national markets, the project enables the next generation to sustainably manage their forests, enhance livelihood options, and celebrate indigenous culture.