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In the isolated Ene Basin of the Peruvian Amazon, Kemito Ene brings together indigenous Asháninka people to sustainably produce and export certified organic cacao to Australia and Europe. This successful indigenous social business enterprise is a model for sustainable commodity supply chains worldwide. Kemito Ene advocates for the well-being of its producers based on eight pillars from Asháninka culture, including territorial security, cultural identify, and ability to autonomously subsist through production on their own lands. At the same time, the association navigates the demanding global export market with savvy, connecting its producers directly to international buyers. Between 2015 and 2018, cacao exports increased from 10 to 90 tons, while the number of participating Asháninka families rose from 41 to 300. In an area where forests are threatened by illegal logging, large infrastructure projects, and oil exploitation, Kemito Ene tells a story of indigenous entrepreneurship that sustains families and forests.

The Yurok Tribe, native to Northern California, demonstrates how tribal sovereignty, sustainable forest management, climate change mitigation, and cultural resilience can be advanced through tribal innovation and collaboration. Once custodians of over 200,000 hectares of territory, land grabs have left the Yurok with stewardship rights to only 10 percent of their ancestral home. In a groundbreaking partnership to secure new forms of finance, the tribe has allied with the state government of California to auction carbon credits from their sustainably managed forests through the state’s cap-and-trade program. The tribe’s participation in the program has enabled them to re-acquire an additional 20,200 hectares of lands within the Yurok ancestral territory from a large timber company, and will provide finance for ecosystem restoration and protection. These initiatives are interwoven with efforts to protect tribal livelihoods and cultures, as the Yurok view their identity, culture, and livelihoods as deeply interconnected with nature.

Operating the Bijagós Archipelago off the western coast of Guinea-Bissau, Conselho de Gestão da Área Marinha Protegida Comunitária Urok (Management Council of the Locally-Managed Marine Area of the Urok Islands) was created in 2005 by indigenous Bijagós communities to strengthen social, cultural, and environmental resilience. The Marine Protected Area (MPA) covers 54,500 hectares of culturally and ecologically important sites around the islands of Chedia, Nago, and Formosa, including over 3,000 hectares of mangrove forests providing crucial fish habitat. The council brings together indigenous communities, officials from the National Institute of Biodiversity and Protected Areas, and the non-governmental organization Tiniguena in a collaborative effort to safeguard key ecosystems, promote community development, and support local culture. In one of the most vulnerable countries in West Africa to climate change, the traditional knowledge of Bijagós people inform MPA conservation for future generations, safeguarding sacred sites, ecosystem well-being, and mangrove forests essential for climate resilience.

Created in 1997, Environmental Management and Development Trust (EMADET) has created a powerful alternative to deforestation and single use plastics in southwestern Nigeria. Through the promotion of cacao agroforestry the organization has supported cultivation of economically useful understory crops, including the so-called miracle fruit (Thaumatococcus daniellii). Miracle fruit leaves can be used as an alternative to the use of nylon for packaging local hot food. EMADET has built a dynamic network of women market traders of miracle fruit leaves in six towns by providing them with training in cooperatives and microcredit financing. By building capacity for more production of miracle fruit and other understory crops in cacao agroforests, the initiative strives to reduce biodiversity loss while enhancing food security. At the same time, its innovative promotion of alternatives to plastic provides an influential model for local economies around the world.

In Vanuatu, the world’s most vulnerable nation to climate change, Ser-Thiac shows the power of local leadership and resilience. This indigenous landowner business has created the first accredited forest carbon project in the Pacific Islands. Ser-Thiac protects and restores tropical rainforests, sequestering carbon while reducing vulnerability to flooding, drought, and wind damage. In an era where forest carbon projects are large-scale, Ser-Thiac offers a powerful alternative based on indigenous land rights and stewardship that has potential to be replicated across the Western Pacific Islands. As part of the wider Nakau Programme, this initiative has reduced approximately 15,000 tons of CO2 emissions from avoided deforestation and forest regeneration. Ser-Thiac is entirely self-sustaining and will generate income from carbon sales for 30 years, with the option to extend through new generations. The initiative’s innovative financing illustrates a sustainable pathway to protect forests, enhance local livelihoods, and increase climate resilience across the Pacific.

An innovative partnership involving the Kutkabubba aboriginal community in Western Australia, Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils Pty Ltd produces sandalwood oil for export to the global luxury perfume market. The partnership provides a unique avenue to create a value-added product from sandalwood, a sacred plant for the Kutkabubba and a key part of the spiritual identity of the Central Desert Aboriginal tribes. This innovative economic model is redefining how society can engage with aboriginal communities in Western Australia by providing the both industry and governments with a best practice approach for natural product sustainable supply chains. By embracing sustainable harvesting, valorizing traditional knowledge and cultural practices, and ensuring socioeconomic independence for the Kutkabubba aboriginal community, Dutjahn Sandalwood Oils provides a powerful new economy model for sustainable development.

Fondo de Páramos Tungurahua y Lucha Contra la Pobreza (Fund for the Tungurahua Paramos and the Fight Against Poverty) is an innovative model of public-private-community partnership for the paramos, its water, and its people. Created in collaboration by the Unidad de Movimientos Indígenas de Tungurahua (United Indigenous Movements of Tungurahua), local and provincial governments, private companies, and local communities, the fund has mobilized US$2,188,497 to conserve and restore over 4,000 hectares of paramos and developed 27 management plans to improve water security in the Ambato and Pastaza River Basins. The fund’s alternative livelihood programmes have raised incomes by 30 percent in the area, while its environmental education programme has reached over 7,600 children. All activities of this unique financial mechanism are implemented in partnership with indigenous peoples and local communities living in the area, benefitting approximately 400,000 people through conservation of the paramos, sustainable management of ecosystem services, and enhanced community well-being.

Founded to confront a large-scale mining project threatening communities and environment in the Intag Valley, DECOIN promotes conservation measures and alternative livelihoods to advance the conservation of the area’s Andean biodiversity. Over the past 22 years, the organization has created community-based forest reserves to protect watersheds in 38 communities, totaling 12,000 hectares. Sustainable agricultural activities such as small holder organic coffee production, aquaculture, poultry farming, and egg production, as well as eco-tourism ventures, provide additional income to struggling families and viable alternatives to mining, which remains a strong pressure in the area.

Fighting economic activities detrimental to the environment, Planet Indonesia identifies, under the leadership of the benefiting Dayak communities, sustainable livelihood opportunities through the development of conservation compacts and community businesses. Activities range from forest protection to anti-wildlife trafficking to securing land rights. Business groups have been set up in more than 50 villages, comprising 2,100 members, more than two-thirds of whom are women and/or indigenous. Community members are trained to run small-scale businesses, savings and loans programs build community capital, a revolving fund covers damages and operational costs, and coaching and mentoring ensures long-term sustainability of each community business. 30,000 hectares of forest have been protected and over 40,000 seedlings planted. To build awareness of the importance of conservation across generations, a fellowship program provides 50 high school students annually with funds to conduct adaptation and mitigation projects.

Concerned with extensive soil degradation threatening their agriculture-dependent livelihoods, five farming communities of Kazakhstan created the Community Fund 'Zhasil Azik' to restore the productivity of low-fertility lands by sustainably cultivating alfalfa. Alfalfa cultivation serves as an entry point to restore soil fertility, counter the effects of monoculture, make more efficient use of scarce water supplies, and improve smallholder income. New opportunities for livestock breeding through the availability of alfalfa have further enhanced food security. The innovative approaches utilized by the group accelerate recovery of soil fertility, do not require large financial investments, are technologically accessible for smallholder agricultural producers, and have increased income by 20 percent.More than 200 jobs have been created through the initiative's work, and the national government has integrated these techniques into the National Program for the Development of Agro-industrial Complex, effectively providing the support to scale up these practices to the national level. Community Fund 'Zhasil Azik' mobilizes local communities to deliver on solutions that address global challengess of food security, land degradation, water scarcity, and adaptation to climate change.

KCWA was set up in 2003 by members of the community who were concerned about the degradation of their seas. Over fishing, climate change and uncontrolled fish and coral collection by the aquarium trade needed to be addressed before the marine ecosystem was damaged beyond repair.

Elders who could remember how healthy and productive the sea had been decades ago felt it necessary to take action before it was too late. In 2005 they took the unprecedented step of setting aside a 30 hectare Marine Protected Area (MPA). This was the first coral based Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) in Kenya. 12 years on, the area has made a remarkable recovery.

With fishing prohibited within the MPA, fish have grown in abundance, size and diversity. The area has become a breeding ground, leading to an increase in fish outside the MPA. As such, fishermen see greater catches due to a spillover effect. At the same time, biodiversity has increased dramatically making Kuruwitu a destination for eco-tourism creating jobs for guides, boat captains and rangers.

KCWA is working with the local Beach Management Unit (BMU), the Kenyan State Department of Fisheries and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) to develop a co-management plan that will cover a 800 hectare area of ocean off the Kenyan coast. Through this co-management plan, KCWA will work with local fishermen to promote the sustainable use of marine resources, to reduce post-harvest losses and improve fish marketing systems.

In a drought-prone zone rife with resource conflicts and violent extremism, the Mali Elephant Project brings together various ethnic groups to effectively manage local resources and protect an internationally important population of 350 endangered African elephants. Through the formation of community-based natural resource management committees, the provision of additional income through support for women’s groups engaged in sustainable harvest of non-timber forest products, and anti-poaching measures involving 'eco-guardian' youth community members, the initiative has reduced poaching of elephants in the 32,000 km² area, improved social cohesion between different local communities, and contributed to peace-building efforts by providing alternatives to joining extremist groups. Communities have created rules for local use of natural resources, set aside forests for elephant use, formed pasture reserves, and designated seasonal water sources to be shared by people, livestock, and elephants.

Started in 2013, Mikoko Pamoja brings together two communities in Gazi Bay in Southern Kenya to sell carbon credits from mangrove conservation, trading 3,000 tons CO2-equivalent per year in the voluntary carbon market. Mikoko Pamoja is the first community-based project of this kind in the world to successfully trade mangrove carbon credits. Benefits are reinvested in the community to improve clean water access for 3,500 community members, provide educational materials to 700 school children, and to ensure the 117 hectare mangrove forest remains protected. Ecotourism provides a further source of income for this initiative, which is in the process of being replicated in other regions in Kenya and other countries.

Swayam Shikshan Prayog (SSP) empowers 72,000 women in the drought-prone state of Maharashtra to act as decision-makers, improving their health and economic well-being. Engaging at the nexus of nutrition, sustainable agriculture, and gender, the initiative has created 5,500 self-help and saving groups that support women to engage as farmers, entrepreneurs, and leaders. SSP trains women to negotiate with their families to obtain their own plot of land for cultivation, usually about 0.4 hectares each. Low-input sustainable farming techniques -- including efficient water use, organic farming, mixed cropping, and increased crop cycles -- enable the women to improve food security, increase climate resilience, enhance agrobiodiversity, and reduce stress on water resources. Through these projects, women develop capacity to influence household decision-making, improve nutrition, and increase water availability in the region. The initiative provides a space for local women to co-create their own development solutions and to connect with like-minded women and organizations to spread their knowledge and expertise in a broader network, creating a mechanism for widespread sustainable change.

In 2004, Bang La was protected from the worst effects of a catastrophic tsunami by their 192-hectare mangrove forest. Recognizing the importance of this natural habitat for disaster risk reduction, Bang La community residents formed an association to advance the protection of mangroves through co-management, community dialogues, and education programs, enabling them to resist the expansion of urban middle-class housing developments into the publically-owned land. The community has secured a Memorandum of Understanding from the provincial government, which provides them with the rights to establish a community-managed mangrove forest conservation area. The community's sustainable management of this area has triggered the return of the protected Phuket Sea Otter, and places this endangered species at the center of awareness campaigns that engage women and youth in natural resource management. In order to enhance local well-being and livelihood options, the group has established a savings and microcredit scheme to support small-business opportunities and retain the traditional character of the community.

Tackling acute human-snow leopard conflicts in Pakistan, Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization (BWCDO) protects Baltistan’s snow leopards by providing economic incentives to local farmers in 17 villages through insurance schemes and financial compensation against livestock losses following snow leopard attacks. Damages are paid after verification through joint decisions between BWCDO and Village Insurance Committees established for this purpose. Communities have also set up predator-proof fencing, and received training to improve herding techniques. Vaccination campaigns protect both livestock and wildlife.

BWCDO’s achievements have reduced economic losses to farmers. An educational program raises awareness and provides opportunities for girls, proactively engaging youth in conservation and development.

FAUHLKRA is a growing network of 84 community-owned businesses in Papua and West Papua, offering ecotourism services that connect tourists directly with family-run homestays through a user-friendly web portal, Stay Raja Ampat, and an SMS booking system. More than 600 new jobs have been created in homestays, fishing, and agriculture, including for youth and women, providing viable alternatives to the resort industry. The association sets hospitality and environmental standards for all member community-owned businesses. Pressures on ecosystems have been reduced through community forest patrols, peer-pressure enforcement of no-take fishery zones, and a participatory system to report illegal activities.

Led by women from seven communities in the northern coastal plain of Belize, the Community Baboon Sactuary Women's Conservation Group (CBSWCG) supports the conservation of the black howler monkey, or baboons, in the 6,000-hectare Community Baboon Sanctuary. CBSWCG brings together 240 landowners, each of whom voluntarily participates in conservation efforts through a pledge system. The sanctuary has produced a sustainable land management plan that has environmental, economic and social benefits that extend well beyond the protected area and include maintaining interconnected wildlife corridor integrity and a comprehensive sustainable natural resource management strategy.

A micro-credit fund has spawned projects in sustainable oil harvesting, tilapia farming, organic agriculture, and livestock rearing while the Bel-riv Commerce and Eco-Tourism Expo, created by the group in 2013, offers improved market access for farmers, small-scale entrepreneurs, and artisans. The successful protection of the sanctuary has led not only to an increase in the baboon population from 800 in 1985 to 6,000 in 2011, but also to the recovery of vulnerable populations of jaguar, ocelot, margay, puma and over 200 species of birds.