Global Diversity Foundation

GDF has a dual mission. Through our regional programmes, we support indigenous peoples' and local communities' efforts to protect their biocultural diversity, and peacefully achieve just and autonomous decision-making regarding their territories, resources and futures. In collaboration with diverse institutions, we provide support for communities to elaborate their own research, development and advocacy programmes. Areas of specific focus depend on community interests, although they tend to be community access to lands and resources, community-led conservation, advocacy and campaigning for social and environmental justice, the continuity of ethnobiological and biocultural knowledge...
Apr 21, 2015

Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve and the fight against the Dam

Natural resources are a livelihood source
Natural resources are a livelihood source

Almost a year has passed since approval was given to designate the Crocker Range in Sabah as a Biosphere Reserve, making it, at 350,584 hectares, the largest protected area in Malaysia. This Reserve includes areas inhabited by Dusun communities with whom Global Diversity Foundation has been collaborating for over a decade. Through a combination of training, participatory action research and community-based conservation education activities, the communities have provided input in the process of its nomination. Given recent uprising against the controversial Kaiduan Dam, it is timely to reflect on the processes used to achieve gazettement, and the core characteristics of Biosphere Reserves. It is crucial to gauge the level of our commitment to this reputable designation.

A key characteristic of Biosphere Reserves is the use of a multi-stakeholder approach, strongly emphasising local community involvement in management. Dusun communities in the Crocker Range are not new to asking that their rights be met, a call backed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A collaborative project that began in August 2009, the third in a sequence of projects carried out in the Buayan-Kionop area, was actually designed as a response to community request asking for assistance to strengthen community institutions and build grassroots capacity that would allow them to meaningfully engage in the conservation agenda of Sabah Parks, which included the nomination of the Reserve.

During the three year project, community research groups successfully raised awareness on Biosphere Reserves and other aspects of community conservation among communities living in Ulu Papar and governmental institutions in Sabah. The Ulu Papar Biocultural Community Protocol was developed, a document representing the voice of the Ulu Papar community about the importance of their way of life and culture, ancestral lands and territories, especially in relation to the use of natural resources as a livelihood source for the community and the conservation of biodiversity. GIS maps and participatory 3D models of Buayan-Kionop and Ulu Papar were created from new knowledge to display livelihood patterns and resource use of each community. Since the project officially ended in 2012, the community also pushed ahead with constructing a community outreach centre in Buayan village through fresh partnerships with both local and foreign organisations. This was partly funded through generous donations made by GlobalGiving donors.

Having collaborated with the Ulu Papar community, Sabah Parks, Sabah Biodiversity Centre and PACOS Trust throughout the project, the Global Diversity Foundation continues to appreciate local community efforts in preserving their traditional ways. Dusun communities in the Crocker Range continue to push their way into the forefront to make their voices heard. They have called out to local authorities to consider other solutions to the water shortage in Sabah. They make repeated requests for satisfactory consultations to be carried out with those who would eventually be displaced if the construction of the Dam proceeds. These requests are, after all, in line with a second characteristic of Biosphere Reserves, stated as fostering dialogue for conflict resolution of natural resourse use.

 

Photo by Rabani Ayub. Natural resources are a livelihood source for the Dusun communities of Ulu Papar in the Crocker Range.

Feb 27, 2015

Assessing impacts of education on life after school

Dar Taliba all-girls boarding house residents
Dar Taliba all-girls boarding house residents

Mohamed El Haouzi, leader of the Global Diversity Foundation’s school garden projects, is launching a comparative study that will provide much needed information to assess the impacts of the Dar Taliba boarding house in Ourika since it first opened in 1999. He has developed a questionnaire with Dr. Mohamed Cherkaoui, a human ecologist from University Cadi Ayyad, Marrakech’s leading university. The comprehensive survey covers diverse topics ranging from the socioeconomic backgrounds of students who previously resided at Dar Taliba Ourika, the skills and knowledge they gained, and how the experience impacted their life today.

The current director of the boarding house, Jamila (an ex-student herself, who benefitted from GDF’s school garden projects over the years), is confident that carrying out the survey will open up opportunities to network with former residents and encourage action to inspire environmental initiatives borne from knowledge gained during their time at Dar Taliba. She highlighted the annual Cultural Week that takes place in the middle school adjoining the boarding house, saying “Participation by our residents in environmental activities carried out during Cultural Week is a direct result of the importance placed on environmental education at Dar Taliba. Residents are taught to respect nature, manage rubbish properly and use water wisely, among many other initiatives.”

Our ambition is that GDF’s long-standing support for environmental education and wellbeing at the school continues to ensure a strong legacy among students for responsible and respectful engagement with the environment.

This project qualifies for the We Believe in Girls campaign!

To celebrate International Women’s Day, GlobalGiving UK is launching their We Believe in Girls campaign on Monday, 2nd March. Every donation will receive a 50% top-up (until the fund of £18,000 runs out). Please do consider making a donation to support the girls of Dar Taliba.

DONATE HERE

 

Descriptions of photos:

Fresh faces of the Dar Taliba all-girls boarding house residents, always eager to learn new skills and knowledge.

Dar Taliba was built near a middle school to accommodate girls as they continue their studies beyond primary school.

A new ethnobotanical garden is under development at Dar Taliba to allow girls to exchange knowledge about local useful plants, including ones used for food and medicine.

Dar Taliba was built near a middle school
Dar Taliba was built near a middle school
A new ethnobotanical garden is under development
A new ethnobotanical garden is under development
Jan 23, 2015

How to choose an emerging environmental leader

Daniel, a participant of GESA 2014
Daniel, a participant of GESA 2014

The first stage of the GESA 2015 application period, from 15 October 2014 – 15 January 2015, seemed to go by in the blink of an eye. Expressions of interest flowed in from around the world, and we were pleased to receive far-flung applications from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Eritrea, Guatemala, Jamaica, Latvia, Mongolia, Sudan, Yemen, Zimbabwe and other nations that are typically underrepresented in international courses. We have a record number of candidates vying for a spot this year, over 500 from 93 countries, up 63% over last year. Now comes the hard part: choosing the finalists from this talented set of applicants.

The good news is that we have a stellar jury to help us with the tough choices we have to make. We are pleased that many GESA alumni have agreed to help select their future peers, and this gives international breadth to the jury. For the 2015 lineup, we have Daniel (Dominican Republic), Rishi (Nepal), Chryl (United States), Manoj (Bangladesh), and Eda (Turkey). Their enthusiasm in taking on this task is an inspiration. Of this undertaking, Rishi said, “I take this as our collective responsibility to make GESA a dream academy for change-makers and I am honored to volunteer to achieve this mission.” Chryl agreed to these sentiments, responding, “I would be honored to serve on the jury as GESA has a special place in my heart.”

The other jury members are GESA coordinators and resource people: Gary Martin (United States), Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel (Switzerland), Emily Caruso (United Kingdom) and Susannah McCandless (United States).

Many have asked us how we go about making the decision of who attends the summer academy each year, and we would like to make the process as transparent as possible. The jury members choose their preferred candidates based on the leadership capacity communicated by their personal statements and CVs, ensuring that the resulting class has a good balance of men and women, mixture of nationalities (with no more than 2 people from the same country), regional spread, age range and multidisciplinarity. As we want to continue expanding our network globally, we also take into account if the candidate is from a country not previously represented in GESA.

Photo descriptions:

Daniel, a GESA 2014 participant, will assist in the shortlisting process this year.

Group photo taken during GESA 2014: A great mix of participants is an important feature of GESA.

Group photo taken during GESA 2014
Group photo taken during GESA 2014

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