Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders

by Global Diversity Foundation
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Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
Support 100 Global Emerging Environmental Leaders
With the Bukit Bunyau community in West Kalimantan
With the Bukit Bunyau community in West Kalimantan

Nessie Reid, a GESA 2013 alumna, shares her thoughts on the transformational impact of the academy:

When I applied for the Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA) in the spring of 2013, I was at a crossroads in my professional life. I was seeking direction and mentorship in the field I was most passionate about: protecting and conserving biological and cultural diversity. In 2010, after graduating from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), I was fortunate enough to work for the ICCA Consortium: a non-profit NGO seeking to promote and provide appropriate recognition and support to Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities Conserved Areas and Territories (ICCAs for short). It is here where the seeds of my interest in food security and food sovereignty were planted, but it was only when I attended GESA was I able to recognise that it was this direction I wanted to go in.

During the three years of working for the consortium, I carried out field research and organised events in Japan, India, the Philippines, Italy and lived in Indonesia for eighteen months where I worked as Project Coordinator for an ICCA ‘high threat’ documentation series. My fieldwork led me to West Kalimantan where I witnessed a Dayak Limbai Indigenous community protecting, managing and conserving their ‘Bukit Bunyau’ ICCA using generation-old customary intuitions and natural resource management practices. The experience irrefutably affirmed my belief that areas where local communities are able to independently govern and manage their natural environments (i.e. ICCAs) – with full access and control over their food production – biological and cultural diversity is far higher, compared to areas with externally enforced conservation management systems. Whilst documenting the work of a community radio network and organic seed bank cooperative during my time in India, I learnt of the rewards that small scale, community-led projects can reap. Similarly, when co-facilitating a community-made Photo Story in the Philippines, I witnessed a formidable spirit of resilience and innovation as this community fought to defend their ancestral homeland from encroaching mining companies.

I brought all these ideas and learnings to GESA and it was during the three-week period – with peer-to-peer learning, coupled with mentoring from GESA resource people and Global Diversity Foundation staff – that I was able to discuss, brain-storm and envision how to most effectively put my plans for ecological and social justice into practice. Up until this point, since leaving university, I had ploughed on with my career, never really giving myself enough time or freedom to stop and scrutinise if I was really affecting change. Despite people’s best intentions for ‘saving the planet’, within the NGO, activism and environmental movement, burn-out is a common manifestation and I believe we lose many great people within the movement due to it. GESA allowed me the breathing-room to stop and really consider what felt meaningful and alive to me, rather than just ticking the “right” boxes.

After GESA, I returned to the UK and became co-director for This is Rubbish: a food waste Community Interest Company which raises awareness about the preventable scale of food waste in the UK through policy research, community and arts led public events. In November 2014, I became Rural Artist in Residence for Cape Farewell where I created the on-going The Milking Parlour: an artistic inquiry exploring and opening up questions about the future and current situation of our food and farming system. Since receiving the residency, I moved to an organic family-run farm in South West Wales, from where I manage the Oxford Real Farming Conference: one of key organic and agroecological farming conferences in the UK, and Biodiversity – a Journal of Life on Earth.

My experience at GESA empowered me to pursue a meaningful and rewarding life of environmental change-making and more recently, environmental leadership and management. I was so inspired by GESA that I am now in fact the coordinator of both the academy and the Global Environments Network (GEN), which gathers alumni of summer academies and other events into a transformational leadership network. With other members of GEN, I am busy planning this year’s summer academy, which will take place 25 July – 11 August in the city of Oxford, UK, collaborating with the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute and Interdisciplinary Centre for Conservation Science.

GESA brought much change and meaning to my life, providing me with a platform where I was able to speak of my experiences and begin to explore how to channel them into the next chapter of my life and work back in my own local community. If you want to read more about GESA 2018, click here. The deadline for application is 31st March, so you still have time to apply!

Nessie sharing stories of home at GESA 2013
Nessie sharing stories of home at GESA 2013
Nessie opening the Oxford Real Farming Conference
Nessie opening the Oxford Real Farming Conference
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Recognizing diverse environmental understandings
Recognizing diverse environmental understandings

Plans for the 2nd Latin American Socio-Environmental Academy [Spanish title: 2ª Academia Latinoamericana de Liderazgo Socio-Ambiental/ALLSA] are well underway. Alumni of other Global Environments Network events are leading the planning, integrating their concerns and vision for change.

Scheduled for 30 June - 8 July 2018 in Guatemala, ALLSA 2018 will focus on the intersections between youth, climate change and migration in Central America, the Caribbean and North America.

Why climate change?

Several countries in Central America and the Caribbean region rank amongst the top ten in the world for long-term climate risk. As climate change worsens, this unique region of interwoven lives, economies, foodsheds and cultures will face ever-increasing challenges associated directly or indirectly with climate change: gendered and youth migration, cross-border violence, resource extraction-related conflicts, depopulation of rural areas, and loss of traditional knowledge bases, food security and sovereignty.

Ana Elia, Global Environments Summer Academy alumna, co-organiser of ALLSA 2015, and of the upcoming regional academy says, “This comes at a crucial time. According to UNICEF, in the coming years climate change will increasingly be the cause of large-scale migrations of people, led in most cases by youth who are more willing to take risks. Latin American and Caribbean youth leaders need to connect local and international networks to find adaptive solutions to the complex threads of challenges associated with climate change.

We believe there is a pressing need to create platforms open to youth from different disciplinary backgrounds to encourage… critical discussions on climate change. …We are designing the 2018 academy for committed, proven young emerging leaders to deepen and expand learnings, explore critical pedagogies, develop social networks, improve communication skills and strengthen leadership skills that advance practice and understanding for social and ecological resilience.” she continued.

The 2nd Latin American academy builds on important lessons we learned from the inaugural Latin American regional academy in Dominican Republic, alongside other regional and summer academies held over the years since 2011. For ALLSA 2018, academy alumni, under the auspices of the Global Environments Network, are partnering with Global Diversity Foundation and UNESCO Prize laureate SERES, a grassroots nonprofit working to cultivate and catalyse Central American youth leaders to build just and sustainable communities.

To read more about the 2nd Latin American Socio-Environmental Academy, click here

Adventurous participants cross a swinging bridge
Adventurous participants cross a swinging bridge
Students engage in a non-traditional classroom
Students engage in a non-traditional classroom
Participants on a field visit, Dominican Republic
Participants on a field visit, Dominican Republic

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As we go by our daily lives, we might not always remember that seeds are at the very source of life on this planet, and essential for the survival of many beings who live on it. We also might not know that the future is uncertain for the diversity and integrity of the seeds that sustain us. 

Luckily for us, there is a global community of people who are working together to protect and maintain our seeds. Through the Global Environments Network, and with the generous support of our GlobalGiving donors and other sponsors, we recently organised our first Europe-based Community Exchange (ECE) in Barcelona to gather individuals and organisations working on seeds – in all their guises – to share ideas, exchange lessons and build collaborative relationships. We are excited to share the results of our discussions and proposed pathways to a common vision.

What challenges do our seeds face?

On the one hand, contemporary food production and consumption economies have led to a dramatic reduction in the diversity of crops sold, and by proxy, in crops grown. This has led to the continued loss of many local and traditional varieties, which not only represents the loss of an incredible wealth of knowledge and biocultural diversity, but perhaps more urgently, it represents the loss of traits that may allow us to adapt our agricultural practice to diverse and changing conditions, including those resulting from climate change. On the other hand, contemporary agribusiness models, sustained by national and regional policies, are concentrating and privatising control over the seeds we need for our survival in the hands of a few corporations.

How did our workshop help to advance collaborations to address those challenges?

The European community of seed professionals works at the frontline of policy and practice to ensure that we don’t lose access to – and ultimately our control over – our crop and food biodiversity. They are working to conserve the seeds of our incredible existing agrobiodiversity in local and regional seed banks, to increase seed diversity through organic breeding, to guarantee our control over our seeds through innovative measures that ensure they cannot be privatised or patented, and to ensure the integrity of our seeds in the face of genetic engineering.

The ECE eschewed formal presentations in favour of active, participatory methods for mutual learning and joint reflection. We visited innovative farming and academic initiatives around Barcelona that conserve seeds, enhance agrobiodiversity and provide healthy organic produce for the city. We worked together on developing a collective “Pathways to a common vision”, which proposes to bring together the great diversity of practice in the European seed ‘movement’ and identify potential collaborations and future joint initiatives. Global Diversity Foundation committed to developing a pathway that supports emerging individuals and initiatives working on seeds to find and engage with experienced mentors within the movement, ensuring the ‘passing on’ of knowledge and wisdom for the next generation of seed protectors. 

GEN Mediterranean Regional Coordinator and organiser of the event, Ugo said, “It was a pleasure to coordinate and participate in the first European Community Exchange on Seed Diversity and Sovereignty, which allowed a very diverse and motivated group of professionals and changemakers from all corners of Europe and beyond to exchange ideas, cross-pollinate initiatives and engage in formal and non-formal dialogue for collective action.”

Many of us left the workshop feeling inspired, connected and empowered to bring seeds back to the heart of our communities. Here they can be protected by us, and in turn provide us with the security we need to face our unpredictable futures.

[All photos by Inanc Tekguc]

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Celebrating connection
Celebrating connection

As I sit rocking my infant daughter to sleep and reflecting on my time at the recent Okanagan Environmental Leadership Camp, the most recent convening of this Global Environments Network, I find it rich with lessons. It is difficult to capture in words all I learned about transformation through reconnection to self, family, community and territory during the week. IndigenEYEZ facilitators and the Upper Nicola Band of Syilx welcomed us onto unceded Okanagan territory in the Northwest of Turtle Island.

From 10-17 June, Global Diversity Foundation partnered with the amazing Okanagan-based organization IndigenEYEZ to convene 30 Indigenous youth ages 18-30 with skilled facilitators and artists in an unprecedented Indigenous Regional Academy. Our purpose? To build leadership through these processes of reconnection. To engage with and process intergenerational trauma and healing, of bodies and territory. To reflect on the integral role of love in transforming ourselves and the Earth.

To dig deep into this work, we met with Syilx elders and culture bearers. We shared food, stories, and ceremony. We mapped both destructive impacts and places of abundance on Okanagan traditional territory on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border, and explored potential collaborative strategies to respond to ongoing conflicts and destruction. We responded with joy and care to the work of a Syilx activist and knowledge holder who has located old stories of the important roles of two-spirited community members to help guide and ground the struggles of contemporary Indigenous youth living beyond the gender binary. To open ourselves to connection and healing, we explored through listening, and also, necessarily, through laughter, play, and creativity. Traditional and contemporary arts flowed and fused, on fabric, leather, and metal; in storytelling, music, beading, and shadow puppetry.

We grounded ourselves with focused time and learning on and from the land. We waited to be invited into relationship with this territory, many of us coming to nkwr'itkw, Glimpse Lake, for the first time. The standing ones--towering fir, spruce and pines, trembling aspen--held the space. Medicines surrounded us, and bloomed underfoot in low alpine meadows and forest clearing. Loons, eagles, ravens, beavers and a curious black bear greeted us from the edges of camp. Mosquitoes took their own offerings from our exposed skin. Thanks to our hosts, we ate and drank foods harvested from Okanagan territory: elk, venison, huckleberry and sxusm (foam berry).

We received these gifts with gratitude and joy, and held them in the light of the many threats and challenges to Syilx territory, sovereignty and wellbeing. The Kinder Morgan pipeline sits like a black snake poised at the edge of Okanagan territory. The effects of clearcutting, mining, ranching, development, overhunting and -fishing are compounded by climate change. As Syilx knowledge-holder Rob Edwards of the Enowkin Centre shared, they are further exacerbated by disconnects among both Indigenous and settler users of the territory in understanding that rights and responsibilities sit in relationship. Interconnected with violence to lands and waters, participants engaged the legacies of residential schooling and other tools of cultural genocide. These remain present injuries as well as painful memories, disrupting families into addiction and state care, stealing language and stories, and separating people from relationship with the land and one another.

Back at home, I sit on Western Abenaki traditional territory with my now-sleeping daughter and a new awareness and commitment to all my relations. I am grateful for the ability and willingness of our facilitators, fellow participants and the land on which we met to hold the space for us to undertake the vital work to which they called us. I ask that the time we spent together at nkwr'itkw continue to teach those who were present, and invite you, the reader, to consider your own relationships to community and place in the light of this crucial work of reflection and reconnection.

Limlempt, thank you.

All photos credit Dana Wilson, http://www.salishseaproductions.ca/, with thanks to IndigenEYEZ (https://indigeneyez.com). All errors are the author's alone.

Ceremony before going out to sit on the land
Ceremony before going out to sit on the land
Sending messages
Sending messages
Sharing skills over a bitterroot patch
Sharing skills over a bitterroot patch
Ceremony before going out to sit on the land
Ceremony before going out to sit on the land
Sovereign
Sovereign
I am my ancestor's wildest dreams
I am my ancestor's wildest dreams
Okanagan Environmental Leadership Camp, June 2017
Okanagan Environmental Leadership Camp, June 2017
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Maribel & fellow Tojol-Ab'al speaker attend NACELE
Maribel & fellow Tojol-Ab'al speaker attend NACELE

[Texto en Español sigue abajo / Spanish text follows below]

From February 9-14, 65 Indigenous community leaders, facilitators, and allies gathered on Comcaac territory in Sonora, Mexico for the 2017 North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange (NACELE). Participants came from 12 different Indigenous nations, and the event included interactive workshops and presentations on territory defense, communications, local economies, food sovereignty, biodiversity, and art and transformation. Following up on our last report, this Global Environments Network Story includes participant reflections, photos, and possibilities for future collaborations that emerged from NACELE 2017.

GDF North America holds the nurture and support of GEN members' collaborative initiatives to protect their biocultural landscapesas a core commitment. NACELE 2017 demonstrated that GEN members in Mexico are already engaged in many dynamic, thoughtful projects situated in context, grounded in local needs, and committed to a long-term presence. In this report, we highlight one of these projects: Developing Learning Materials to Strengthen the Tojol-Ab’al Language. NACELE 2017 participant Maribel developed this language revitalization project with her classmate Diana, as the capstone of their studies at the Intercultural University of Chiapas. Both are speakers of the indigenous Tojol-Ab’al language who come from the municipality of Las Margaritas in Chiapas, Mexico.

As they found in their initial inquiry, in the community of Bajucu, Las Margaritas, approximately 50% of the population no longer uses the Tojol-Ab’al language in a fluent manner, and has some degree of ignorance regarding the Tojol-Ab’al names for words. Maribelexplains, “Unfortunately this problem principally affects children and youth.... Factors include acculturation (globalization, modernization, migration, use of technology and ideological changes), discrimination (difference and lack of interest in strengthening language) and the educational system (lack of support, lack of resources, no materials to promote the original languages). Therefore the young people already have a mentality of not using the language with each other due to shame. As well, a portion of the lack of knowledge in children is due to the lack of instruction that they receive from their parents.” The two women note that loss of the Tojol-Ab’al language also contributes to the erosion of a collective Tojol-Ab'al identity, loss of cultural patrimony, and a loss of respect for traditional knowledge.

In order to address these issues and strengthen the Tojol-Ab’al language in Bajucu, this GEN member has initiated a project with the following goals:

  • Identify the causes and consequences of linguistic changes in the community.
  • Conduct workshops to raise awareness among children, youth, and parents on the Tojol-Ab’al language and cultural identity.
  • Develop Tojol-Ab'al learning materials with  high school students in the community. These materials will include:
          Audio recordings of the Tojol-Ab’al alphabet, body parts and household items;
          A booklet of medicinal plants with Tojol-Ab’al, Spanish, and scientific names;
          Transcriptions of elders’ recounting of legends, stories, myths and poems in Tojol-ab'al and Spanish;
           A dictionary of scientific terms in Tojol-Ab’al and Spanish; and    
          Materials on Tojol-Ab’al cosmovision and astrology.
  • Teach strategies to strengthen the Tojol-Ab’al language.
  • Promote the use of traditional plants in the Tojol-Ab’al language.

Maribel explains that the central values necessary to implement the project in a good way are respect, responsibility, unity, confidence, a strong sense of ethics, tolerance and patience.

In the GDF North America program, we are pleaxed to be increasingly able to offer  mentorship, organizational and funding support for the biocultural landscape protection initiatives of network members. With your support through the Global Giving platform, we can continue this important work of nurturing and strengthening GEN members' work to secure a future of Indigenous well-being and self-determination in Mexico.

Texto en español:

Apoyando a iniciativas que fortalezcan a los paisajes bioculturales en México: Revitalización del lenguaje Tojol-Ab'al

Entre el 9 y el 14 de febrero, 65 líderes comunitarios, facilitadores y aliados se reunieron en territorio Comcaac en Sonora, México para la Conferencia de Liderazgo Ambiental Comunitaria Norteamericana de 2017 (NACELE). Los participantes provenían de 12 naciones indígenas diferentes, y el evento incluyó talleres interactivos y presentaciones sobre defensa del territorio, comunicaciones, economías locales, soberanía alimentaria, biodiversidad, arte y transformación. Siguiendo a nuestro último informe, esta historia de la Red de entornos globales incluye reflexiones, fotos y posibilidades para futuras colaboraciones surgidas de NACELE 2017.

GDF North America sostiene y apoya a las iniciativas colaborativas de los miembros de GEN para proteger sus paisajes bioculturales como un compromiso fundamental. NACELE 2017 demostró que los miembros de GEN en México ya están involucrados en muchos proyectos dinámicos y reflexivos situados en contexto, basados en las necesidades locales y comprometidos con una presencia a largo plazo. En este informe, destacamos uno de estos proyectos: “Desarrollar materiales de aprendizaje para fortalecer el lenguaje Tojol-Ab'al”. La participante de NACELE 2017 Maribel desarrolló este proyecto de revitalización del lenguaje con su compañera de clase Diana, como punto culminante de sus estudios en la Universidad Intercultural de Chiapas. Ambos son hablantes de la lengua indígena Tojol-Ab'al, y provienen del municipio de Las Margaritas en Chiapas, México.

Como encontraron en su diagnóstico inicial, en la comunidad de Bajucu, Las Margaritas, aproximadamente el 50% de la población ya no usa el lenguaje Tojol-Ab'al de una manera fluida y tiene cierto grado de ignorancia con respecto a los nombres Tojol-Ab'al para ciertas cosas y conceptos. Maribel explica, “Desafortunadamente, este problema principalmente afecta a los niños y a la juventud. Los factores incluyen la aculturación (globalización, modernización, migración, uso de la tecnología y cambios ideológicos), la discriminación (diferencia y falta de interés en fortalecer el lenguaje) y el sistema educativo (falta de apoyo, falta de recursos, no materiales para promover los idiomas originales). Por lo tanto, los jóvenes ya tienen una mentalidad de no usar el idioma entre sí debido a la vergüenza. Además, una parte de la falta de conocimiento en los niños se debe a la falta de instrucción que reciben de sus padres." Las compañeras señalan que la pérdida de la lengua Tojol-Ab'al también contribuye a la erosión de un sentido colectivo Tojol-Ab’al, la pérdida de patrimonio cultural y la pérdida de respeto por los conocimientos tradicionales.

Para abordar estas cuestiónes y fortalecer el lenguaje Tojol-Ab'al en Bajucu, este miembro de GEN ha iniciado un proyecto con los siguientes objetivos:
Identificar las causas y consecuencias de los cambios lingüísticos en la comunidad.
• Realizar talleres para sensibilizar a los niños, jóvenes y padres sobre el idioma Tojol-Ab'al y su identidad cultural.
• Desarrollar materiales de aprendizaje Tojol-Ab'al con estudiantes de secundaria en la comunidad. Estos materiales incluirán:
       Grabaciones de audio del alfabeto Tojol-Ab'al, partes del cuerpo y artículos del hogar
       Un folleto de plantas medicinales con sus nombres Tojol-Ab'al, español y científicos;
       Transcripción de relatos de ancianos de leyendas, historias, mitos y poemas en Tojol-ab'al y español;
       Un diccionario de términos científicos en Tojol-Ab'al y español; y
       Materiales sobre la cosmovisión y la astrología de Tojol-Ab'al.
Enseñar estrategias para fortalecer el lenguaje Tojol-Ab'al.
• Promover el uso de las plantas tradicionales en el idioma Tojol-Ab'al.

Maribel y Diana explican que los valores centrales necesarios para implementar el proyecto de una buena manera son el respeto, la responsabilidad, la unidad, la confianza, un fuerte sentido de la ética, la tolerancia y la paciencia.

En el programa de GDF Norteamérica, se nos pide que cada vez sea más capaz de ofrecer apoyo de mentoría, organización y financiamiento para las iniciativas de protección del paisaje biocultural de los miembros de la red. Con su apoyo a través de la plataforma Global Giving, podemos continuar este importante trabajo de nutrir y fortalecer el trabajo de los miembros de GEN para asegurar un futuro de bienestar indígena y autodeterminación en México


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Global Diversity Foundation

Location: Bristol, VT - USA
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Project Leader:
Nessie Reid
Canterbury, Kent United Kingdom
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