Our work supports and empowers indigenous people of the Amazon basin to fulfill their right to self-determination by preserving their lands, culture, and way of life.
Natural Resource Management & Climate Change
We have supported the mapping, titling, and participatory census of Achuar, Shiwiar, Sápara, and Shuar territories, and are working with these communities on natural resource management planning and climate change policies.
Supporting “Planes de Vida”
We are helping the Sápara people with a natural resource plan for their territory so they may optimize and sustainably manage the resources in their territories.
Natural resource plans are created through collaborative decision-making, and provide tools for self-governance and participatory management that harnesses the collective wisdom of the community.
Securing Legal Recognition for Ancestral Territories
We provide administrative support for indigenous groups across the Amazon basin.
We have supported the mapping, titling, and participatory census of Achuar, Shiwiar, Sápara, and Shuar territories, the preliminary step in construction and implementation of a Global Information System, and continue to work on this activity with the Sápara and Kichwa people.
Thanks to this effort, the Achuar, Shiwiar, and Shuar nationalities have secured legal recognition of 865,000 acres of ancestral territories in 2011, for a total of 1.8 million acres to date.
Forests and Climate Change
Ecuador is one of many countries with a UN-REDD National Program. We are helping indigenous groups understand how Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) policies, and the Ecuadorian Government’s negotiations and implementation of these policies, will affect their lands and territories. It is also working to get Ecuador’s government to take collective rights into account in its REDD policy negotiations.
We promote an innovative development model based on the recognition of and respect for the collective rights of indigenous people.
Preserving Indigenous Life with Alternative Economic StrategiesWorking with our indigenous partners, we promote an innovative development model based on the recognition of and respect for collective rights of indigenous people.
From ecotourism projects to complementary currencies, economic alternatives that reinforce the value of an intact rainforest are of primary importance in the indigenous communities of the western Amazon basin.
Alternatives to Oil Development
We work with our indigenous partners to create a sustainable economic foundation for preserving their way of life, including:
- complementary currency systems to support rural development and promote local production, consumption and trade
- permaculture and aquaculture projects
- ecotourism projects, such as Kapawi Ecolodge, Ti’inkias Lodge, and Naku Lodge
- sharing of indigenous knowledge such as healing through dreams and biodiversity knowledge
- production of natural foods
- finding new partners to support alternative sustainable livelihoods
- empowering and strengthening their alliances and networks
- supporting self-determination and autonomy
We partnered with and supported the Achuar nation to form, gain ownership and manage two very successful companies:
- CEKSA, the company that manages the award-winning Kapawi Ecolodge
- Aerotsentsak, an Achuar-owned and managed airline flying to Achuar territory
Both companies demonstrate the potential for generating income and leadership capacities to support the autonomous development of the Achuar and other nationalities.
Legal and Collective Rights
We provide legal services and make available training and consulting on indigenous peoples’ collective and legal rights under local, national and international law.
Standing for the Rights of Indigenous People
We provide legal training and consulting on indigenous peoples’ collective and legal rights under local, national and international law.
Informing Historic Legal Action
Our work in Ecuador has been instrumental in the ability of indigenous communities throughout the Amazon region to effectively defend their rights, as evidenced by historic legal cases, and illegal acts including:
- The 2011 ruling against Chevron Texaco that awarded $9.5 billion in reparations for the cleanup of 18 billion gallons of oil contamination in the rainforest
- A victory in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that ruled that the State of Ecuador was responsible for violating the rights of the indigenous Kichwa people of Sarayaku by initiating oil development in their territory without first executing free, prior, and informed consultation with the community.
- The Condor-Mirador Mine Case that affects 25,000 acres in biodiverse tropical forest of the Condor Highland that included indigenous territory
- Failure of Ecuador’s government to obtain free prior and informed consultation from indigenous communities prior to the XI Oil Round auctioning off ten million acres that encompasses indigenous territory in the south-central region of the Amazon
Of all the work we do, among the most fundamental and effective is supporting indigenous nationalities of the Amazon basin to fulfill their right to self-determination.
Building Structures for Indigenous Advocacy
Of all the work we do with our indigenous partners, among the most fundamental and effective is supporting the federations representing the indigenous nationalities of the Amazon basin. Our role is not to influence or direct the federations, but to support their alliances, networks, and efforts to gain self-determination and autonomy for the indigenous nations they represent.
Federations for indigenous nationalities provide a foundation for effective political, economic, and social advocacy by indigenous communities, consolidating their efforts into a powerful force defending all of the living communities of the region.
Strengthening Cross-Border and Local Alliances
Though the Amazon’s indigenous peoples have their own ancestral governance structures, the realities of defending their territories and cultures from development for extractive industry require strategic use of governance structures and protocols to ensure recognition of collective rights in modern legal and political systems.
Our work in the Amazon region specializes in supporting both federations of indigenous nationalities whose ancestral territories span the modern borders of multiple nations, and those in different regions inside Ecuador’s borders.
It provides training for local, national, and regional federations to empower them to make legitimate decisions, including:
- Logistical support for meetings, congresses, and assemblies
- Accounting and budgeting
- Planning and management
- Intercultural education
- Alternative economic opportunities
- Public awareness of collective rights