The Earth Defenders Toolkit is a collaborative space for earth defenders and their allies. The Toolkit provides a growing collection of resources and training materials for communities on the frontlines of the struggle to defend critical ecosystems around the world, and community networks for users to connect and share their experiences.

The mission of the Earth Defenders Toolkit is to provide and promote approaches to using technology in a way that supports local autonomy and ownership over tools and data, and reduces reliance on outside support.

The Earth Defenders Toolkit is a project of Digital Democracy and co-created by Alianza Ceibo, Amazon Conservation Team, Amazon Frontlines, ECA Amarakaeri, Forest Peoples Programme, Open Development Initiative, Raks Thai, and South Rupununi District Council.

How does it work?

A Cofan monitor in Ecuador using Mapeo Mobile

The Earth Defenders Toolkit is an evolving resource and expanding community. This first version focuses on a select number of tasks and needs that partner communities facing urgent threats have highlighted as being among the most important. These include:

  • Document & understand rapid changes & threats to territory
  • Create maps to communicate history & connection to land
  • Document human rights & environmental abuses
  • Reinforce local voices with concrete evidence

Future materials will address other pressing needs, such as language revitalization and loss, environmental data collection, advocacy and storytelling, and secure offline communications. 

Site visitors have access to all available content and the ability to contribute by adding new materials to the Toolkit, writing blogs, translating existing content, or simply by joining the community forum and saying hello. 

What’s inside the Toolkit?

  • Helpful guides for communities interested in getting started on an earth defender project. 
  • An interactive tool finder to help users learn about tool(s) that are well-suited for their goals and context.
  • Featured tools that were created specifically with and for earth defender communities.
  • Case studies from earth defender communities who are successfully using technology to their advantage.
  • A collaborative forum for communities and their allies to connect and collaborate by sharing knowledge and asking questions. 

Why now?

The Earth Defenders Toolkit is the result of decades of work with communities facing urgent threats of environmental and political abuses. The comprehensive Toolkit collects critical resources and connects users with the appropriate technology for their particular needs. The collaborative platform cultivates knowledge sharing and ensures ongoing improvements to the toolkit.

The Toolkit was conceived long before the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the rapidly changing global context has made the need for such a resource all the more evident. While travel has been restricted and many projects have been halted, unchecked resource extraction continues to threaten the lives of Indigenous peoples and the future of the entire planet.

The Earth Defenders Toolkit is a critical channel for ensuring that frontline communities have access to effective tools to defend their homes.

Illustrations by Vidushiy Yadav