Event Recap: Earth Defenders Toolkit Global Launch – Part 2

We recently shared an overview of the global launch event for Earth Defenders Toolkit which happened on July 14th. This week, we’re diving into some of the testimonies shared at the event by our partners.   

Here’s the full event recording in English:

Ecuadorian Amazon 

First, we heard from Hernan Payaguaje from our partner Alianza Ceibo, an alliance of four Indigenous nationalities in the Ecuadorian Amazon united to fight against environmental threats to their territories. Hernan spoke about how tools such as Mapeo have supported their efforts and helped to engage youth in the process of territory mapping. 

“The state of Ecuador does not know our territory. Now, with technology, we are building maps that reflect the richness of our traditional knowledge, both for our own use and so that the state sees a different story of our land and recognizes our rights.” ~ Hernan Payaguaje

Hernan Payaguaje from Alianza Ceibo describes how the Sekopai have been using Mapeo to map their territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Southeast Asia 

East West Management Institute’s Open Development Initiative (ODI), is a group that works on sustainable and equitable development through the use of open data in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. The project advocates for indigenous data sovereignty and has been working to adapt Mapeo to the Southeast Asian context. 

Direk Khruajnli from ODI partner, Raks Thai Foundation, spoke about one of their many pilot projects in Thailand where they are supporting communities to use Mapeo to create participatory maps showing household land use and community forests.

“We found that the Mapeo app is well-suited for our local communities needs. They can collect and use the data to improve the planning of communities and local government organizations.” ~ Direk Khruajnli, Raks Thai Foundation 

A community member from one of Raks Thai’s pilot projects in Thailand presents a hand drawn map of their community. 

Western Kenya 

Peter Kitelo from the Chepkitale Indigenous People Development Project (CIPDP) in Kenya spoke about how the organization is using Mapeo as a tool to negotiate Ogiek ancestral land rights with the Kenyan government and discuss shared resource use with neighboring communities. Learn more about this project.

“Mapeo can help us show how the community has been preserving these lands for a long time – how we are integral to the sustainability of this place.” ~ Peter Kitelo, CIPDP

Ogiek community members discussing plans for mapping their ancestral homelands at Mount Elgon, Kenya

Participatory feedback 

Moderator Jen Castro led attendees through a jamboard exercise seeking ideas about how the Toolkit can grow and best support the global earth defender community. Here are some highlights: 

  • Increase the visibility of earth defenders; 
  • water quality monitoring, 
  • mapping gender-based violence and safe zones; 
  • mapping legal frameworks that support earth defenders; 
  • emergency response mechanisms for crisis situations; 
  • urban experiences; 
  • stories of how mapping land and communities can help strengthen governance; 
  • highlight simple tools for mobile phone video editing so communities can tell their stories.

At the end of the recorded event, we broke into smaller breakout groups to delve deeper into the particular challenges that earth defenders face and to connect those working in specific locations, including Africa and Latin America.

A screenshot of the jamboard asking attendees to contribute ideas about how the Earth Defenders Toolkit can grow to best support communities on the frontlines of environmental defense. 

Thank you to all who attended the event, and to all of our partners who have and will continue to make Earth Defenders Toolkit possible.

What’s next?

Earth Defenders Toolkit is an expanding platform of resources and will grow over time with contributions from earth defenders and their allies. Visit the website to learn more about different ways you can get involved.