- The Earth Defenders Toolkit is a growing collection of apps, resources and blogs where Indigenous peoples and their allies can come together to connect and mobilize.
- The goals of the toolkit are to support local autonomy, allowing Indigenous communities to maintain ownership of data and reduce the need for outside support.
- One successful app within the toolkit, Mapeo, helps Indigenous communities around the world map and monitor environmental and human rights information.
- The toolkit keeps the needs of Indigenous communities at the forefront, overcoming barriers inherent to technology, like participation and security.
Technology isn’t always a practical solution for Indigenous communities fighting for their land rights. Some technology requires internet access, which often isn’t available in remote areas. And some technology can be needlessly complicated and expensive, alienating some community members.
The Earth Defenders Toolkit is working to help overcome these barriers. It’s a living collection of tools and resources for Indigenous communities on the front lines of defending their land. The toolkit is also a space where environmental and human rights defenders and allies can connect, share stories and mobilize together. It supports local autonomy and data sovereignty while minimizing dependency on outside support.
“We’re hoping to create more spaces for community so earth defenders can share stories and successes and pain points and obstacles,” said Rudo Kemper, a program manager at Digital Democracy.
Digital Democracy, along with local partners, created the Earth Defenders Toolkit after seeing that two effective apps, Mapeo and Terrastories, closely aligned in the fight for Indigenous rights. The toolkit formally launched in June 2021.
So far, the toolkit includes helpful guides for communities looking to get started on a project, collaborative forums for allies to connect and share knowledge, and case studies from earth defenders using technology successfully. And if a land defender doesn’t know where to start, there’s an interactive tool finder that helps users learn what is out there and what might be best suited for their goals.
Many communities use social media, like Facebook and TikTok, to share information. But earth defenders often need a platform where they can share information securely without putting sensitive information on the internet, especially when a government may monitor social media platforms.