Conservation International Calls for Applicants for Indigenous Leaders Conservation Fellowship

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Fifth cohort of Fellows will explore indigenous rights to natural resources

At the World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i on Saturday, Conservation International (CI) announced the opening of its Indigenous Leaders Conservation Fellowship application period. The Fellowship, currently in its fifth year, creates opportunities for leaders from indigenous and traditional communities and organizations around the world to explore solutions to the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss using the traditional knowledge of men and women.

This year’s fellows will focus on the theme “Indigenous Peoples and Conservation: How conservation efforts can contribute to the realization and/or strengthening of indigenous peoples’ rights to their resources.” This year’s program will attempt to develop concept notes for specific projects aimed at addressing recommendations that arise from the study done by the fellows, and that can be implemented by the engaged community. Through research and/or on-the ground activities, fellows will contribute to local solutions and all levels of policymaking. The fellows are expected to work closely with their communities in the design and implementation of their study.

Since its inception, the fellowship program has enabled 15 indigenous leaders to conduct research on the value of traditional knowledge in addressing issues of biodiversity loss and climate change in their communities. These leaders were able to document traditional knowledge while using the results to inform policy discussions at the national and international levels. Past fellows have contributed to such conferences as the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties.

“Through this fellowship program, CI has provided a unique opportunity for emerging indigenous leaders to strengthen their leadership potential in respect to conservation and the traditions of their communities,” said Minnie Degawan, director of CI’s Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program. “These leaders are equipped with tools to navigate the complex world of international policymaking.”

Conservation International has a tradition of working in partnership with indigenous and traditional peoples in advancing conservation in the most biodiverse areas of the world. Part of this partnership involves assisting indigenous peoples in their capacity building needs. To support the development of new leaders who are equipped with skills and networks, CI focused the fellowship program on empowering emerging indigenous leaders.

Our work with communities is founded on CI’s rights-based approach to conservation, and our work with indigenous peoples in particular is based upon the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). When respected, FPIC guides companies, governments and NGOs in engaging with indigenous peoples in a fully participatory manner so that their rights, needs and desires are met and they are active participants in choosing (or they have a voice in deciding) projects that are best for their communities.

The call for applications for CI’s Indigenous Fellows Partnership Program was formally launched during the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i on September 3, 2015. Applications from indigenous individuals from all over the world will be accepted. The fellowship period will be from December 2016 to June 2017, and the deadline for applications is September 31, 2016.

About Conservation International
Conservation International (CI) uses an innovative blend of science, policy and partnerships to protect the nature people rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. Founded in 1987, CI works in more than 30 countries on six continents to ensure a healthy, prosperous planet that supports us all. Learn more about CI and the "Nature Is Speaking" campaign, and follow CI's work on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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Kevin Connor
Conservation International
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