Indigenous Leaders Conservation Fellowship

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Through this fellowship, we are creating opportunities for indigenous leaders to explore solutions to the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss using the traditional knowledge of men and women.


Indigenous and traditional peoples’ knowledge, together with biodiversity and climate-related science, can help communities facing increasing threats on their lands and territories to confront the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. At the same time, a better understanding of how men and women interact with their environment, and the development of culturally appropriate methods to better engage everyone in management efforts, will help to confront the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Ranging in length from 8 to 12 months, this fellowship provides funding to support a research project and funding for professional development, such as attending conferences or taking classes.



2014 – 2015 Fellowship information

The Indigenous Leaders Conservation Fellowship creates opportunities for leaders from indigenous and traditional peoples communities and organizations in east Africa, Asia (Mekong Delta & Indonesia) and the Amazon basin. The fellowships are co-sponsored by regional indigenous organizations: Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordination Committee (IPACC), Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) and Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica (COICA) in the Amazon basin. Through research and/or on-the ground activities, fellows will contribute to local solutions and all levels of policymaking. This year, the fellowship will focus on the following themes:

  • How traditional knowledge can contribute to biodiversity conservation and/or climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • Gender dynamics and/or women’s empowerment within natural resource management (NRM) and traditional knowledge

Fellowship details

This nine-month fellowship (September 2014 – May 2015) will be offered to three fellows, one from each region (east Africa, Asia and Amazon basin). One fellowship will focus on traditional knowledge/climate change/biodiversity, while two will focus on gender dynamics/women’s empowerment in NRM/traditional knowledge.


Application Process

The deadline for application is June 15, 2014. Please include the following information in the application packet:

  1. CV or resume of the applicant with a copy of personal identification
  2. A nomination letter from the sponsoring community and/or indigenous organization
  3. A project proposal, following the proposal guidelines
  4. Proposed budget worksheet
  5. A completed application form

Selection process

The selection committee will interview finalists by phone or Skype the weeks of July 15-31, 2014. The fellowship recipients will be announced August 1, and fellows will begin on or after September 1.

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EditSection subtitle:The current and past fellows are a diverse group of passionate individuals from around the world. They are conservationists, community activists, farmers, scientists and more. Take some time to learn more about each of them.
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Edit Item Title:Arcangel Agapito, Colombia, 2013
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Edit Item Text:Arcangel Agapito is a member of the Puinave indigenous people located in the State of Inirida in the Colombian Amazon. Agapito is systematizing the traditional knowledge applied in the use of soil, water and biodiversity in the indigenous communities in his region. His work will be based on interviews with elders, observation of family farms and meetings with communities to review their seasonal calendars and the use of traditional tools. He hopes to provide the community this research to preserve and replicate best practices using traditional knowledge. Agapito is actively engaged with the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC) and participated in the Amazon Summit II organized by COICA.
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Edit Item Title:Yance Arizona, Indonesia, 2013
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Edit Item Text:Yance Arizona is a member of the Kerinci Tribe in Indonesia. He is program manager of Law & Society at the Epistema Institute and a lecturer at the Law Department of President University. In May 2013, the Constitutional Court of Indonesia’s decision No. 35/PUU-X/2012 confirmed that customary forests are forests located in indigenous territories and should no longer be considered as state forests. During his fellowship, Arizona plans to identify indigenous traditional practices to promote conservation-based forest management in the Kirinci District of Sumatra Island and provide a mechanism for legal recognition of customary forest to implement the Constitutional Court’s decision.
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Edit Item Title:Beatrice Lempaira, Kenya, 2013
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Edit Item Text:Beatrice Lempaira is a Maasai woman from a semi-nomadic community northwest of Mount Kenya. After graduating from university, she returned to her community, where she currently manages the collection of group ranches called the Naibunga Conservancy. Throughout her fellowship, Lempaira plans to document traditional knowledge on planned grazing (a practice where livestock are made to mimic how herds of wildebeest and other wild animals use the land) and explore other traditional management techniques that could help these communities be more resilient in the face of a changing climate. Lempaira also plans to conduct research about the different roles men and women play in decision-making for livestock management.
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Edit Item Title:Ikal Angelei, Kenya, 2012
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Edit Item Text:Ikal Angelei is from the Lake Turkana region of Kenya. A former banker, her interest in environmental justice for her community and other neighboring communities led her to found Friends of Lake Turkana, a community trust, in October 2009. Its focus is to promote environmental justice, resource rights and community rights within the Lake Turkana Basin, with the goal of increasing Lake Turkana basin communities’ participation in environmental policy protection, sustainable management and use of natural resources as well as increased participation of communities in the development and governance of their resources. Angelei is also a recipient of the 2012 Goldman Prize, the world’s largest prize for grassroots environmentalists, in recognition of her work in the Lake Turkana Basin.
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Edit Item Title:Zenón Gomel Apaza, Peru, 2012
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Edit Item Text:Zenón Gomel Apaza is a smallholder farmer in the rural community of Pucara, in the Puno region of Peru. Gomel Apaza is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in natural sciences for development, with an emphasis on agricultural production systems. With the nonprofit organization Asociación Savia Andina Pucará (ASAP), which he founded more than 15 years ago, he is developing measures to strengthen the capacities of indigenous peasant communities in Andean agriculture and the protection of biodiversity and the environment. ASAP is also working on generating proposals for policy guidelines based on traditional knowledge to incorporate into policies on regional and national climate change issues. Gomel Apaza was awarded a 2006 Rolex Award for Enterprise, under the environmental issues theme for his work on generating policy guidelines for climate change, based on traditional knowledge. He is the only Peruvian to receive the Rolex award.
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Edit Item Title:Diana Nascimento, Brazil, 2012
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Edit Item Text:Diana Nascimento is Kaingang from the Paraná state of Brazil. She received her undergraduate degree in environmental management with a focus on coastal environmental management. She was awarded a seat at the Federal University of Paraná-UFPR, which offers seven seats for indigenous students from all over Brazil. After graduation, she intends to return to her community with the scientific knowledge she has gained at university and work in conjunction with the traditional knowledge she and her community already possess to contribute to environmental and cultural enhancement of the Kaingang peoples.
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Edit Item Title:Dominique Bikaba, DRC, 2011
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Edit Item Text:Dominique Bikaba is the executive director of Strong Roots, a local organization in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that promotes conservation and sustainable development through educating and empowering the local and indigenous communities that live in the region of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park, with a particular focus on protecting the eastern lowland gorilla. Dominique is currently a master’s candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Services, where he works at the Environmental Leadership and Training Initiative. Bikaba is also a co-founding member of the Pole Pole Foundation, a 2010 Equator Prize winner.
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Edit Item Title:Juan Cusanero Elías, Guatemala, 2011
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Edit Item Text:Juan Cusanero Elías is an agro-ecological and environmental engineer from the Chimaltenango region of Guatemala. He works for Sotz'il, a Guatemalan indigenous environmental organization, and belongs to the Kaqchikel Maya people. Though his secondary education was interrupted due to an inability to pay school fees, as well as because of the armed conflict in Guatemala, he later won a scholarship that allowed him to return to school and train as a primary school teacher. In 1990, Elias joined an agricultural foundation in the region where he accomplished his first community outreach work and later began to participate in the country’s indigenous movement on behalf of various indigenous groups. Some of these activities include participation in the commemoration of 500 years of Spanish invasion, the Peace Process, the ratification of ILO Convention 169, resistance to Plan Puebla Panama and work with the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.
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Edit Item Title:Hindu Oumarou Ibrahim, Chad, 2011
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Edit Item Text:Hindu Oumarou Ibrahim is an expert in indigenous rights, adaptation and mitigation to climate change and participatory management of projects. She is a coordinator of the Indigenous Women’s Association of Chad (AFPAT), as well as a representative of the Sahel region for the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC) and vice president and representative of the indigenous peoples of UNEP Major Group since 2009. Ibrahim is a former fellow of the United Nations program on indigenous issues and a former intern of the ILO Geneva Convention 169.
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Edit Item Title:Akosita Rokomate, Fiji, 2011
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Edit Item Text:Akosita Rokomate is the coordinator for the Community Centered Conservation (C3) Fiji programme. Rokomate holds a bachelor’s degree in geography and marine studies from the University of the South Pacific (USP) and was employed part time as a research assistant and tutor for the School of Islands and Oceans at USP for three years. She joined C3 in early 2010 and is responsible for initiating and managing the Fiji programme, working closely with locals at the community level as well as with foreign counterparts. Rokomate is also a 2012 Conservation Leadership Programme winner.
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