Conservation International partners with Indigenous peoples and local communities — critical stewards of the environment who are often on the front lines of conservation.
We work to ensure that the conservation community implements a people-centered approach to conservation, honoring our commitments to Indigenous peoples and local communities and aiming to ensure that men and women can fully engage in, and equitably benefit from, conservation and livelihoods initiatives.
Effective conservation can only occur with and through the cooperation of Indigenous peoples and local communities living in and around protected areas — and elsewhere.
Indigenous peoples and local communities steward vast landscapes — many of which are important ecosystems that achieve conservation outcomes while also preserving cultural, spiritual and other values.
Research shows that the lands of Indigenous peoples and local communities are better managed and experience less species decline than other areas. Indigenous peoples’ knowledge and practices, perspectives and rights to land and benefit-sharing are essential to meeting local and global conservation goals.
Yet the communities that are closest to nature and most impacted by environmental destruction and climate change still struggle for recognition, respect, financial resources and a seat at the table when it comes to planning conservation and development.
Indigenous peoples and local communities hold an estimated 65 percent of global land area under customary systems — 18 percent of which is legally recognized.
Women are responsible for at least 80 percent of food production in developing countries, yet they own less than 20 percent of land and receive only 5 percent of agricultural support services.
In the past 60 years, at least 40 percent of all conflicts within countries were linked to natural resources.
Conservation International’s Center for Communities and Conservation works to make conservation more inclusive, equitable and transparent by improving social and environmental governance to achieve more lasting, effective conservation and human well-being outcomes. The center recognizes and supports Indigenous peoples and local community stewards — both women and men — and ensures that tools are co-created with communities to inform decisions on the design and implementation of conservation approaches that benefit them. The center’s support of women as conservation stewards and decision-makers is central to this work.
We focus on a "rights" framework that supports Indigenous peoples and local communities and conservation:
Inclusion and empowerment
Sustainability and peace
The Center for Communities and Conservation connects Indigenous peoples and local communities to funding, technology and decision-makers, while partnering on training in conflict analysis, climate change adaptation and support for community-led development. Combined with existing knowledge, these tools and resources support Indigenous peoples and local communities in their efforts to secure their natural resources and participate in decisions that affect them.
How we work
Conservation led by Indigenous peoples and local communities
Conservation International supports conservation initiatives and activities that are designed and led by Indigenous people and local communities.
© Thomas Muller
© Conservation International/photo by Min Fan
© Cristina Mittermeier/sealegacy
© Lucas Bustamante
Human rights and conservation
Every person on Earth has the right to food, water and a healthy environment — and to participate in decisions that affect their lives.
© Conservation International/photo by Scott Mills
© Troy K Shinn/ www.troyshinn.com
© Jessica Scranton
© Trond Larsen
Women in conservation leadership
Conservation International recognizes that women are powerful agents for conservation, and aims to ensure that women can fully engage in, and equitably benefit from, our work.
© Conservation International photo by Katie Bryden
© CI Peru/Marlon del Águila
© Benjamin Drummond
© Joshua Bousel/Flickr Creative Commons. Yasuní National Park in Ecuador
© Art Wolfe/www.artwolfe.com
© Benjamin Drummond
© Robin Moore/iLCP
© Benjamin Drummond