Diferentiated Local Development

“For us, the environment is everything that exists, the universe, space, sacred sites, seasons, the forest, the rivers, the animals, the fish – everything that is living as well as things that are not living, like stones. Everything is sacred because it has an origin, and we should respect and take care of it. We are only a small part in all of this”  ~Roberto Marín, Barasano ethnic group and leader of ACAIPI-
While indigenous peoples of the Northwest Amazon face considerable threats to their ancestral territories and autonomy, they also have opportunities to participate in decision-making and politics, and the right to representation at all levels of government. The challenge is to develop models of local indigenous governance rooted in their traditional culture and values. Gaia Amazonas believes that local indigenous governance, in coordination with local and national governments, translates into the strengthening of indigenous peoples as the main actors in conserving the Amazon rainforest. This approach can also transform State programs – especially for health and education – to be more efficient, more relevant to local needs, and have greater fiscal transparency. In Colombia, legislation allows local indigenous organizations to become public entities responsible for the management and administration of their territories, and receive State funds for this purpose. Gaia Amazonas has provided training and capacity building for elders and younger indigenous leaders to establish local organizations, known as AATIs – Associations of Traditional Indigenous Authorities. We enable them to develop the tools to effectively assume rights and responsibilities for their territories – taking into account that each region has its own particularities in historic, ethnic and political characteristics, requiring a diversity of strategies. One of the most significant achievements, in Amazonas, has been the creation of a Permanent Table for Inter-administrative Coordination – known as the Mesa – where AATIs successfully dialogue with government for the decentralization of education, health and other state programs. Evaluations show an increase in cost-effectiveness, relevance and transparency of programs managed by the indigenous organizations. Gaia Amazonas has provided training and capacity building for 18 AATIs to develop their “life plans” and establsh local indigenous governance, in the departments of Amazonas, Guainía and Vaupés. [child_pages width=”33%”]

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