News / 9 May 2012

‘Indigenous Youth Leaders’ are working together to maintain their natural environment

Megaprojects in South America like large dams and mines are a threat to the natural habitat of indigenous tribes. Cross Cultural Bridges - in cooperation with Both ENDS - therefore started a two-year project to encourage young indigenous leaders in the Amazon and Andes area to defend their rights. Ralph Schreinemachers of Cross Cultural Bridges came to visit Both ENDS to report on the project that he participated in as a trainer.

The new generation
The root of the problem is often poor communication with the local population. "They hardly get the chance to express their opinion on megaprojects and receive too little information on the consequences of these projects" says Schreinemachers. "In exchange for large sums of money or other rewards, tribe leaders often give permission to inplement these projects without the consent of the rest of the tribe. The indigenous leaders are thereby endangering the population and their natural environment and entire communities are losing their land and income because of it". Cross Cultural Bridges and Both ENDS have focused on the young generation of indigenous leaders for this project.

'To live well'
During several trainings, twenty young leaders have been given the opportunity to share their experiences and gain knowledge on the dynamics behind the construction of megaprojects. They are trained, for instance, to negotiate with policymakers and are taught how to get insight into who is responsible for these kinds of projects. Knowing their rights and more importantly where and how to claim them, will enable these young leaders to defend their communities more effectively in the future. By sticking to their own customs and rituals, they send a powerful message within the concept 'to live well'.


The trainings are obviously showing results. Creating (self)confidence is of great importance when building resistance to corruption and exploitation. Recently some tribe leaders have openly rejected bribery and turned down rewards. "These issues are very sensitive but we are trying to make them discussable in an informal setting", says Schreinemachers.


Read more about this subject