Local and indigenous communities are the people living closest to the largest percentage of the world’s biodiversity. “They hold unique knowledge. And their interaction with nature is so deep . . . if we don’t hear what they have to say, we’re missing this important piece of conservation and I don’t think we will be able to solve the environmental crisis if we don’t work together with them.” – Dr. Micaela Camino, Partner ECA and Founder and General Director of Proyecto Quimilero, Argentina
The most ethical and effective way to safeguard the future of our planet’s biodiversity is to respectfully engage with and tap into the living knowledge of local and indigenous communities who are critical partners in conservation. They must be supported to play a leadership role in engaging in biodiversity policy and upholding human and indigenous peoples’ rights.
The ECA is fuelled by the experience of a dedicated and growing group of conservationists representing more than 500 years of proven, locally-led, community-based conservation approaches in 29 countries. Their goal is to create a global shift towards ethical conservation. They are delivering resources and mentorships for conservation practitioners to implement a change from traditional, top-down conservation approaches to programs that successfully support the involvement and leadership of local and indigenous communities.
This inclusive movement, sparked by Snow Leopard Trust’s 2022 Whitley Gold Award, grew as an offshoot of our award-winning PARTNERS Principles training program. The Principles were formulated by Snow Leopard Trust Executive Director Dr. Charu Mishra. These comprehensive lessons offer guidance to both novice and veteran conservationists on building respectful partnerships with local and indigenous communities. The trainings offer insights and knowledge that are not exclusive to snow leopard range countries and can be broadly applied to the world of conservation.
The ECA seeks to ignite a global campaign to make effective, ethical, community-led conservation more attainable. Educational videos and toolkits embrace the experience and knowledge of practitioners and leaders working to protect a diversity of wildlife, from lions in Kenya to red pandas in Nepal. The common thread throughout is the need to build inclusive, collaborative partnerships with local and indigenous peoples to ensure the survival of threatened species and the ecosystems we all depend on.
Special thanks to these organizations for their support of the Ethical Conservation Alliance – Whitley Fund for Nature, Melkus Family Foundation, Acacia Conservation Fund, Kenmour M. & Marjorie Spencer Wild Animal Fund at Bainbridge Community Foundation and Snow Leopard Trust.
Photo credits: Ewaso Lions & Anthony Ochieng – The Ewaso Lion’s conservation organization’s Mama Simba program in Northern Kenya partners with Samburu women to conserve lions and to give them a greater voice in conservation.