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Friday, April 7, 2017

Rights and Resources: Indigenous Communities and Environmental Conservation

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Session Description

Indigenous people are often considered the world’s best stewards of land. But lack of clear legal rights to property and land use has led to environmental exploitation including deforestation, extractive industrial waste, and pollution. This session will explore tensions between indigenous peoples’ land rights and development–or protection–of the land by government, corporations, and conservation organizations. It will also highlight successful collaborations between these actors and indigenous people.

When | Where

10:00 AM - 11:15 AM Friday, April 7 Rhodes Trust Lecture Theatre


Panel Discussion

Session leaders

  • Mandy Gull Speaker
    Deputy Chief, Cree First Nation of WasWanipi
    Deputy Chief Mandy Gull of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi of the Eeyou Nation of James Bay. As an elected official she has been representing her community in capacities relating to economic development, environmental stewardship and protecting the Cree Way of Life. The Broadback river valley is a major old growth forest that is home to some of the last intact traditional traplines of the tallyman of Waswanipi. The community has been impact by forestry activities on 90% of their hunting grounds. The Broadback also know as Mishigamish is the last pristine forest that is home to the endangered Woodland Caribou. The community has committed to obtaining protection measures for this area as a contribution to protecting a major carbon sink in the battle against climate change. The goal of the community is to work in obtaining collaboration with the industry to protect the territory for the Woodland caribou and hopes that the Quebec government will recognize the need to provide additional protection for this precious forest.
  • Executive Director, Ut'z Che' - Guatemalan Community Forestry Association
    Víctor López Illescas, executive director of the Community Forestry Association of Guatemala Utz Che’ a national umbrella organisation of indigenous, peasant and fishermen communities protecting forests, watersprings and coastal ecosystems, sustainably managing natural resources and impulsing rural development in their territories. I am Guatemalan, but due to civil war in Guatemala I grew in Nicaragua, Cuba and Mexico, and I consider myself a Latin America Motherland citizen. In the last 15 years I have been dedicated to promote local, national and regional organisation of different indigenous, peasant and fishermen struggling for dignity, self determination, sustainable forests management and rural development. I am also part of Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests, serving as advisor for international affairs, and of The Forests Dialogue steering committee.
  • Founder and Director, Source International
    I am an Italian environmentalist and a human rights activist. I have a specialized in Valorization and Management of Natural Resources and a Master Degree in Human Rights and Conflict Management at the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa. For several years I have been dealing with violations of human rights and health damages related to the extractive industries, especially in Latin America. My studies on the impact of extractive industries on environment and health have led to changes in the mining law in Honduras, the adoption of precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights in Guatemala, the declaration of health emergency in the city of Cerro de Pasco in Peru and 50 millions dollars in compensation for an indigenous community in Mexico among others. I have been candidate environmentalist of the year by the magazine The New Ecology in 2008 received the social worker prize from the San Carlos University of Guatemala in 2006. Ashoka fellow since 2012. In 2012 I founded Source International, a non-profit organization that supports and builds the capacity of local communities and civil society in collecting evidence concerning the impact of extractive companies on communities wellbeing, including analysis of environmental pollution and bio-accumulation of toxins; guides governments and companies in taking responsibilities to prevent and address human rights violations related to the mining industry. Source International has been considered one of the 30 most innovative ideas of 2012 by the ABC Continuity Forum in Miami, it was awarded with the Tech Award in 2014, the Global Human Rights Award in 2015 and the Impact Tech Award in 2016, for the use of technology in benefit of humanity. In my spare time I love reading, writing (I published three books), hiking and ride my bike.
  • Nicole Rycroft Moderator
    Founder and Executive Director, Canopy
    Nicole is the Founder and Executive Director of award winning environmental not-for-profit, Canopy. One of Nicole’s guiding philosophies in life, “ask for what you want, you might just get it”, is foundational to her work in transforming unsustainable supply chains, catalyzing next generation solutions and advancing forest conservation and community rights. Nicole has pioneered new terrain in conservation campaigns by harnessing the purchasing influence of hundreds of the forest industry’s largest customers to broker innovative solutions proportional to the ecological realities of our time. Best known for greening the Harry Potter book series, Canopy works with more than 750 companies - including H&M, The Guardian, Penguin-Random House, Sprint and Stella McCartney - to protect endangered forests, catalyze sustainable supply chains, advance human rights and spark a green economy. Originally from Australia, Nicole now lives on the west coast of Canada. She is an Ashoka Fellow, the recipient of a Meritorious Service Cross of Canada, an enthusiastic surfer and appreciator of life.