by Permian Global

September 18, 2023

Welcome to The Permian Podcast, where today we explore the critical intersections of conservation, community, and fairness. Today, we have a special episode focusing on the pivotal role of Indigenous People and Local Communities in our conservation efforts. We’ll also delve into the top three important community considerations when developing conservation projects and discuss strategies to ensure fairness in these efforts.

Permian Global · Permian Podcast (Epi. 1.) Itala Yepez


Indigenous People and Conservation

Our first question today is a fundamental one: Why do Indigenous People and Local Communities play such a pivotal role in conservation efforts? To help us understand this, we have Itala Yepez, Community Strategy Director at Permian Global and life-long conservationist. Welcome, Itala.

Thank you, Mike. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Let’s start with our first question. Why do Indigenous People and Local Communities play such a pivotal role in conservation efforts?

Itala: Imagine living in a forest where every sound and change carries a meaning. That’s the daily reality of indigenous peoples and/or local communities. These folks are the heart and soul of the forests, having lived there for generations. Their connection isn’t just a matter of being residents; it’s a profound bond that’s grown through centuries of traditions, stories, and experiences. This intimate relationship means they’ve got an encyclopedia of forest knowledge in their heads, what we call Traditional Ecological Knowledge. They understand the ecosystem’s rhythms, the behavior of its creatures, and the secrets of its plants. So, when we talk about conserving these spaces, it’s a no-brainer: Indigenous peoples and/or Local Communities aren’t just participants; they’re the main characters. Without their insight and guidance, it’s like trying to solve a puzzle without the picture on the box.

That’s fascinating. Can you share some examples of how this traditional knowledge has contributed to successful conservation initiatives?

Itala: Certainly, I’d be happy to.

The indigenous communities in the Andes have traditionally managed the high-altitude Páramo ecosystem, sustainable agriculture, water and fire management etc., are some of their main traditional practices, ensuring the conservation of its unique biodiversity and regulating water supply for downstream communities.

In several parts of Africa, local communities have established community conserved areas where traditional norms and rules regulate the use of resources, often resulting in successful wildlife conservation.

Community Considerations in Project Development

Our second question today is about the top three important community considerations when developing conservation projects. Itala, could you please share your insights on this?

Itala: Absolutely. When developing projects, it’s crucial to prioritize inclusivity and participation, respect for traditional knowledge and practices, and ensuring equitable benefit sharing.

Can you elaborate on these considerations and why they are so vital?

Itala: Certainly, let’s use an analogy. Imagine you’re planning a big party at a friend’s place. Before you bring out the speakers and the snacks, you’d first ask if they’re cool with it, right? That’s our first step: Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. It’s about making sure the community is not just informed but genuinely on board with what’s happening. Now, once they’ve given the green light, instead of just imposing your own playlist, you’d ask them about their favorite tunes. This is the participatory approach, where everyone chips in their ideas and concerns, making the project a collective endeavor. And lastly, it’s all fun and games until the bill comes in! When using their resources or changing their landscape, it’s only fair that they benefit too. This could be through jobs, training, or sharing the project’s revenue. Essentially, it’s about making sure the community doesn’t just give, but they also get something valuable in return.

Our final question is about strategies to ensure fairness in conservation efforts. What can organizations and individuals do to promote fairness in these initiatives?

Itala: Fairness in conservation is essential, and it involves respecting principles like Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, equitable resource distribution, transparency, accountability, and adherence to legal frameworks. I’ll discuss how these strategies can be effectively implemented.

When we talk about fairness in conservation, think of it like a friendship. In any solid friendship, you value transparency. It’s about being honest, laying all the cards on the table, and making sure there are no secrets or hidden intentions. This is exactly how conservation projects should be with communities: transparent from the get-go. But you know, like any good relationship, it needs regular check-ins. That’s our second step. Regularly monitoring and getting feedback ensures that if something’s off, we catch it early and adjust. And lastly, just as there are rules in a game to make sure everyone plays fair, we’ve got rules in conservation too. These legal and policy frameworks act as the referees, ensuring that everything’s on the up-and-up and the community’s rights and roles aren’t just an afterthought but are actually at the heart of the action.

Thank you, Itala, for sharing your valuable insights on Indigenous involvement in conservation, community considerations in project development, and strategies for ensuring fairness. We hope this episode has provided our listeners with a deeper understanding of the crucial link between conservation, community, and equity.


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