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Newsletter  April, Issue 2017-1
2017 took off with a flying start. The first Indigenous-centred Global Environments Network event—the North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange 2017—was held early February in Mexico. In this newsletter, we are sharing information on this event, and revealing what else is in store for 2017. The exciting line-up of activities and events planned for this year is a testament to the year we had in 2016: a time we spent reflecting on past actions, lessons and successes, and concurrently, strategising and developing our expanding regional and international programmes. We are happy to share our 2016 Annual Report and include snippets here, for your easy reading.
Collaborating in the Face of Change: Strategies for Biocultural Protection and Defense
From February 9-14, 65 Indigenous community leaders, facilitators and allies gathered on Comcaac territory in Sonora, Mexico for the 2017 North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange (NACELE). Participants came from 12 different Indigenous nations, and the event included interactive workshops and presentations on territory defense, communications, local economies, food sovereignty, biodiversity, and art and transformation. Read the GEN story on participants' reflections, photos and possibilities for future collaborations that emerged from NACELE 2017.
Global Environments Network (GEN)
Early last year, our GEN team announced plans to dedicate time consolidating and activating the Network, towards activating the community for closer collaborations. We interviewed GEN members on the impact, relevance, and accessibility of GEN, launched a quarterly community-exclusive newsletter, with the seventh edition to be released soon, and worked through intensive planning and development stages to create the InterNetwork, launched early this year.
We renewed our vision to reflect our direction: engaging in long-term, collaborative work to build networks of mutual support for Indigenous nations and peoples, as they continue to face challenges defending their land and waters. Throughout 2016, we were busy laying the groundwork for events and activities in North America, developing partnerships with North American NACELE and Global Environments Summer Academy (GESA) alumni to promote Indigenous sovereignty and networking.
Sonora, in Mexico
Help Bring Standing Rock Water Protectors to Loma de Bácum
Maria Anabela Carlón Flores is a Yaqui leader, a GDF collaborator, and a human rights lawyer. Her village, Loma de Bácum, is standing against a pipeline that the transnational company IEnova is attempting to build through their territory without the community’s consent. Despite a legal document issued by the local authority that mandates that the company stop any building activity, construction continues. Anabela has been threatened for her opposition, and in December 2016 was kidnapped with her husband. Both have since been released, but they and others in the community remain in danger for their resistance to the pipeline.
As a core mandate of GDF’s North America programme, we support and strengthen Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination across Turtle Island. As Loma de Bácum faces the same threat as Standing Rock – a pipeline through their territory, we call for your help to carry on the great momentum of the Turtle Island Indigenous sovereignty movement, and help us bring Standing Rock water protectors to the Yaqui community of Loma de Bácum in Sonora, Mexico to share strategies, build relationships, bring media attention to this issue, and strengthen the bonds of Indigenous solidarity across Turtle Island.
Please read our full statement and consider making a donation.
As we gear up for the second Americas-based regional academy (Okanagan Environmental Leadership Camp 2017, 10-17 June 2017), we are inspired by feedback from organisers, mentors and participants from the Latin American Regional Socio-Environmental Leadership Academy, held two years ago. Ana Elia Ramón Hidalgo (far right) wrote a blog post last year, reflecting on her entire experience, as co-organiser, writing about how it all began as a discussion when she attended the Global Environments Summer Academy in 2014.
PUBLICATION: Lessons for Research Policy and Practice: The Case of Co-enquiry Research With Rural Communities was published in the Journal of Research Practice, Volume 12, Issue 1 (Article M1, 2016). The article consolidates common experiences gained through multi-disciplinary research carried out in field sites in Mexico, Brazil and Bolivia during the 3-year COMBIOSERVE project on assessing the effectiveness of community-based management strategies for biocultural diversity conservation. Information on COMBIOSERVE can be found here.
In the Mediterranean
In 2016, we concluded two major collaborative projects, funded by Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and Darwin Initiative, that supported High Atlas communities in Morocco. Through a process of ecological, floristic research and socioeconomic research, in-situ and ex-situ conservation activities, and development of a participatory water resource action plan, thriving community plant nurseries were successfully established in the rural communes of Ait M’hamed and Imegdale. These efforts aimed at addressing threats to the sustainable harvest of vulnerable plant resources and solving severe water scarcity and quality problems, while conserving biodiversity and improving local livelihoods.
Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund features our work with Imegdale and Ait M’hamed communities. Read their blog, In Morocco's High Atlas Mountains, Seeds of Progress.
Read and learn about Medicinal Plants in Imegdale, a children's booklet created and distributed to school students in the High Atlas. Download it from our website.
With the launch of the 3-year project—Integrated approach to plant conservation in the Moroccan High Atlas—in 2016, funded by the MAVA Foundation, we continued our work on community nurseries, enrichment planting and livelihoods, and began new activities such as documenting local cultural practices of conservation, climate change modelling and ecological monitoring of agdals, while also expanding and enhancing processes begun under our earlier projects.
A Plants Identification Workshop was held at the Regional Herbarium of Marrakech's Cadi Ayyad University in July 2016. Led by Dr. Hassan Rankou, the workshop was attended by university students and community researchers.
GDF collaborators work with Imegdale and Ait M’Hamed community researchers to build common understanding, with a particular focus on cultural practices for conservation. Read about the Community Researcher Workshop and Exchange held in October 2016.
Through existing projects, in 2017 we launched the the High Atlas Cultural Landscapes programme and continue to focus on addressing the conservation and sustainable use of wild useful plants, cultural practices of conservation and community conserved areas in the Moroccan High Atlas. On 1 April 2017, we launched a second project funded by the MAVA Foundation to develop and implement targeted actions to halt the loss of biodiversity using ecological restoration methods and applying sustainable biodiversity management practices, enhance ecologically-sound local economies by combining traditional land and resource use with innovative approaches, including sustainable commercialisation of plant harvests, and work with communities to strengthen local governance practices that sustain biodiversity and wellbeing.
Also in Morocco, work on the ethnobotanical and permaculture garden at Dar Taliba boarding house continued at full force throughout 2016, adopting a participatory approach that applies the traditional ecological knowledge and know-how of nearby High Atlas Amazigh communities while introducing new ways of doing things to complement customary and local methods in a changing world. Dar Taliba is featured on several online portals now:
Dar Taliba is featured on, Germany's international broadcaster, in a video by Eco@Africa. Watch Relearning Lost Traditions in Morocco here
Dar Taliba is now listed as an Edible Schoolyard Project, joining a network that connects educators around the world to build and share edible education curriculum!
We are looking foward to a new irrigation system at Dar Taliba and permaculture training for boarders and nearby community members, made possible through new funds from Riesing. We are currently establishing the modalities of the project with our project partners (Moroccan Biodiversity and Livelihoods Association, Radiant, Resing and Dar Taliba). More here.
Upcoming Events in 2017
Okanagan Environmental Leadership Camp in Canada (10-17 June)
European Community Exchange on Seed Diversity and Sovereignty in Barcelona, Spain (September) 
We have also set the date for the sixth Global Environments Summer Academy, to be held in Oxford in 2018. The Mediterranean Regional Academy in Morocco is scheduled for March 2018.
More details can be found on the Global Environments Network website events page.
GDF & GEN Team changes
In 2016, Angela Easby (left), a GESA 2015 alumna, joined us as GEN Coordinator, taking over the helm from Silvia Forno, who is now engaged as GEN Strategic Advisor. 
More recently, in April this year, we welcomed Christina Ashford (right) as Programme Manager for GDF-UK, whose role is to ensure the successful implementation of the Mediterranean Programme.
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