IFIP Connections: Forging New Alliances to Protect Sacred Places in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia

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By Liliana Madrigal, Senior Director of Program Operations

“As one of Amazon Conservation Team’s (ACT) founders, I have long observed IFIP with a feeling of affinity, as both organizations were born in the last decade of the 20th century—certainly a more idealistic time in the NGO world—with a focus on Indigenous empowerment.

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ACT officially joined IFIP as an affiliate in early 2014. Shortly thereafter, we co-hosted a funders briefing where Kogi political and spiritual leaders spoke about their vision to protect and manage sacred sites located on the northern coast of Colombia. In September 2014, we participated in IFIP’s largest conference in history, the World Summit on Indigenous Philanthropy in New York City. One of the sessions, “Reclaiming Land and Preserving Culture: Innovative and Collaborative Approaches in Colombia and Mexico,” allowed both the Kogis and ACT to present some of our work before a wonderful audience interested in innovative and replicable strategies, especially intercultural education and Life Plan creation (Indigenous perspective of their collective development/community plans or aspirations). We spoke on the promotion of Indigenous culture and land management, emphasizing the role of women leaders. I paneled with our longtime partner, Flora Macas Zhigue, principal of the groundbreaking Yachaikury School of the Inga people in Colombia. The panel also included speakers from Semillas, an organization that supports women’s groups and Indigenous leaders in Mexico, and representatives of both the blue moon fund and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, who helped moderate the discussions.”

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