“Apart from the devastation of biodiversity”, says Fiona McAlpine, Communications and Media Manager of The Borneo Project, “the loss of land comes hand in hand with a loss of culture for the people who have been living in, relying on and protecting these forests for millennia. Sadly, the human story is often forgotten in these debates, which is why we strive to amplify indigenous voices”.
To put together the resources needed to launch an international campaign from the village level, the organization mobilizes support in the Bay Area with the aim of strengthening existing campaigns on the ground, relying on a surprising number of people in the Bay Area who are super engaged with the issues (academics at Berkeley, ex-Peace Corps who were stationed in Sarawak, climate justice gurus, etc.).
“On a practical level”, says Fiona, “we listen carefully to the needs on the ground by keeping communications channels open and elevating voices from the grassroots, rather than ever speaking on someone’s behalf. We create opportunities for indigenous leaders to attend international meetings and forge alliances with other indigenous struggles around the world”.
One of the most successful campaigns that The Borneo Project supported so far was defeating the Baram Dam in 2016, which was the result of an enormous grassroots campaign that went on for many years. With two dams already built, communities displaced and dramatic environmental and social consequence, things truly reached breaking-point. Through picket resistance and strategically placed blockades that would pop up whenever they were removed, people resisted until the dam plans were shelved and land rights were restored.
Author : The Slowear Journal