LifeMosaic, a UK-based organisation, works to empower indigenous peoples globally, with a specific focus on youth. It works at the local level, providing training as well as creative toolkits and films to help indigenous peoples resist land grabs, by supporting them to instil their own development pathways. A large part of this work is about empowering indigenous youth leaders, and Life Mosaic also support communities to develop a ‘Plan de Vida’ which revives knowledge and culture, alongside economic (and other) development opportunities without compromising social justice or environmental integrity.
Where these models have been used in Latin America (where the idea originated) they been very successful in helping indigenous peoples to work together (as youths and elders) to defend vast ecosystems from destructive companies (e.g. the Sarayaku in Ecuador used a Plan de Vida to help defend their territory against oil).
We focus our support in Cameroon, where a key problem for indigenous communities has been that their customary claims to forests have often gone unrecognised, leaving them vulnerable to extractive industries and conservation interventions which marginalise local people. Life Mosaic are seen as an important partner for the Congo Basin programme as their work in Cameroon can help provide Baka communities with information about land-use changes and their existing rights, as well as facilitating self-determined alternative development pathways, expanding indigenous communities’ economic opportunity and capacity to conserve their customary forests.