Stories from the Grassroots: The Greengrants Blog
Apr 24, 2017 | No Comments
Congratulations to the winners of the 2017 Goldman Environmental Prize for their efforts to safeguard the environment and their communities.
We’re especially proud to acknowledge Rodrigo Tot, the 2017 prizewinner from Guatemala, who helped lead his community to a landmark court decision protecting local indigenous land rights and preventing the expansion of an environmentally destructive nickel mine.
To ensure recognition of the rights of his people, the Maya Q’eqchi, from the efforts of mining companies to take over their lands, Rodrigo worked closely with an organization called Defensoria Q’eqchi.
Global Greengrants Fund has given five grants to Defensoria Q’eqchi since 2005 in support of local efforts to spread awareness of the environmental destruction the mining has caused on local lands, and help the indigenous community take legal action to protect their lands from mining companies and the Guatemalan government. Rodrigo has worked with Silvel Elias, an expert on our Central America Advisory Board, and donor Elizabeth Weber (pictured below with Rodrigo) to safeguard the rights of the community.
In 2005, $3000 was awarded to Defensoria Q’eqchi to build the capacity of communities to challenge a Canadian mining firm seeking to extract nickel resources in the region and take over their lands. The money was used to develop educational radio broadcasts and publish other informative materials to ensure that local communities were given the opportunity to participate in the public consultation process in an informed and responsible manner.
In December 2015, another grant was awarded to strengthen the process of restitution of land rights for the Q’eqchi people and support the process under review by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Using these resources, Defensoría Q’eqchi worked to satisfy the mandate from the Constitutional Court to secure land registration for the community and to file municipal records to establish legal ownership of lands for local community members. The case is still being reviewed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with an expedited status.
Most recently, in November 2016, $4,000 was awarded to provide legal and political training to indigenous communities in the region to continue to resist mining activities, sustain their livelihoods, and ensure the conservation of their natural resources.
As Rodrigo and his community continue their efforts to secure land titles, we stand in solidarity and continue to offer our support.
Congratulations again to all six prizewinners! We’d like to thank each and every one of you for your inspirational work to protect the environment and the rights of the people who call it home.
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