In April, the Guardians of the Forest team held a Digital Communications and Strategy workshop during a youth summit held by AMAN (the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago) in Batu Kajang, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. With almost 18 million members from more than 2,300 communities from all over Indonesia, AMAN advocates and represents indigenous interests and issues locally, nationally and internationally. During the Youth Summit, a group of youth leaders and activists were selected among the organization’s membership to participate in workshops, planning sessions, and issue area discussions for three days. As a partner organization of Guardians of the Forest global initiative, the Purpose team delivered a workshop on the first day of the summit.

The training was aimed at strengthening the use of digital tools for organizing and the strategic campaigning skills of these young leaders. The sessions and skill-share activities included: social media, strategic messaging, developing a theory of change for their campaigns, segmentation of audiences, message development and testing; plus opportunities for sharing lessons learned and successful tactics between different regions and communities.

Some of the common issues discussed were the recognition of legal land rights for indigenous communities, the violence against activists and environmental defenders, increasing indigenous representation at every level of government, the loss of forest lands due to palm oil and extractive industries, the tension between their indigenous traditions and beliefs and other religious groups, and the Indigenous Peoples law currently under consideration in Indonesia.

As the Guardians of the Forest global initiative continues in Indonesia, Mesoamerica, and the Amazon, the young leadership and organizing efforts at the local and international level by indigenous communities will be key in fighting to recognize the role of these communities as key partners against climate change. The Purpose team looks forward to continuing to work closely with AMAN in 2018 to keep building their strategic communications and campaigning capacities and will be back in September when Indonesia hosts the Global Land Forum in Bandung, where the issue of land rights and the challenges Indonesia currently faces between policy and implementation will be discussed.