Skoll Foundation


Mindy Lubber on Clean Transportation, Clean Energy Investments and Green Bonds

September 16, 2014 by

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is hosting the Climate Summit to engage leaders and advance climate action and ambition on Sept. 23. Mindy Lubber of Ceres, who will attend, wrote three columns looking ahead.  The Summit will serve as a public platform for high-level leaders.

In The Huffington Post, she said clean transportation is driving us toward a low-carbon future:

“Making cars and trucks dramatically more efficient and developing alternatives to petroleum is a sea change. It is an epic transformation along the lines of switching from the horse and buggy to the horseless carriage, or from landlines to smart phones. Entrepreneurs, investors, and corporations are sniffing out opportunities. Bets are being placed. Fortunes will be made. And we need to be doing even more.”

In the Christian Science Monitor, she said investments in clean energy pay off:

“Nationally, electric sector investments in energy efficiency have steadily risen over the past five years to $7.2 billion in 2013. They are generating returns of $3 to $4 for every dollar invested. A comparable expenditure for renewable energy investments is harder to find because the data isn’t reported, but recent research by Ceres shows that renewable energy sales averaged about 5 percent of total sales for the country’s 32 largest power providers.”

In The Guardian, she said “green bonds might sound dull but they’re a vital weapon against climate change:”

“It’s now clearer than ever that green bonds, which provide capital for clean energy projects with a promised return on investment, make good business sense. Investors are buying up green bonds at a blistering pace. More than $20bn in green bonds have been issued in 2014 and the Climate Bond Initiative, an investor-focused nonprofit group, expects the market will hit $40bn by year’s end. That’s a 20-fold jump from the $2bn of green bonds issued in 2012. It’s a green win all around.”






Mark Plotkin Featured in Times-Picayune

September 12, 2014 by

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans just profiled Mark Plotkin of Amazon Conservation Team. The piece talks about how “growing up, Plotkin never imagined he would one day become an ethnobotanist, studying the ways Indians used the plants that grew around them. ‘How could I?’ I never knew there was such a thing,’ he said.”

It talks about the defining moment that changed all that, and later led to the founding of the Amazon Conservation Team and all his success. It ends with Mark’s humor.

An excerpt:

“In 1996, he and his wife, Liliana Madrigal, cofounded the nonprofit Amazon Conservation Team to protect biological and cultural diversity in the tropical rain forest, and started the program Shamans and Apprentices, which helps medicine men share their priceless knowledge with young members of their tribes. Nearly two decades later, the program is flourishing.

‘It’s not just working, it’s thriving,’ he said. ‘I’m immensely proud of that.’ Plotkin has led a remarkable life. He has degrees from Harvard and Yale, and a doctorate in biological conservation from Tufts University. In 1998, he starred in the IMAX film ‘Amazon.’ He has won numerous awards, and in 2005, for Smithsonian magazine’s 35th anniversary issue, he was picked as one of ’35 Who Made a Difference,’ along with such luminaries as Bill Gates and Wynton Marsalis…

In recent years, the Amazon Conservation Team has put together a partnership between Google Earth and 33 tribes, mapping their land — 70 million acres of tropical rain forest — in an effort to establish their ownership rights and protect the land from loggers.”

Read the rest:



New IPS Amazonia Website Maps Social Progress in the Brazilian Amazon

August 26, 2014 by

We recently shared that conservation of the Brazilian Amazon is threatened by the poor social conditions of its people. That’s the summary of the Social Progress Index for the Brazilian Amazon, published by the Brazilian nonprofit Imazon in partnership with the global nonprofit Social Progress Imperative.

The report measured the social progress of the people living within 772 municipalities and nine states of the Brazilian Amazon. It found that people living there face huge challenges in almost every measure of social progress.

The Social Progress Index built for the Brazilian Amazon combined globally relevant indicators, such as maternal mortality rates, access to piped water, and secondary school enrolment, with customized indicators adapted to the local context, such as deforestation rates, malaria incidence, child and teenage pregnancies, and violence against indigenous people.

This news has been covered by dozens of publications, from Thomson Reuters to the Global Post to Globo. 

Now, the new IPS Amazonia data web site is online, complete with interactive maps and scorecards for each of 772 municipalities across 43 indicators. It shows very clearly that economic development and social progress are not the same.

Learn more at


Video: Tony Meloto Talks About Nation-Building after Typhoon Haiyan

August 14, 2014 by

November’s massive typhoon in the Philippines left behind much destruction. Gawad Kalinga was there immediately. Now, chairman and founder Tony Meloto shares their success in an interview with Gawad Kalinga mobilized 1.6 volunteers who helped build 1,200 homes, repaired 339 roofs, and gave 613 boats to fishermen by July 2014. By December, GK’s goal is to rebuild 6,000 homes, repair 1,500 roofs and donate 1,500 boats.

“It’s the greatness of the human spirit that we need to unleash,” Tony said in the interview. “And there’s so much of that. So when we see this great devastation, we also see great opportunities for us to be transcendent above our own needs and just rise together.”

Listen to the rest above.



Jockin Arputham Profiled in one of India’s Largest Business Newspapers

August 11, 2014 by

Mint, a business paper from the Hindustan Times in association with The Wall Street Journal, just published a long profile of Jockin Arputham. The piece covered everything from Jockin’s early life to his unique ways of getting local governments to listen. And of course, it mentioned his Nobel Peace Prize nomination. An excerpt:

“Most of the time, Arputham, or “Jockin sir”, as the slum dwellers of Mumbai call him, is every bit a Dharavi man—astute, resourceful and intrepid. Since the 1970s, he has been the voice of Mumbai’s urban poor that successive governments have not been able to ignore. He has made the slum dweller’s life visible in this overpowering, forgetful city. He has guerrilla tactics for “no eviction without alternative” drives—holding on to a stay order till eviction is about to start, causing the police inconvenience; sending unwashed women in a large group to police stations so the officers on duty listen to them quickly and let them go; camouflaging his small frame behind dupattas and saris of women to avoid police arrest; and gathering thousands together to paralyse streets. On paper, Arputham has been arrested more than 50 times…But that alone ought not to have got Arputham the Padma Shri and Ramon Magsaysay awards—both gleaming on a shelf at his Dharavi office—and the Nobel Peace Prize nomination. It has been reported that the Swedish minister for public administration and housing presented his nomination and, so far, he has the support of ministers from Norway, South Africa and Brazil.” 

Read more at:–Light-from-the-matchbox.html?utm_source=copy


How Three Villages in Tanzania Became Solar Electrified

June 16, 2014 by

Six illiterate women recently became solar engineers through Barefoot College—and now, three villages in Tanzania are solar electrified. Their story is in the Inter Press Service. An excerpt:

“Just over a year ago, homes in the village of Chekeleni were dark after sunset. Today they are filled with light from solar lamps as women bustle around cooking and children do their homework near the glowing lamps. At least 200 households now have their own solar installations for lighting and other electrical needs.

Six women have brought this light to three remote southern Tanzanian villages in the Mtwara and Lindi districts. They are among the 25 illiterate, rural mothers, many of them also grandmothers, from four African countries who were trained at the Barefoot College in Tilonia in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan, to install and maintain solar energy panels.

The programme was part of the 2011 ‘Rural Women Light up Africa’ initiative, a partnership between UN Women and the Barefoot College.”

Read the rest:


Skoll Foundation Applauds Stanford’s Decision to Divest from Coal Companies

May 7, 2014 by

Stanford University just announced it will not make direct investments in coal mining companies (it now has an $18.7 billion endowment of stock in these companies), and The Skoll Foundation applauds this decision. The New York Times noted that this makes Stanford the first major university to support the nationwide campaign to “purge endowments and pension funds of fossil fuel investments.”

Here’s more from the Stanford Report:

“Acting on a recommendation of Stanford’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing, the Board of Trustees announced that Stanford will not make direct investments in coal mining companies. The move reflects the availability of alternate energy sources with lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal. The Stanford University Board of Trustees has decided to not make direct investments of endowment funds in coal-mining companies. Stanford University will not make direct investments of endowment funds in publicly traded companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy generation, the Stanford Board of Trustees decided today.”

Read the rest:


Ceres Responds to Somber New Report on Climate Change

May 6, 2014 by

Today, a new report showed that “the effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects,” according to the New York Times.

Skoll Awardee Ceres released this statement:

“Today’s report is a stark reminder of the urgency for expanding our efforts to curb the carbon pollution that is impacting every stretch of the United States, from extreme precipitation and flooding in the northeast, to drought, water scarcity and wildfires in the southwest. We simply can no longer afford to risk our children’s futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong. read more


Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson on Climate Change: Who Will Lead?

April 22, 2014 by

The Elders have published a blog by Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson, Climate change: who will lead?, urging youth to mobilize ahead of the Paris climate conference in December 2015. An excerpt:

“With the latest warnings delivered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) over the past few weeks, no world leader will ever be able to claim that they were caught off-guard by climate change.

As former heads of state ourselves, we’ve experienced global crises from within the corridors of power. Some may take the world by surprise, but sometimes the warning signals are such that there is no excuse not to act. The IPCC report is such a signal.

The report of Working Group II of the IPCC is the most sobering assessment, to date, of the risks posed to humanity by climate change, describing a range of threats in a clear yet measured tone. Around the world, people’s crops and homes are in danger already. This will only get worse if nothing is done. Economic shocks and worsening poverty, exacerbated by a warming planet, will also increase the risk of armed conflict. It is the world’s poorest who are the most vulnerable. The report does not dictate exact scenarios but tells us, with unprecedented authority, what we must be ready for.

For this reason, it is a compelling call to action for governments. We hope it can trigger decisive action – notably on greenhouse gas emission reduction and financing for climate adaptation – on the road to December 2015, when world leaders will meet at a major conference in Paris to agree a new climate deal.

This week we are coming to Paris, as Elders, to help build momentum towards this deadline. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this process. Climate change ignores national borders. Multilateral negotiations remain the best approach for the world to reach a comprehensive solution. We are calling for a robust, fair, universal, and legally-binding agreement in Paris in 2015.”

Read the rest:


Simon Taylor, Charmian Gooch, and Patrick Alley

March 4, 2014 by

“Driving Transparency to Lift the ‘Resource Curse’ of Conflict and Human Rights Abuse”

Patrick Alley, Charmian Gooch, and Simon Taylor know that many of the world’s poorest people live in the most resource-rich countries in the world. Natural resources can incentivize corruption, destabilize governments, and lead to conflict and the looting of entire states. From 2002 to 2011, illicit money flows from corrupt deals in the developing world totaled nearly $6 trillion. Global Witness investigates and exposes the shadow networks underlying these deals that fuel conflict, corruption, and environmental destruction. They collect evidence and launch hard-hitting campaigns to find global solutions and end the “resource curse” by tackling corruption, protecting the environment, preventing conflict, and defending human rights.

Patrick Alley is co-founder and director of Global Witness. He took part in Global Witness’s first investigations into the Thai-Khmer Rouge timber trade in 1995, and since then has taken part in more than 50 field investigations in South East Asia, Africa and Europe, and in subsequent advocacy activities. Because of Global Witness’s experience in tackling conflict diamonds and former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s arms for timber trade, Patrick focuses on the issue of conflict resources, and on forest and land issues—especially challenging industrial scale-logging and land-grabbing in the tropics.

Charmian Gooch is co-founder and director of Global Witness. She jointly led Global Witness’ first campaign, exposing the trade in timber between the Khmer Rouge and Thai logging companies, and their political and military backers. Charmian also developed and launched Global Witness’ second groundbreaking campaign, combating blood diamonds. Global Witness was nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on conflict diamonds, and in 2005 Charmian received the Gleitsman International Activist Award.

Simon Taylor is co-founder and director of Global Witness. Simon launched Global Witness’s oil and corruption campaign more than 15 years ago, which began the global call for transparency of payments made by companies to governments for oil and gas extraction. Exposing corruption in these sectors led to Global Witness’s conception of the Publish What You Pay Campaign (PWYP), which Simon co-launched in 2002 with George Soros and other NGOs including Transparency International (UK) and Save the Children Fund UK. The launch of PWYP, which now consists of more than 750 civil society organizations worldwide, led directly to the creation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), now a global multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at delivering revenue transparency in the extractive sector.




Jockin Arputham

March 4, 2014 by

“Leading Slum Dwellers around the World to Improve Their Cities”

In 2008—for the first time in history—more people were living in urban than in rural areas. Today, more than one billion people live in slums. Founded by a collective of slum dwellers and concerned professionals headed by Jockin Arputham, a community organizer in India, Slum Dwellers International works to have slums recognized as vibrant, resourceful, and dignified communities. SDI organizes slum dwellers to take control of their futures; improve their living conditions; and gain recognition as equal partners with governments and international organizations in the creation of inclusive cities. With programs in nearly 500 cities, including more than 15,000 slum dweller-managed savings groups reaching one million people; 20 agreements with national governments; and nearly 130,000 families who have secured land rights, SDI has been a driving force for change for slum dwellers around the world.

Jockin Arputham is the president of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of India, which he founded in the 1970s. Often referred to as the “grandfather” of the global slum dwellers movement, Jockin was educated by the slums, living on the streets for much of his childhood with no formal education. For more than 30 years, Jockin has worked in slums and shanty towns throughout India and around the world. After working as a carpenter in Mumbai, he became involved in organizing the community where he lived and worked. He helped found Slum Dwellers International to help federations of slum and shack dwellers in more than 20 countries support and learn from each other. Federations share information on how to organize; how to engage in participatory planning; how to ensure women’s involvement in community participation, savings and credit; and how to access water and sanitation.




New online tool tracks deforestation

February 20, 2014 by

The World Resources Institute (WRI) and a group of more than 40 partners, including Imazon, have launched Global Forest Watch (GFW), an online forest monitoring and alert system that helps people everywhere to better manage forests. Global Forest Watch combines satellite technology, open data, and crowdsourcing to provide access to timely information about forests.

An excerpt from the WRI announcement explains,

“Global Forest Watch will have far-reaching implications across industries. Financial institutions can better evaluate if the companies they invest in adequately assess forest-related risks. Buyers of major commodities such as palm oil, soy, timber, and beef can better monitor compliance with laws, sustainability commitments, and standards. And suppliers can credibly demonstrate that their products are ‘deforestation free’ and legally produced.”

Read more and explore the new tool.


New progress on sustainable business in the Amazon

January 14, 2014 by

A project—partially supported by the Skoll Foundation—that seeks to increase sustainable business in the Amazon region is seeing early evidence of success. In a new blog post, the Conservation Strategy Fund shares more about this milestone and the innovative project model. From the post:

“Conservation Strategy Fund has been working with traditional communities in Brazil to support low-impact activities in the Amazon region. These activities have subsequently grown into sustainable businesses, from both an environmental and economic perspective. The guidance CSF has given these locally-owned businesses has helped them to grow substantially and aims to eventually contribute to decreased deforestation in Brazil.”

Read the entire post.


Typhoon Rebuilding Begins: Gawad Kalinga in the Manila Standard

December 26, 2013 by

A new article in the Manila Standard talks to Gawad Kalinga and other organizations helping in the Philippines relief efforts. An excerpt:

“’Yolanda caught us off-guard,’ says Gawad Kalinga founder Tony Meloto. ‘But the scale of the problem is nothing compared to the overflow of generosity and heroism, as friends and partners from around the world rally together in bayanihan to help the Filipinos rise again.’

While relief efforts address the immediate need for food and clothes, non-profit organizations like Gawad Kalinga in partnership with TIP have drawn plans to tackle the longer-term need for shelter.

The rebuilding and relief operations are part of Operation Walang Iwanan, GK’s aid effort for Yolanda survivors. Through the program, GK and its partners aim to build an initial 5,000 houses, as well as repair around 1,000 damaged houses.'”

Read the rest:


Tony Meloto and Luis Oquiñena

November 28, 2011 by

“I value the freedom to serve more than the power to rule.”—Tony

“When we started, we dreamt that every Filipino family would have its own land and its own house. Now thousands are beginning to aspire that we can become a great nation and a great people.”—Jose Luis

70 percent of the Filipino population is classified as landless, and 26 million people have only makeshift dwellings in informal urban settlements. Top-down government interventions, such as land redistribution, have failed to significantly improve living conditions.

The Skoll Awardees: Starting from humble beginnings, Tony Meloto was an outstanding scholar who gained financial and professional success. Still, he was driven to understand how poverty had been institutionalized in his country, and began working with young gang members in one of Manila’s most dangerous slums. Through this work he came to know a fellow volunteer, Jose Luis Oquiñena, and together they crafted the vision of Gawad Kalinga, an organization whose name means “to give care” and whose development approach engages all sectors of society to end poverty, starting with housing, then adding education and livelihoods. The model emphasizes values shared by individuals and communities, and views poverty as not merely the absence of money, but the lack of community and sense of higher purpose. “Slum environments breed slum behavior” is a motto, emphasizing the importance of both physical and spiritual transformation. GK coordinates as corporate partners donate materials and employee time; local governments invest in infrastructure; owners get tax credits for donating lands; and volunteers provide sweat equity. At the time of the Award, 2,000 GK villages with 60,000 families had engaged in the transformative process. Tony ranked as the fourth most trusted person in the Philippines.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2011:

  • Expansion to Cambodia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea.
  • Inspired the Philippines’ 2012 Kalinga Bills, also called “Volunteers for Nation Building” to institutionalize public, private, and civil sector partnerships as part of the government poverty eradication plan.
  • Coordinated relief and rebuilding efforts after Typhoons Sendong (2012) and Hayan/Yolanda (2013), building 3,000 houses and mobilizing 1.7 million volunteers.



Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto and Silverius Oscar Unggul

March 12, 2010 by

Ambrosius Ruwindrijarto (Ruwi) and Silverius Oscar Unggul (Onte) have led efforts to shift Indonesia from illegal logging to community-based logging. Ruwi co-founded Telapak in 1997, pioneering reporting on illegal logging in Indonesia’s national parks to raise awareness of the issue, both internationally and domestically. In 2006, Ruwi, together with Onte, a community organization expert, transitioned Telepak’s focus from raising awareness about the problem to rolling out solutions via community-based sustainable resource management. The first organization in Southeast Asia to help achieve group forestry certification for logging cooperatives, Telapak is scaling its model nationally, with goals of helping local communities to eventually manage millions of hectares of forest across Indonesia.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2010:

  • In July 2012, Ruwi won the Ramon Magsaysay Award, considered Asia’s Nobel Prize.
  • Telapak has established 6 territorial offices actively engaging with 8 communities to create sustainable logging cooperatives that have the potential to collectively certify more than 200,000 hectares of forest land.
  • With the help of a UK-based environmental group, Ruwi exposed illegal logging and smuggling, sparking public outrage which pressurized Indonesia to tighten regulations on the timber trade. He was threatened with death, assaulted and once kidnapped by a timber company in central Kalimantan but never gave up.
  • Telapak worked with a community partner NGO to facilitate the first-ever Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) group certification in Southeast Asia, which has been renewed every year since.
  • Before Telapak started working in a Sulawesi district, there were 75 illegal sawmills. Now there are none.
  • Telapak manages forests sustainably, under globally-recognized certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). For 10 trees being cut down, they plant and care for a hectare of them—roughly 1,000 trees.
  • Where their community logging co-ops operate, illegal logging has been reduced drastically, tree coverage increased significantly, and the welfare of the local community improved greatly.
  • Their community logging co-op model is being replicated across Indonesia by more than 50 communities under Telapak’s network. Two of them have gained FSC certification, and more are in the process.



Adalberto Veríssimo and Carlos Souza Jr.

March 12, 2010 by

“We are very optimistic that is possible to reduce deforestation in the Amazon and develop this region for the people living there. But we know that this is just the beginning. We are inspired to go on build a global monitoring system covering 1 billion hectares of tropical forest that has tremendous worth for carbon, environment services, and cultural values.”

Sub-Issue: Arresting Deforestation Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is driven primarily by cattle and soy producers clearing new fields and pastures. Although Brazil’s Forest Code requires 80 percent of private lands in the Amazon to remain forested, most landowners operate with seeming impunity, knowing that the state is not equipped to monitor what happens on their lands, and rarely collects fines for illegal deforestation.

The Skoll Awardees: Adalberto (Beto) Veríssimo and Carlos Souza, Jr., are recognized leaders in tropical forest conservation, having developed, through the Amazon Institute of People and the Environment (Imazon), a deforestation monitoring system that makes it possible to know, in almost real time, where deforestation occurs. Beto co-founded Imazon in 1990, determined to find a role as an honest broker and provider of information at a time when those who wanted to save the forest and those determined to exploit it were almost literally at war. Carlos joined the team two years later, pioneering a key innovation: using state-of-the-art remote sensing and mapping to detect deforestation. This enables agencies to identify and prosecute illegal clearing, and creates strong incentives for the ranchers and producers to find alternatives – such as diversified wood products with less waste. Imazon also publishes cutting-edge scientific reports in accessible formats and works with national and international media outlets to keep information on deforestation up to date and bring public pressure on decision-makers At the time of the Award, the Brazilian government had achieved 80 percent reduction in deforestation over five years. Rigorous new limits to deforestation were enacted, and the government had committed to stop illegal logging, focusing on hotspot regions identified by Imazon.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2010:

  • Worked with Google to develop Google Earth technology’s capacity to track deforestation; Global Forest Watch platform launched in 2014 with World Resources Institute makes it possible to monitor tree cutting worldwide.
  • Projects in development include tools to track fishing vessels and monitor sea level change.
  • In Brazil, partnership with public prosecutors facilitates enforcement of conservation laws in 75 million hectares of conservation and indigenous lands.



Michael Jenkins

March 12, 2010 by

As a forester in Haiti and Brazil, Michael Jenkins saw the effects of extreme degradation of natural ecosystems on poor people and understood that traditional philanthropy alone was insufficient to solve the problem. At the MacArthur Foundation, he reoriented the sustainable forestry program to take a whole-systems approach that outlined the forest “value chain” and identified strategies to build financial and community sustainability within the system. He founded Forest Trends in 1998 to highlight the market value of natural ecosystems to promote their conservation. Forest Trends is widely credited for advancing the concept and practical application of “payments for ecosystem services,” an innovation that is gaining widespread momentum as a powerful conservation tool for forests and ecosystems.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2010:

  • In Jan. 2015, Forest Trends’ report, Tracking REDD+ Finance-2009-2012 – Finance Flows in Seven REDD+ Countries, was the first-ever REDDX report for 2009-2012 and tracked US$1.2 billion in REDD+ commitments and US$378 million in disbursements in seven tropical forest countries: Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Ghana, Liberia, Tanzania, and Vietnam.
  • In Sept. 2014, A comprehensive new analysis released by Forest Trends said that nearly half (49%) of all recent tropical deforestation is the result of illegal clearing for commercial agriculture.
  • On 2012, the Surui was the first indigenous tribe globally to earn carbon credits under internationally recognized standards for capturing carbon in trees, part of the Skoll-supported Amazon Corridors initiative. This resulted from years of terrific work by many, including ACT and Forest Trends.
  • Widely credited for “catalytic impact” in advancing the concept, understanding and practical application of PES, particularly in convening key stakeholders with ability to move this approach to conservation forward.
  • USDA created new Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets as a direct result of Forest Trends providing training for its senior management team for 5 years. It’s the first time a new USDA office has been created in 30 years.
  • Has built the premier global information service on ecosystem service markets — Ecosystem Marketplace.
  • Has convened 15 Katoomba Group events internationally with thousands of participants, leading to development of informal communities of experts that have further advanced PES issues, including establishment of a $50 million ecosystem service program in Mexico and advancement of PES legislation in Colombia, Malawi, Peru and Uganda.



Martin von Hildebrand

August 12, 2009 by

Martín lived with Amazonian indigenous communities during much of the 1970s, understanding their worldview and their challenges. He completed a doctorate in ethnology in Paris, returned to work within the Colombian government on promoting indigenous territorial and cultural rights and in 1986 was appointed Head of Indian Affairs. He used his government position to support Constitutional reforms, the ratification of international agreements on indigenous rights and the actual placing of large areas of Amazon rainforest legally into the hands of the indigenous people. In 1990, Martín founded Gaia Amazonas, to work more effectively at the grassroots level and enable the Amazon’s indigenous peoples to take advantage of their newfound rights.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2009:

  • At a time when rights need to be respected, forests conserved and emissions curtailed, Martín has shifted thinking, policy and practice toward indigenous peoples and local communities owning and governing their forests.
  • Working with partners, Gaia Amazonas’ aims over 10 years for indigenous communities to protect 100 million hectares of continuous tropical rainforest in accordance with their cultural traditions/knowledge and shared government and international responsibility. In Colombia, some 35 million hectares of Amazon forest are now protected by indigenous territories or national parks.
  • In areas where Gaia Amazonas is most active, 17 indigenous organizations, representing 23,600 people from different ethnic groups, negotiate with government and govern more than 13 million hectares of forest. Their children attend local schools, receive an inter-cultural education, and their health plans, based on traditional medicine, reduce the costs of healthcare.



Munqeth Mehyar, Nader al Khateeb and Gidon Bromberg

August 12, 2009 by

Gidon received a masters’ in international environmental law at American University in 1993, focusing on the environmental implications of peace. He feared unsustainable regional development plans were being vetted as part of the then-nascent Oslo peace efforts. Gidon brought together Egyptian, Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian environmentalists to create EcoPeace Middle East. Munqeth co-founded the organization and now serves as chair and Jordanian director. Nader joined as Palestinian director in 2001 at a critical time for keeping the tripartite nature of the organization alive.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2009:

  • After working towards this goal for two years, the Israeli High Court denied the request of the Israeli Military to approve the Battir separation barrier.
  • The West Bank village of Battir was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in part thanks to EcoPeace Middle East’s work.
  • EcoPeace Middle East is a key voice in the ongoing debate about whether it is possible to use the Red Sea to replenish the shrinking Dead Sea. They commented extensively in the press on the new water agreement signed on Dec. 9, 2013.  EcoPeace Middle East’s take: “Although the politicians are tagging this as the ‘Red Dead Canal’ project, it is far from it. Gidon Bromberg, Israeli Director of EcoPeace Middle East, explains in this op-ed The Red-Dead pipe dream.”
  • EcoPeace Middle East has involved over 10,000 Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli neighboring residents in neighbors path tours to learn about their crossborder water issues, highlighting the interdependent nature of the water resource and the need for cooperation to advance sustainable solutions.
  • To rehabilitate the Jordan River and stabilize the Dead Sea, they are: Creating the region’s first master plan for the entire lower Jordan River valley and bringing thousands of the region’s youths together to learn; Promoting a joint Basin Commission to manage the Jordan for everyone’s benefit; Publishing the only science on what the Jordan River needs to be sustainable (see it here) and to stabilize the Dead Sea and Creating the trans-boundary Jordan River Peace Park, a key project to return fresh water to the Jordan and demonstrate the value of ecotourism.



© 2015 Skoll Foundation.