Act and Communicate

Examples of community actions and initiatives to support territories of life

There are many internal actions a community can take to strengthen and advocate for specific aspects of its territory of life, based on self-assessment of its strengths, weaknesses, and priority needs.

Community protocols

One powerful approach for articulating and advocating for rights in relationship to a territory of life is to develop a Community Protocol, which, as described by the organization Natural Justice, “articulate community-determined values, procedures, and priorities. They set out rights and responsibilities under customary, state, and international law as the basis for engaging with external actors such as governments, companies, academics, and NGOs. They can be used as catalysts for constructive and proactive responses to threats and opportunities posed by land and resource development, conservation, research, and other legal and policy frameworks…. it is generally a community-led instrument that promotes participatory advocacy for the recognition of and support for ways of life that are based on the customary sustainable use of biodiversity, according to standards and procedures set out in customary, national, and international laws and policies. In this sense, biocultural community protocols are community-specific declarations of the right to diversity. Their value and integrity lie in the process that communities undertake to develop them, in what they represent to the community, and in their future uses and impacts.”

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Here you can find a Community Protocol Toolbox (further descripted below, under publications).

Here you can read examples from specific community protocols.

Other approaches and ideas include the following (suggested by ICCA Consortium Members and Honorary members from various regions, January 2015[1]):

  • Initiatives to self-assess and enhance ICCA governance processes and capacities—including leadership development experiences and training on managerial, technical and financial skills for the members of the ICCA governing institutions—in particular for indigenous peoples, women and youth
  • Initiatives to self-assess and enhance ICCA management processes and capacities—including specific training and means to carry out surveillance and enforcement of rules, prevention and mitigation of human-­‐wildlife conflicts, habitat restoration where necessary, disaster prevention activities, monitoring and analyses of management results
  • Active exchanges and collaboration among ICCA custodian communities and partners—including knowledge exchanges and joint learning, dialogues, symposia, study groups and open discussions of CBD reports
  • Legal advice and support to respond to ICCA-specific issues and cases, including via ICCA Alerts and capacity building for enhanced legal literacy and para-legal training among custodian communities, to halt undesired and damaging initiatives and to prevent violence against the opponents of such initiatives, and to promote dispute resolution and redress, including in cases of overlaps between ICCAs and protected areas
  • Initiatives to promote the establishment and functioning of ICCA networks, including by ICCA inventories in a given region, meetings among representatives of custodian communities, formal registration of organisations (as needed)
  • Support to communication campaigns, including via provision of specific equipment or purchased radio time, advocacy campaigns, and campaigns to respond to threats
  • Initiatives to strengthen the links between ICCAs, food sovereignty, well-being and local wealth generation (e.g., communication campaigns to uplift and de-criminalise practices such as seed exchange and shifting agriculture, which support local economies and livelihoods)
  • Initiatives to reduce the risk of natural disasters and adapt to climate change, e.g., by combining local and non-local knowledge and skills to improve the management of the ICCA
  • Initiatives to strengthen community pride in ICCAs, keeping alive the cultural, non-economic values that sustain ICCAs and resisting simplified narratives of ‘development’ (e.g., recording and highlighting traditional knowledge, skills, practices and art forms, setting up competitions and awards about them and their innovative uses, encouraging continuation and respectful innovation in celebrations, story-telling, cultural events, ceremonies, pilgrimages, rituals related to ICCAs, photo-stories and video-stories, etc.)
  • Bi-cultural educational curricula and classes in ICCA custodian communities, with flexible schedules to make sure that the cultural values that sustain the ICCAs are maintained among the youth
  • Community funds and specific support to collective investments and sustainable productive activities in the natural commons, making sure those financial flows are transparent, assessable and aligned with local priorities


Resources and tools for planning actions together

Methods and Approaches:

(Prioritize any customary or locally familiar methods)

Other methods to consider include:

  • Theory of change analysis (see Mayer et al. 2013:37)
  • Capacity assessment to identify what capacities and resources for action the community already holds and where there are key gaps the community wishes to address, either internally or through strategic partnerships

  • Proposal writing workshops/ exchanges, which may be done in partnerships with other communities and/or supported by facilitators if the community wishes 

  • Legal Literacy Camp – As described in the Power Tools webpage, “Panchayat Shivir is a Hindi term for a Legal Literacy Camp. Law trainers may use it to aid tribal self-rule in India or other forms of decentralisation. Mass Tribal Organisations or Community Based Organisations may also use this approach in taking law to the people. Trainers may also use it in other countries that are progressing towards decentralised governance or in areas of special administration.” You can download a document with details about this tool here.

  • Negotiation / mediation processes, if needed to help understand and address disagreements or conflicts that arise in relationship to governing or managing a territory of life. There are many methods and resources on negotiation and mediation, and many communities have their own internal processes.  Beyond Fences Vol. 2 describes a 13-step negotiation and mediation process in a fair amount of detail, including the purpose, conditions under which it may be useful, and key steps and considerations. (Read more at Borrini-Feyerabend with Buchan 1997:153-156)


  • The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) webpage includes information about what kinds of initiatives may be eligible, and how to apply.
  • The Project Proposal Toolkit provides a free “toolkit to simplify the process of creating a project proposal… [with] templates, samples and guides all on one page… in an easily digestible format”.


The Community Protocol Toolbox “serve[s] as a first stop for facilitators who are interested in helping a community to develop a community protocol. It is designed to provide facilitators with a broad overview of the elements they should consider before engaging in a protocol process. It also contains practical guidance on methods for developing community protocols. Overall, the Toolbox is for NGOs, civil society groups, community-based organizations, and others interested in supporting local communities who are facing challenges from the extraction of natural resources, although its application is not limited to those situations. Inside you will find background information on: (1) the Toolbox, (2) community protocols; and (3) the project that inspired this Toolbox. In addition, the Toolbox consists of five Booklets and a Leaflet. Booklet 1 sets forth the elements of community protocols and questions that facilitators should ask in order to understand what developing a protocol will involve in a particular context. Booklets 2 to 5 expand on the elements raised for consideration and provide practical guidance on how to engage in a protocol process. The Leaflet (6) lists online resources providing further information on issues relevant to extractive industries.”

Other publications that may be of interest include:

See also relevant resources and tools above (e.g., small and large group discussions, participatory GIS/ mapping, brainstorming and prioritization exercises, situation analysis, problem tree analysis, etc.)

Resources and tools for communicating about the ICCA


(Prioritize any customary or locally familiar methods)

  • Community theatre, song, dance to celebrate and communicate about the territory of life – Beyond Fences Vol. 2 describes the purpose, key steps, and strengths and drawbacks of street or village theatre, noting that they “use[] local storytellers, theatre groups, clowns, dancers and puppets to inform people about an issue by telling a story. The presentations use imagery, music, and humour to raise people’s awareness of an issue that is affecting them. Local people can be en- couraged to join in and play a part in the presentations. The presentations can be filmed or recorded for radio and thus made available to a wider audience. [Theatre can] raise awareness of issues by presenting information and possible solutions in an entertaining way, closely associated with the local culture.” (Read more at Borrini-Feyerabend with Buchan 1997:128)

  • Radio, social media and text messaging services to communicate information and receive feedback – For example, Beyond Fences Vol. 2 describes the purpose, key steps, and strengths and drawbacks of radio programmes, noting that: “[r]adio programmes can be a useful tool to inform people in a large area. They can be produced at the local, regional or national level. They are most effective when they are made with audience participation in the local language and take cultural traditions into account. Radio production teams should be multi-disciplinary and mobile so that they can converse with a range of people and record a variety of material in various locations…Specific programmes can vary from formal documentaries to discussion forums with a range of local actors, from plays and storytelling …to talk shows where people can phone in and express their views on the air… Radio programmes can be used to spread information, to stimulate discussion and debate among the people concerned about the conservation initiative, or to provide a forum where rural communities can communicate their views to others in the region. They can also help to educate and inform decision-makers and regulators, both within and outside of the area, about how the local people view the environmental issues confronting them. Issues raised can be addressed immediately, or subsequent broadcasts can have technical staff and decision-makers answer questions raised by local people.” (Read more at Borrini-Feyerabend with Buchan 1997:129)

Websites and online resources:



[1] Adapted from ICCA Consortium Presentation “Is this a good “ICCA initiative?” (January 2015) that summarised suggestions from ICCA Consortium members and partners from around the world.