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Climate Finance and Environmental Protection: Bringing Menoken to the USA


A group of lecturers and students at the University of San Francisco

In November 2020, during the peak of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the Samdhana Institute set off on an ambitious mission to reconnect with Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) who had been left isolated by the global pandemic.

Led by the Lifescape Programme Head, A. Ruwindrijarto (Ruwi), Samdhana mobilised its Menoken activities to bridge the gaps between communities and groups fractured by the pandemic. Now in their third year, these collaborative initiatives serve as a platform for collaboration among IPLCS, based around learning exchange and solidarity.

A special Menoken event was held on 28 February 2023, in Los Angeles, California, USA. Samdhana invited various donor organisations along to show their support for Indigenous Peoples and environmental sustainability in Indonesia. The event successfully mobilised this supportive base and connected them with communities via dialogues based around funding.

Attendees at this intimate gathering comprised a mix of funders, community activists, academics and friends. It was hosted by Dominique Tan, who is the co-founder and co-executive director of Mitra BUMMA; an Indigenous-owned corporation in Papua, which Samdhana has helped to created.

Following the discussions, many participants were convinced that climate finance can offer a new way to support IPLCs, by recognising them as guardians of the environments in which they live. “Honestly, it was an eye-opening experience,” commented one of the attendees following the meeting, which proved to be a big hit with the US audience. Many became honorary members of the Menoken movement, and will subsequently be able to call themselves ‘Nokkeners.’

Another Menoken event, held at the University of San Francisco, was attended by professors and students from the university’s Immersion Program. They were introduced to Menoken themes and concepts, which focus on connecting disparate peoples through shared experience. A talking circle activity provided an initiation to the initiative and its capacity to be the catalyst for positive change in Indigenous communities.

From Cambodia to Colombia and from the Mekong to the Americas, Samdhana is working to connect IPLCs around the world. By working closely with funding organisations, donors, academics, universities and community leaders, our aim is to provide a safe place that recognises and respects the aspirations of all members, while also building workable solutions to help them realise their various aspirations.

This latest round of Menoken events in the US are indicative of our commitment to connect IPLCs around the world; to foster relationships based on trust and mutual understanding, and to build a fairer, more sustainable future for all. Our mission to bridge the gaps between Indigenous Peoples is ongoing. For more information about upcoming events and to find Menoken meetings taking place in your area, please visit the Samdhana website.


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