Indigenous students awarded certification, part of SSRP project strengthening rights-based sustainable development
By: Amy Sweet
Last updated: Wednesday, 9 June 2021
The global COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating violence against indigenous peoples in Latin America who continue to defend their environmentally important land from exploitation. The ‘Indigenous Visions’ project is creating a network of indigenous students to co-produce evidence for human rights and environmental protection.
Ten indigenous students from Peru’s Amazon region have been awarded official certification from the National Council of Science, Technology and Technological Innovation (CONCYTEC) on responsible conduct in research.
The ‘Indigenous Visions for Rights-Based Approached to Sustainability’ project is funded by the University of Sussex’s International Development Challenge Fund (IDCF) and the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP). In partnership with the National Intercultural University of the Amazon (UNIA) in Peru and three University’s in the Brazilian state of Bahia (UFRB, UFBA, UNEB), this project trains indigenous students and is creating a network of researchers to map human rights violations of indigenous peoples and communities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and development activities – such as logging and mining – in their Amazon rainforest territories.
Dr Evan Killick, Senior Lecturer in Anthropology and International Development, and Dr Mary Menton, Research Fellow in Environmental Justice, worked in partnership with Dr Aoife Bennett, Milagros Toala and Rodrigo Lazo Landivar from UNIA to train indigenous students in research skills, such as ethics and scientific integrity. The students were shortlisted in March 2021 and were the first students to receive this certification at UNIA. This certification will now enable these students to access their own research funding.
The blended in-person and virtual award ceremony was held in May 2021 in compliance with COVID-19 safety measures. The students who received certification are: Flores Cauper Wendy Sharaly, Gordon Morey Nilo, Kasen Sahwit Yampik Fabian, Lopez Rengifo Beker Horiel, Mozombite Mucushua Betsy Claribel, Muñoz Sanchez Weny Timoteo, Pacaya Inuma Enerson Ezequiel, Rojas Vasquez Anderson, Sanchium Tawam Rany, and Ti Chumpi Antero Manuel. In addition to the SSRP project team members and the senior leaders at UNIA, the Ashéninka Indigenous Leader, Diana Ríos Rengifo, participated in the ceremony.
Dr Evan Killick says, “The devastating impacts of COVID-19 and the manner in which it has reduced governments’ ability to protect their own peoples and environments have emphasised yet again the importance of strengthening and supporting Indigenous Peoples’ rights as well as their capacities to defend themselves and their lands through research, documentation and publicity."
Dr Mary Menton says, “The UNIA students have shown a remarkable resilience in working through the pandemic and achieving the CONCYTEC certifications, we are looking forward to the next stage of the project and seeing what insights their individual projects produce."
The next phase of the ‘Indigenous Visions’ project will secure research fellowships for the Peruvian students to conduct their own research projects on issues impacting their communities. They will work with the indigenous students in Brazil who worked with Mary on her previous IDCF-funded project, 'Mapping Indigenous Rights Violations in Northeastern Brazil', as well as a British Academy-funded project ‘Sustainable’ development and atmospheres of violence: experiences of environmental defenders'. Overall, ‘Indigenous Visions’ will contribute to the strengthening of indigenous rights and has the potential to scale up even further.
Find out more about this SSRP research project ‘Indigenous Visions for Rights Based Approaches to Sustainability’.
See the UNIA news article (in Spanish): ‘UNIA and Sussex together for indigenous research between Peru, Brazil and the United Kingdom’.