The idea behind Well Grounded came from the experience of the two founder members. Cath Long and Iola Leal had both been working for a long time with civil society organisations in tropical countries that focussed on community rights and the sustainable management of natural resources. And although they both met many inspirational and dynamic individuals and groups who were doing extraordinary things, they realised that these same people and groups kept running up against barriers that stopped them from scaling up what they were doing and having the impact they hoped for.
This is in a context where natural resources are central to the lives and livelihoods of the poorest and most marginalised people. However, all too often these resources aren’t managed in a way that benefits the communities who depend on them or that ensures that they’ll be available to future generations. The situation is becoming more urgent as the international appetite for natural resources, including minerals, timber and land for crops such as palm oil, becomes ever greater. Communities and natural habitats are under pressure.
This is why, in 2010, Well Grounded was established. Well Grounded works with African civil society organisations (who can be any group, formal or informal, that brings people together for a purpose. They can include, among others, non-government organisations, community-based organisations, networks, platforms, coalitions and social movements), because they have a key role to play as a complement and a counterweight to government and the private sector. Well Grounded works with these organisations so that they are able to realise their objectives and vision and make a positive change to community rights and natural resource management in their home countries and in the wider world.