In the countries in which Well Grounded works, natural resources are key 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.
However, there are people on the ground who are doing something about it: working with communities to support them as they assert their rights to manage their land and resources and helping them with the practical challenges of doing just that. There are many actors, each playing an important role, but Well Grounded focuses on civil society organisations – non-government groups of people who have come together to take action. We choose to work with civil society because we consider that it has an important role to play in proposing positive solutions to the challenges being faced and in being a counterweight to the very powerful voices of government and the private sector.
Yet civil society organisations face their own challenges that limit how effective they can be: working in a context with limited access to information, training and resources and very limited political space, they struggle to find and retain enough people with the skills and experience they need and they often face real difficulties in organising. This is why Well Grounded was set up: we hope that we can support civil society organisations to be able to realise their objectives and vision and to make a positive change to community rights and natural resource management in their home countries and in the wider world.
NB. Well Grounded views ‘civil society organisations’ as any groupings, formal or informal, that have purpose, people and process. They can include, among others, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, networks, platforms, coalitions and social movements.