Categories Blog, World

Defining moments of 2020

First published on 01/12/2021, and last updated on 02/24/2021

For many of us, 2020 will be etched into our hearts, minds, and souls as one of the most difficult years of our lives.

Some moments forced us to our knees and pushed us to or even past our breaking points. Other moments turned over the fertile ground nurtured by our founders and elders and planted seeds for the next generation of the movement for territories of life.

Whether they had us crying tears of pain or tears of joy, all of these moments brought us together closer than ever before, forging deep bonds in the fires of our collective experiences.

As a prelude to our forthcoming 2020 report, we would like to share some of the defining moments of the year for the ICCA Consortium.




The COVID-19 pandemic


U Yich Lu´um Team. Photo © U Yich Lu´um

The COVID-19 pandemic was devastating for so many in 2020, exposing and exacerbating structural and systemic inequalities and injustices. It also underscored the centrality of Indigenous and community worldviews, values and practices to living in harmony with all life on Earth. Although much more is needed, our responses included supporting our Members to secure direct emergency grants, providing platforms for our Members to support each other in solidarity and share information and crowdfunding campaigns, organising trilingual peer learning exchanges, co-developing a story-based survey, joining solidarity statements and global campaigns, reallocating travel funds for local and national priorities and more.

Learn more about how Indigenous peoples from our membership have been responding to the pandemic in Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Hawai’i, Iran and Botswana.


The shocking loss of our sister Ghanimat Azhdari

Ghanimat Azhdari

Ghanimat Azhdari

Our hearts were shattered when our dear friend, Indigenous sister and Council member Ghanimat Azhdari (Qashqai) and 175 other innocent people were killed on 8 January 2020 when their passenger plane was shot down over Tehran. Heartfelt tributes poured in from around the world, though no words can fully convey the depths of sadness and injustice of this tragedy. We will continue to keep Ghanimat alive in our memories and our collective work for territories of life.





Commemorating our official 10-year anniversary

Photo © ALDEA

From 13 July to 13 August 2020, we commemorated the ICCA Consortium’s official 10-year anniversary with a series of diverse multilingual and multimedia events. We premiered a short film about our history, held a spiritual gathering to honour our elders and future generations, discussed the role of territories of life in movements for radical systems change, and celebrated Indigenous peoples and local communities through a global festival of arts and culture. Read more



Indigenous peoples and communities asserting their self-determined autonomy and defending their territories of life around the world

Margita protest camp in late November. Photo © Save Sinjajevina Association.

From Taiwan to Montenegro (pictured) and from the Amazon to the Congo Basin, Indigenous peoples and communities faced growing challenges head-on in 2020, asserted their rights and responsibilities and defended their territories of life with more determination than ever.





ICCA Consortium Members, Honorary members and allies recognised with prestigious awards

Paul Sein Twa and community members in the Salween Peace Park. Photo © Goldman Environmental Prize

In 2020, five of the 10 community organisations that received an Equator Prize were affiliated with our membership. Our Members, Honorary members and Indigenous allies were also among the recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize and Right Livelihood Award.

Both the Equator Prize and Goldman Environmental Prize recognised the efforts of around 350 Karen communities in Burma/Myanmar, who – with the support of Paul Sein Twa (ICCA Consortium Council member) and KESAN (ICCA Consortium Member) – self-declared the 1.35 million-acre Salween Peace Park on the basis of peace, self-determination, ecological integrity and cultural survival. Read more


Strengthening our organisational systems and capacities to serve our membership

Photo © José Martial Bétoulet/ Ndima-Kali



In 2020, we organised our largest General Assembly to date, strengthened engagement of our Executive Committee and Council, adapted the regionalisation process to the ‘new normal’, deepened our thematic areas of work, nurtured several national networks, conducted a detailed membership review, welcomed 10 people in new roles in the Secretariat and more.