“Roads are not what development is,” according to Helena Gualinga. An advocate for indigenous rights, the 20-year-old Ecuadorian shows that outside ideas about what helps women or indigenous communities do not always match the actual needs. Gualinga and others are calling for local partners, religious actors, and women in all their diversity, to be included in climate-related planning, policymaking, and implementation.
When a road is built to access an indigenous area, it doesn’t only bring improvement, Gualinga explains. These roads can also open communities to “exploitation, not just of our lands, forests, and natural resources, but also of our people – especially women.” Using examples, Gualinga and others speaking at From the Grassroots to the Global: Why Climate Action Needs Women, Religious Actors and Local Partners show how those closest to the climate crisis need access to decision-making tables to share their knowledge.