Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Nikoi Kote-Nikoi


In environmental conservation circles around the world, the contributions of indigenous peoples and local communities to the sustainable maintenance of ecosystems and natural resources are being given increased attention. Whether for cultural, spiritual, economic, or other purposes, the use of traditional and local knowledge of habitat and resource management is slowly making its way into the modern environmental movement. These managed areas, known as Indigenous and Community-Conserved Territories and Areas, or ICCAs, are defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “natural and/or modified ecosystems containing significant biodiversity values, ecological services and cultural values, voluntarily conserved by Indigenous peoples and local communities, through customary laws or other effective means”.

The ICCA concept constitutes a new way of thinking about environmental protection while incorporating the preserving of the human rights of indigenous peoples. After spending eight months working with a human rights NGO in Temuco, Chile, the author has focused on the ICCA concept for his capstone project. Through participatory research and collaborative efforts of his Chilean and indigenous Mapuche colleagues, the author answers the research question, “What are the major benefits of ICCAs, and what are the principal barriers to their broader support and effective legal recognition in Chile?” Based on his findings, the author outlines a comprehensive project proposal that seeks to address the underlying issues that have served to marginalize indigenous peoples in Chile. Furthermore, the proposal also supports the appropriate legal mechanisms required to give ICCAs – and their indigenous and local stewards – formal legal recognition.


Agriculture Law | Civil Rights and Discrimination | Environmental Law | Human Rights Law | International Humanitarian Law | International Law | Land Use Law | Latin American Languages and Societies | Law and Economics | Natural Resources Law | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies


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