Indigenous Fellowship Program

We received applicants from Indigenous Peoples passionate about creating meaningful changes for their communities around the world.

Transformative change for Indigenous Peoples begins with robust Indigenous leaders. Today, a new cadre of Indigenous leadership is needed for solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises.

This is why the FSC Indigenous Foundation is launching an Indigenous Fellowship Program (IFP) for Indigenous Peoples passionate about creating meaningful changes for their communities around the world, to catalyze change at the local, regional and global levels.

In partnership with USAID and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the FSC-IF invites applications from Indigenous Peoples to exchange, dialogue, and to strengthen their leadership and networks with the aim to facilitate the implementation of a project at the sub-national, national, regional, or global level and to share their experience and learning process with their Indigenous peers. The critical topic areas of this fellowship opportunity are Environment/Climate ChangeLand Rights, and Indigenous Economies.

The fellowship aims to bring opportunities to link traditional knowledge of Indigenous Peoples with practices in areas related to management, finance, business development and economies, sustainable resource management, leadership, and other important topics to support long-term Indigenous self-development, self-governance, and self-reliance.

It is our belief that the outcome of this support goes beyond training of participants and translates into real involvement and sharing of experiences for Indigenous communities all around the world. 


Applicants may apply to one of the four subprograms outlined below. If you would like to apply to more than one subprogram, you must submit a separate application for each.

1. Young Indigenous Practitioners:

The FSC-IF with headquarters in Panama is opening opportunities to work for a period of 2.5 months side by side with the Indigenous Peoples Alliance for Rights and Development (IPARD) Program Leads. A specific emphasis in one area of the Program does not exclude the participation and learning opportunities of the fellows in other areas of the FSC-IF, taking advantage of the FSC-IF multi-sectoral crosscutting strategies. To participate in this program, candidates need to have a university-level degree. English skills are desirable. This program is designed for professionals under 35.

2. Indigenous Leadership and Networking:

In coordination with the FSC family, opportunities to engage and partner with businesses and organizations linked to the FSC certification process will be identified. Participants for this opportunity could be individuals of any age who will spend 2-3 months interacting with forest-related businesses and learning about the FPIC process, economic viability tools, Indigenous Cultural Landscapes, and family and community forest approaches.

3. Indigenous Capacity:

This opportunity is open to fulfil the capacity needs presented by the candidates linked to Environment/Climate Change, Land Rights, and/or Indigenous Economies for short training opportunities (up to 4 months) in their own country or in another country.

4. Business Development Fellowship:

This opportunity is open to Indigenous youth entrepreneurs to promote the economic, social, and cultural development in support of the long-term self-development and self-reliance objectives of their communities they live in, based on their traditions, culture, cosmovision, Indigenous-cultural landscape management. To learn more about this sub-program of the IFP please click here.

Some fellows will be received in the FSC-IF office in Panama City, Panama, or in IPARD´s partner organizations in other countries such as communities, community enterprises, private companies, and FSC national offices. The organizations that receive the selected candidates will share knowledge and experience to improve their capacities as well as to guide them identify sources of funding for the implementation of their project ideas. FSC-IF will assist the selected candidates with the living costs (round trip flights, accommodation in the city or community, health insurance, lump sum for food, transportation, and visa). 


Applicants must meet all the following eligibility criteria to be considered for fellowship. Approval of training is up to the discretion of the FSC-IF. To see eligibility criteria, please click here.

Women with the requirements mentioned above are encouraged to apply.


Applicants may apply in English, Spanish, French, or Portuguese. The application deadline is 11:59 ET on March 31th, 2023. Applicants will be notified of the results within two months after the application deadline.  

Potential start date of fellowships: May and June 2023. 

Interested candidates must apply here and prepare the following documents. If you have any issues accessing the form or submitting documents through the form, please send us the information in this link over email.

  • A video, pdf or word document, slide presentation, canvas, among others describing (1) the motivation to participate including the interest in one of the three areas mentioned above, and (2) how the program will help the candidate to achieve her/his goals, a description of the project to be implemented after her/his fellowship is completed, and any other information relevant to this application.  
  • 2 supporting letters by Indigenous Peoples’ organizations that include the name, address, and phone number of the organization providing the reference (references cannot be provided by members of candidates’ immediate family i.e. parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents).

For the 4th Window of Opportunity – Business development fellowship, please check the additional information for the application.

Applications will undergo a rigorous and competitive selection process with the participation of the Permanent Indigenous Peoples Committee (PIPC) members, plus members of IPARD´s National Indigenous Committees and other high-profile Indigenous leaders.  


FSC-IF is committed to providing a platform for the alumni to share lessons and stories with each other and the greater Indigenous community. The following resources are available to connect FSC-IF alumni and other Indigenous Peoples: 

  • IFP’s Facebook group to connect alumni to each other and share their work. 
  • IFP’s LinkedIn group to connect alumni to each other and with other organizations and professionals in their country. 
  • Connection to periodic events and spaces of interactions in initiatives with FSC-IF strategic partners, including multilateral agencies, governments, and the private sector. 


For more information on IFP subprograms 1, 2 and 3, please write to the email below and copy Laurence Portal ( Program Lead for Capacity Development and Inclusion at IPARD, in the subject line. For subprogram 4, please copy Katherine Coronado (, Program Lead for Indigenous Women and Girls Economic Empowerment (I-WEE) at IPARD.  


A webinar to answer any questions about the four subprograms of the IFP will take place on January 31st at 9 am ET.  Those interested please register here. The deadline to receive your questions is Wednesday, January 25th, 11:59 ET.

Accepting applications from Indigenous Peoples passionate about creating meaningful changes for their communities around the world.


Global Forest Summit 2022

Three members of the FSC-IF Council will be speaking at conference aimed to take stock of the situation of the world's forests

Forests play a central role in the fight against climate change and preventing biodiversity loss. The guardians of the world’s forests – Indigenous Peoples and local communities – must also play a central role as drivers of solutions.

The Global Forest Summit brings together multilateral organizations, scientists, the private sector, NGOs, and Indigenous Peoples to provide a platform to stay up to date on global forest trends. The summit shares the latest data on deforestation, restoration, and sustainable management of the world’s forests and inspires concrete, rapid and sustainable steps on a global scale.

Speakers at the summit from the FSC-IF Council include Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator of the Association of Peul Women and Autochthonous Peoples of Chad (AFPAT) and Coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), Gregorio Mirabal, Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) and Kim Carstensen, Director General of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The summit will take place on March 24, 2022.

Find more information and register here.


Indigenous Innovative Solutions Photography Contest

We know that the best way to defend the rights and promote the solutions created by Indigenous Peoples is for Indigenous Peoples to communicate their own visions, with their own words and images.

We want to encourage Indigenous communicators and photographers to tell their stories, those of their communities and cultures through photographs.

It is for this reason that today we are launching our Photography Contest “Indigenous Innovative Solutions”, to learn more about their realities, problems, proposals, and innovative solutions to defend their rights, manage their territories, and protect Mother Earth.

The FSC-IF is a global organization created by and for Indigenous Peoples that seeks to provide long-term solutions that support the world’s Indigenous communities. Our mission is to co-create Indigenous-nature-based solutions with Indigenous Peoples around the world. We focus on promoting Indigenous Peoples’ rights, holistic self-development, and self-sufficiency.

Join our network of visual storytellers and participate in this contest after checking the Terms and Conditions.

For questions and concerns please contact :

Mary Donovan, Communications Officer of FSC Indigenous Foundation, at    

Terms and Conditions

Who can participate?

The contest is especially intended for communicators, photographers, and storytellers from the diverse Indigenous Peoples around the world.

We promote non-discrimination and intergenerationally, for this reason the contest has no age limit and encourages the participation of women and young people.

What are the categories?

Innovation and Climate Change. This category is open to communicators, photographers, or amateur storytellers from Indigenous Peoples of any age. This theme includes:

  • Indigenous-based innovative solutions related to climate change, forest fires, deforestation, biodiversity, water management, territory management, etc.
  • Traditional knowledge based on innovative solutions.
  • Innovative solutions based on the traditional and ancestral work of Indigenous communities in forest and biodiversity conservation.
  • Community-led efforts to adapt or to mitigate climate change.

Forest and Indigenous Peoples. This category is open to communicators, photographers, or amateur storytellers from Indigenous Peoples of any age. This theme includes:

  • Indigenous Peoples’ relationship with nature.
  • Indigenous Peoples and biodiversity.
  • Traditional knowledge for sustainable forest use, management, and conservation.
  • Indigenous landscapes, governance and management.

Indigenous Youth. This category is open to young communicators, photographers, and storytellers up to 20 years old.  This category includes:

  • Indigenous innovation and climate change
  • Forests and Indigenous Peoples
  • Indigenous youth and women innovative actions

Terms of the contest

  • All submitted pictures must be original.
  • Each participant is allowed to submit one picture per category.
  • Pictures containing recognizable individuals must have a prior consent for the use of the picture, attached to the registration mail.

Conditions of the contest

  • By submitting a picture, the person to whom it belongs automatically allows the FSC Indigenous Foundation to use the image in communication and promotional materials.
  • Pictures of individuals who do not have authorization for the use of the image will not be eligible.

Elegibility criteria

Only pictures that meet the following requirements will be eligible to compete:

  • All participants must be members of an Indigenous People.
  • All pictures must be original.
  • Pictures that have already received awards or recognition prior to this contest are not eligible.
  • For the third category, Indigenous Youth, photographers must be 20 years old or younger.

Awards and recognitions

We recognize and reward the work of communicators, photographers, and storytellers. The first three places in each category will receive a symbolic and economic recognition.

  • First place: $1,000 (one thousand U.S. dollars).
  • Second place: $600 (six hundred U.S. dollars).
  • Third place: $400 (four hundred U.S. dollars).


The contest will have the assistance of an expert panel composed of renowned Indigenous photographers from around the world, who will evaluate and select the winning photographs.

The evaluation will consider the following criteria:

  • Color.
  • Composition.
  • Creativity.
  • Relevance to the chosen category.

How to participate?

To participate in the contest, you must follow the next steps:

  • Download and read our terms and conditions.
  • Choose the category in which you want to participate.
  • Select the photo with which you want to participate. Please remember the picture must have a minimum resolution of 1500 pixels on the longest side and the file must have a maximum weight of 25 MB.
  • Send us an email with your picture attached to The email must include the following information:
    • First and Last Name.
    • Age.
    • Country.
    • People to which you belong.
    • Date and place where the picture was taken.
    • Short description of the picture.
  • If your picture contains the likeness of one or more persons, please attach a consent letter for the use of the picture.


Conversation with the first Indigenous woman lawyer in Panama

Sara Omi speaks about her journey and the importance of empowering Indigenous women and girls.

Sara Omi Indigenous Woman Leader from Panama

For every two Indigenous men in Panama who graduate from university, only one Indigenous woman graduates. Of the 16% of the Indigenous population over 10 years of age in Panama who cannot read or write, 63% are women compared to 37% of men.  

It is now the time to put Indigenous women in the driver’s seat towards a different future for them and for their communities, where they can build and manage Indigenous-based solutions from their communities to the scale of the challenges facing our planet.  In Panama, we have Sara Omi Casamá, an Indigenous woman of the Emberá People, who has broken barriers along her life as an Indigenous woman and leader. She is a member of the AMARIE association of women artisans, President of the Territorial Women Leaders of Mesoamerica of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests, and the first Indigenous woman in Panama to become a lawyer.  

As the FSC Indigenous Foundation is committed to the empowerment of Indigenous women as leaders, providers of solutions, and an integral part of the holistic self-development of their communities, in honor of International Women’s Day, we had a conversation with Sara on Indigenous women’s rights.

Listen to her words below. 

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