The Borneo Project brings international attention and support to community-led efforts to defend forests, sustainable livelihoods, and human rights. We believe that protecting human rights and environmental integrity in Borneo is a critical component of the global movement for a just and peaceful world.
In the late 1980s, indigenous communities in Malaysian Borneo made world headlines when they staged a series of blockades in resistance to logging companies who were illegally encroaching on their lands. International observers– including The Borneo Project’s founder Joe Lamb– came to bear witness to the gassing and mass arrest of protestors. Upon his return to America in 1991, Joe founded The Borneo Project with the immediate goal of providing support to those fighting to protect their rights and the critically important rainforests of Sarawak.
Since its founding the project has trained dozens of indigenous activists in community mapping, enabling communities to map areas of ancestral land claims and win legal cases and negotiations. We have supported paralegal education and mobile legal aid clinics that have helped over 200 longhouse communities hold off destructive logging and industrial plantations. The Project has coordinated over $500,000 in grants from international sources for community reforestation, organic gardening, territory demarcation, indigenous education, and other village projects.
The Borneo Project links grassroots indigenous campaigns with the global fight against the destruction to land. The project works to bring aligned communities together across borders to strengthen these movements and influence policy at the international level.
Their local work of supporting indigenous communities to secure land rights is a crucial part of the global fight to combat climate change.
It is obvious that loss of forests contributes as much as 30 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions each year–rivaling emissions from the global transportation sector. Protecting forests, while also reducing fossil fuel emissions, is critical in order to stabilize the climate, preserve global biodiversity, sustain the global economy, and protect the livelihoods of billions of people.
Hence, the well-being of forests makes a difference to all the world’s people, whether we live on forested land or far away from it. Over the years the Borneo Project has supported indigenous communities in Sarawak in their fights to gain legal rights over their land through legal aid grants and mapping projects. They also connect grassroots movements in Sarawak to global indigenous rights movements, strengthening the ties between communities to influence domestic and international policy.