How We Work

Sustainable Villages

© Conservation International photo by John Martin

The power to design the future

The Rupununi is one of our favourite places to visit in Guyana. It hosts interesting exchanges of peoples, cultures and resources. At 25% of Guyana’s land mass, it is also one of the country’s most ecologically diverse regions. It provides the source water for the Essequibo River, hosts one of the world’s largest intact grasslands and its large forests qualify for substantial payments from the international community for global climate regulation services!

However, the Rupununi also faces a lot of challenges such as unregulated forestry and mining activities, extreme weather conditions and conflicting land use issues.

Guyana’s choice to pursue a green, diversified and resilient economic development path means that the Indigenous Peoples of the Rupununi must be fully supported to become empowered and effective stewards of their traditional lands.

The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs (MoIPA) designed the Sustainable Villages initiative in 2015 to achieve this goal. CI is helping the Government of Guyana and Indigenous People to create the Sustainable Villages Framework, which is a planning guide for communities to achieve their own long-term development goals.

At the heart of the Sustainable Villages initiative are 10 year Village Improvement Plans (VIPs). Each VIP is organized into six programmatic areas, linked to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Education, Culture, Health, Governance, Livelihoods and Local Economic Development, and Nature/Environment.

With VIPs in every Indigenous community, the Sustainable Villages initiative will improve planning, strategic investments, and accountability within communities, government and other development partners, and streamline the relationship between the State and indigenous communities. It is intended that this will aid in the National and Regional budgets and plans working for holistic community development and enhanced financial accountability.

The VIP is developed by individual community members and outlines what indigenous people want to do for the development of their own community. The planning process ensures that everyone is given the opportunity to contribute to their own development plan. Part of the process includes assessment workshops to cover topics such as available skills, resource mapping, institutional partnership mapping, assessing weaknesses and threats to the community, setting priorities and making plans of action. The Sustainable Villages initiative includes manuals and procedures for planning, proposal development, monitoring and reporting.

What we are

Under the Sustainable Villages programme, we’ve already had a big impact:

56+ Villages and Communities

Up to February 2018, 22 villages in Region 9 completed their Sustainable Village Plans. By December 2025 villages and communities across Guyana will have VIPs.

15 000+ People

The work under the Sustainable Villages initiative has impacted more than 15,000 indigenous peoples.

2M Hectares

This initiative has influenced sustainable development in more than 2 million hectares of Guyana’s terrestrial landscape.

Priority