North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchanges

Community Environmental Leadership Exchanges convene environmental professionals and practitioners. These community-led exchanges foster peer-to-peer exchange of innovative methodologies, examples, strategies and tactics to address specific issues, strengthen sovereignty and share knowledge. They aim to enhance wellbeing at community and landscape scales, seeding durable networks for mutual support. Community exchanges were launched in October 2013 at the first North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange (NACELE) held in Capay Valley, California.

Global Diversity Foundation is currently working with collaborators to convene a North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange (NACELE) in Sonora, Mexico in February 2017. This exchange will provide a space of training, network development, and discussion for Indigenous community leaders in northwestern Mexico on the theme of biocultural landscape protection.


North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchanges

The North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange 2013 was a highly successful two-part event on the theme From Conflict to Collaboration in Indigenous Territories: Tribal Strategies for Resistance and Restoration. The NACELE workshop, held in the Capay Valley of California, 14-17 October 2013, convened 30 indigenous environmental leaders, including representatives of Eat Your Heritage, a Guamanian movement for cultural revitalisation through food sovereignty. Excursions to the Yocha Dehe Tribal Nation’s olive oil press and Cache Creek Conservancy complemented indepth discussions on the workshop theme, considering issues of food sovereignty, conservation and governance. The workshop led into the Bioneers 2013 Conference, where attendees actively carried case studies and results into a panel in the Indigeneity Programme.


NACELE 2013 Cache Creek Casino


In addition to knowledge sharing and cross-mentoring, NACELE participants reported feeling strongly supported and energised by the workshop, finding connections and allies in their work. Indigenous academics received strong affirmation from practitioners and tribal government members for their work to indigenise the academy, while indigenous governance officials and environmental practitioners and activists appreciated affirmation of their hard-fought gains and the fruits of connecting with one another to exchange expertise and technical and cultural knowledge. Younger participants heard how critical their energy, skills and ideas were to native communities, made mentoring and networking connections and received encouragement to continue their bridging work and activism in law, ecology, food sovereignty, media and the arts.




NACELE 2015 was held at the Montréal Botanical Garden (MBG) from 18-22 June 2015. Drawing from its location, the theme, “Nourishing Relations: People, Plants and Place”, focused on indigenous practices of connection with biocultural diversity in both rural and urban lands and waters. During the four-day workshop, 40 indigenous environmental leaders from Canada and the United States met on traditional Mohawk/Kanienkeha’ka territory at the MBG and in the community of Kahnawà:ke. Professionals, practitioners, elders and youth shared research, strategies and tactics and stories of resistance, joy, tragedy, hope and transformation. We explored potential collaboration for environmentally sound solutions for critical issues facing indigenous communities in the 21st century.

Introduction to NACELE:


A short introduction video from the first North American Community Environmental Leadership Exchange held in Capay Valley, California, in October 2013. Detailed information on our Community Environmental Leadership Exchanges can be found on the Global Environments Network website.

To learn more about GDF’s community exchanges, please visit our Global Environments Network website pages for NACELE 2013 in the Capay Valley, California and NACELE 2015 in Montreal, Canada. To learn more about past events in Latin America, read about the first Latin American Academy of Socio-Environmental Leadership (ALLSA) 2015 in the Dominican Republic, as well as co-organiser Ana Elia Ramon Hidalgo’s blog post (in English) on the experience.