Reconnecting Indigenous youth to their forest roots

"Honestly when I first joined WEA, I was very insecure standing with all the amazing women from all around Indonesia who have been doing incredible work with their communities. I learned a lot from all of you. Meeting you all is my turning point.“ — Sumarni, 2019 Indonesia Accelerator Alumni


As women leaders from across Indonesia deepen their skills, grow their strategies, and build lasting relationships through the third year of WEA’s Indonesia Accelerator, we want to say congratulations to Sumarni Laman—a leader in our very first cohort. Sumarni who was recently featured in Global Landscapes Forums' list of 16 powerful women leaders restoring the Earth, for her work raising awareness and educating communities about forest issues and plastic pollution.

Indonesia is home to the world’s third-largest expanse of tropical forests, but forest fires have a devastating impact on many parts of the country each year. In fact, "Every dry season since 1997, forest fires have been one of the top drivers of deforestation in the region. According to a report by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, fires have torched two million hectares of forest and land in Kalimantan Island between 2015 and 2020 – equal to four times the area of Bali Island." In response, Kalimantan youth, the guardians of their lands, stepped forward to create The Heartland Project, a restoration initiative of Ranu Welum.

As coordinator of this Indigenous youth-led effort, Sumarni has worked with The Heartland Project to rapidly expand since it's launch in 2019. Already, they've engaged more than 3,500 youth from 49 communities across Indonesia, and planted around 8,000 trees. Learn more about Sumarni's work here.


With the formation of this year's cohort, the WEA Alliance in Indonesia is now over 80 women strong, covering 28 out of 32 island regions. We're honored to be "the turning point" in catalyzing the climate solutions of leaders like Sumarni.

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