Brendan Tobin

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1997
AND Asoc. Para la Defensa de los Derechos


This profile was prepared when Brendan Tobin was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Brendan Tobin is enabling indigenous groups to participate actively in the design and management of projects relating to natural resource exploitation on their territories, as well as to lobby for the development of laws and policies which favor and respect their rights. He provides legal counsel, access to information, and, most importantly, a model for environmental and social impact assessment which strengthens the negotiating and participatory stance of Amazonian natives. His work with indigenous groups and organizations is based on his firm conviction that they, rather than outside parties, are the best advocates for their own true interests and can make sound, reasoned decisions about issues facing their communities.

The cornerstone of Brendan's idea is the democratization of access to Environmental Impact Assessment studies, which must be submitted to the government by firms interested in infrastructure or extraction projects in Peru. Brendan has not only convinced companies to release these Assessments for review by the public, but has also developed a method for training indigenous community leaders and other citizens to submit comments about how proposed projects would impact their natural resources and their communities as a whole. He has persuaded the Peruvian government to consider the indigenous communities' comments when weighing the merits of a given project. Through Brendan's assistance, indigenous peoples are empowered to design and manage their own sustainable development strategies and to defend their environmental, cultural, and territorial rights.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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