“They are making energy for private companies… and we have communities that don’t even have power.”
Rosa Marina Flores Cruz (Global Change Leaders, 2018) returned to Coady Institute in 2019 to complete an Indigenous Women’s Research Fellowship. As an environmental and gender community project coordinator for Yansa Foundation – an international organization for autonomy in renewable energy projects in Mexico – she works to mitigate the negative impacts of privatized global renewable energy projects in Juchitán, Mexico through asset-based, citizen-led development and advocacy for Indigenous land rights.
“In my own community we already have 28 wind energy projects,” Rosa Marina explains, “but they are projects that are built for private companies, and they are making energy for other private companies… and we have communities that don’t even have power.”
Rosa Marina says her home community started seeing the influx of these projects 10 years ago. People accepted the projects, she says, without a full understanding of what residents were agreeing to – that the community would not have access to the energy created in its own backyard.
“Lots of people just signed the contracts without understanding what they were saying,” she says. “They didn’t even speak Spanish.”
In more recent years, similar projects began surfacing in the Juchitán region and those communities were able to use the lessons learned by others to adapt a different approach.
“The communities in Juchitán know our experience, so at the beginning they said, ‘No. If we want renewable energy, we want it to come from us’.”
Coady’s asset-based, citizen-led development (ABCD) approach helps communities to identify and build upon strengths and assets, instead of starting from a place of needs and deficits. By taking stock of community assets, and improving local knowledge about the issues and opportunities, Rosa Marina and Yansa Foundation help facilitate with communities in the Juchitán region to protect their lands, improve access to energy using their own resources, and lead their own development.