New leadership for sustainable development, territorial governance and advocacy
Ana Centeno is a Guatemalan woman who lives in the Carmelite Community, in the Petén Maya Biosphere Reserve. She is the head of the gender area and is a non-wood product operations technician for the Association of Forest Communities of Petén (ACOFOP). From her experience, she tells us the importance of developing new leadership and promoting values that allow people to transform the realities in which they find themselves.
ACOFOP is a community-based association, which is made up of 23 peasant and indigenous-based organizations, which through community forest management guarantee the sustainability and conservation of the forests of the multi-use area of the Maya Biosphere Reserve. This reserve is the largest certified area of sustainable tropical forest on the planet.The Carmelite Community is one of those that have concessions for community forest management for 30 years. These forest concessions offer the possibility that people can live and take advantage of the forest without damaging it.
ACOFOP is a member organization of the Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), supported by Civic Engagement Alliance on lobby and advocacy issues. AMPB has been promoting the Mesoamerican School of Leadership. In this school, young people are motivated to participate in actions of territorial governance in their indigenous communities.
In the school, new ways of exercising leadership are promoted, reflecting on the way we relate, and how this should be based on a framework of rights, recognition and respect for other people. That is why Ana has contributed to the Mesoamerican School, sharing her experiences and knowledge on how she has strengthened her lobby and advocacy capacities to exercise leadership.
“Gender inequalities in all areas of life compromise any process to achieve development. That is why from the gender unit of the Carmelita Cooperative, I promote participation in decision-making and economic empowerment of women”, says Ana.*
To be a good leader, you must first be a good human," adds Ana. “We cannot continue promoting leaderships that reproduce old ways of relating, in conditions of inequality and without opportunities for some sectors of the population. It is gratifying to see how women have managed to participate and assume new responsibilities in the work we do within our cooperative.
“The challenge we have as a community is to guarantee the renewal of leadership, the promotion of new values and above all to continue working together promoting a vision in which we all overcome adversity, without discrimination, without exclusion and with respect”, concludes Ana.