We are working for a world where the environment is protected and human rights are fulfilled. Our specific focus is the intersection - in the rainforest - of these two worldwide struggles.
Our mission: To support indigenous peoples and traditional populations of the world's rainforests in their efforts to protect their environment and fulfill their rights by assisting them in:
- Securing and controlling the natural resources necessary for their long-term well-being and managing these resources in ways which do not harm their environment, violate their culture or compromise their future; and
- Developing the means to protect their individual and collective rights and to obtain, shape, and control basic services from the state.
We collaborate closely with more than 70 local and national environmental, indigenous and human rights organisations in 11 countries in the Amazon region, Central Africa, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. We do not seek to establish Rainforest Foundation branches in rainforest countries. Rather, we build long-term partnerships with legitimate and representative local organisations, with the aim of enhancing their capacity and effectiveness and elaborating shared strategies.
We are part of the international Rainforest Foundation network with sister organisations in the United Kingdom and the USA. RFN is a legally and financially independent non-governmental organisation, with a highly specialised staff of approximately 45 people.
Our operations are funded by The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rainforest Fund, Ford Foundation, Good Energies Foundation and Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. In addition, we recieve regular donations from corporate partners and the general public.
We were founded in 1989, following the formation of the Rainforest Foundation the same year by Sting and his wife Trudie Styler, after the leader of the indigenous Kayapo people of Brazil, Chief Raoni, made a personal request to them that they help his community protect their lands and their culture. At that time, we comprised the Norwegian branch of the international Rainforest Foundation network.
In 1996, we became an independent foundation, with five Norwegian member organisations: The Norwegian Forum for Development and Environment, Friends of the Earth Norway, The Development Fund, and The Future in our hands.
Our approach to rainforest protection
We espouse a rights-based approach to rainforest protection. We believe that the peoples who for generations have developed their cultures and societies in balanced interaction with the highly complex yet vulnerable ecosystems of the rainforest have fundamental rights to these areas.
Legal recognition of the collective territorial and cultural rights of forest-based peoples and communities is crucial to the fulfilment of their human rights. It is also a major prerequisite for the long-term protection of the rainforest.
Although secure tenure is not in itself a guarantee for sustainable resource use, we believe it provides the best foundation for working with people and communities to meet the challenge of combining development with the protection of biodiversity and the maintenance of the vitally important ecosystem services provided by the rainforest.