Civil society building efforts in Ecuador have provided the Achuar and Kichwas of the Amazon with a voice. This is particularly relevant given the global significance of the Amazon, which makes it essential that local voices are empowered to have a say in the future of their local space. Civil society building efforts aim at empowering historically excluded groups, leading to their political inclusion, as well as to an increase in their decision-making power. The Amazonian indigenous movement demands autonomy, but this has become unattainable due to the area’s insertion into the process of globalisation. In response, the Amazonian indigenous movement has joined forces with counterhegemonic global actors such as activists and environmental NGOs. Donor support to the indigenous movement in the Ecuadorian Amazon empowered indigenous leaders, who have challenged traditional economic development models in their efforts to achieve Sumak Kawsay, or ‘the good life’. The resistance of the indigenous movement of the Amazon to a developmental model that has not delivered on its promises has inspired alternative solutions among post-development enthusiasts, academics and activists. This case study of the Amazon in a global era shows how power relations play out between the indigenous leadership and powerful external actors concerned with the administration of the Amazon´s resources. Civil society building in the Amazon has provided the platform for the expression of indigenous voices. Independently of whether or not powerful groups agree with these visions, these voices have opened up the debate on development alternatives.

Erasmus University Rotterdam
The Power of Civil Society: Working Paper Series
The Power of Civil Society Working Paper Series
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

Wallis, B. (2010). Localised Voices in the globalised Amazon: challenges of civil society building in Ecuador (No. 4). The Power of Civil Society Working Paper Series. Retrieved from