By Elizabeth Seeger Sep 30, 2019

Few people know that my personal story of why I began working on environmental issues includes spending part of my childhood in the Xingu indigenous reserve in Brazil with a group called the Kisêdjê. The indigenous reserves in Brazil remain some of the best-protected forested areas in the Amazon region, though that’s under constant threat by the impacts of multi-national corporations, local and global politics, large and small-scale farmers, and squatters. Very long story short, I consider my experiences with the Kisêdjê people of Brazil to be absolutely core to who I am and why I do the work that I do.

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(Visiting reclaimed land in 2009 with Winti Suya)

I am proud that the Associação Indígena Kisêdjê won a 2019 Equator Prize for a multi-year project to reclaim their traditional lands and develop, as the Equator Prize web site describes it, “an innovative entrepreneurial model that uses the native pequi tree to restore landscapes, foster food security, and develop products for the local and national markets.” The Kisêdjê are on the front line of the climate change struggle. They see first-hand how a changing climate is affecting weather patterns and growing cycles, and they are committed to maintaining their way of life while being part of the solution.

When my team members and I began our journey with KKR Global Impact, we knew that learning from others who forged this path long before we did would be important. I consider the Kisêdjê to be one of my many sources of inspiration and motivation as we continue pushing forward with our own efforts to make meaningful progress with today’s sustainability-related challenges.

Three of the Kisêdjê, who are my friends from my childhood, travelled to NYC for Climate Week. It was a privilege and a joy to spend time with them during their trip—including a visit to KKR’s office! I also attended the Equator Prize ceremony, where 22 indigenous and local communities were recognized for their hard work and outcomes related to nature-based climate solutions. It was a beautiful ceremony that recognized the importance of indigenous knowledge, lands, and rights.

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(L to R: Ken Mehlman; Waduwabati Suya; Ngajwanti Suya; me; and my Dad, Anthony Seeger)

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(2019 Equator Prize Award Ceremony with Waduwabati Suya and Ngajwanti Suya)

If you’d like to learn more about their efforts I encourage you to check out the description of their project here, the video when they found out they won the award (in the middle of a traditional ceremony!) here, and follow their journey here.

Parabens, meus amigos!