Learning to be equal partners



Posted on 19 April 2014  | 
Circling and dancing for togetherness
© EdwinEnlarge
By: Cristina Eghenter

It was in Ba’ Kelalan, Sarawak, in September 2003, that leaders and traditional Chiefs from the communities along the international border between Indonesia and Malaysia gathered and first discussed a common future in the Highlands in the Heart of Borneo. A year later, in October 2004, the community leaders established FORMADAT to forge stronger ties among the indigenous communities across the border, preserve the common cultural heritage and protect their homeland of the Highlands of Borneo.
 
Sharing in the mission of conservation and sustainable development, WWF since the very beginning offered to walk together with FORMADAT on the long journey to make the Heart of Borneo a place where both nature and people can equally prosper. On March 26, 2014, in Miri (Sarawak), FORMADAT (Indonesia and Malaysia) and WWF (Indonesia and Malaysia) signed a MoU and officially became partners in the HoB initiative. 
 
The vision of FORMADAT is a vision similar to that of the Heart of Borneo initiative embraced by the three governments of Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia, and supported by WWF: value and protect Borneo forests, water and natural resources to build a more sustainable and better future for the people of Borneo. 
 
“We have no other homeland, save the patar dita' Borneo [Highlands] where we have lived for generations.  We are of one root, one ancestor, one tradition. We are divided into two groups, a boundary drawn between us.  We are in the Krayan, and you are in Sarawak and Sabah.  Even though a boundary is drawn between us, we are of one root, one ancestor, one culture, one belief. FORMADAT is a forum to serve the interests of all of us who live along the border of the Borneo Highlands.This is a good forum. It unites us in one fellowship, one thought, one journey, to look after our homeland, our rights.”  (Pak Lewi Gala, 2006)              
 
But the vision cannot become reality unless local people work with others partners, and environmental organizations and governments engage and support local organizations and communities initiatives. 
 
Visions and aspirations for sustainable development and conservation that are similar need, however, to grow strong and resilient. They need to be rooted in a long-term, iterative process of interaction, building common understanding and trust, listening to each other, sharing ideas and plans, and learning from each other. Those involved can thus build a lasting collaboration  and a truly pluralistic and equitable partnership.
 
This conviction has motivated FORMADAT to reach out to others and start building a network of local, national, international partners, and work closely with various government agencies, national and international NGOs, and the private sector. Partnering with other organizations and institutions is one way for FORMADAT to grow stronger and build support for sustainable development and prosperity in the Highlands in the Heart of Borneo. 
 
Strong partnerships can transform and move the vision forward. Equal partnerships can ensure the vision is shared and sustained. The MoU between WWF and FORMADAT hopefully seals the beginning of a strong and equal partnership in and for the Heart of Borneo.
Circling and dancing for togetherness
© Edwin Enlarge
MoU signing WWF and FORMADAT
© Hermayani PUTERA Enlarge
L-R: Ricky Ganang (FORMADAT), George Sigar (FORMADAT), Dato Dino (CEO WWF-Malaysia), Efransjah (CEO WWF-Indonesia), Lewi G. Paru (FORMADAT Indonesia)
© WWF-Indonesia / Syahirsyah Enlarge
Guests and partners on an event visiting community
© Andris Enlarge

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