Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2021

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


John van Buren

Second Advisor

John Davenport


This thesis focuses on four countries: Mexico, Costa Rica, New Zealand and the Philippines, and focuses on the state of Indigenous land defender cases in each country. Each country has a different approach to granting free, prior, and informed consent to Indigenous communities in regard to environmental issues. Chapter 1 focuses on the issue of Indigenous land and environment defenders, explaining who they are and why they are activists within their communities. It also elucidates how Indigenous people are being treated within their countries and how reliance on ecosystem services leads to an environmental justice issue. Chapter 2 focuses on the historical exploitation of Indigenous peoples during colonialism and how each country’s history impacted Indigenous populations. Chapter 3 analyzes how the political framework impacts Indigenous peoples, and how rule of law in a nation can determine the fate of an Indigenous land defender. It also takes a look at international agreements within the UN and how NGOs play into the problems and solutions of Indigenous land and environmental defenders. Chapter 4 focuses on ecological feminism and Indigenous philosophy, analyzing the role of women within Indigenous communities and how they contribute to defending the environment. Chapter 5 looks at policies relating to Indigenous land and environmental defenders in each country and determines whether or not these four countries can learn from each other’s policies to better respect Indigenous peoples and the environment. Costa Rica and New Zealand, with stronger rule of law and stricter environmental protection, could provide models to Mexico and the Philippines, who struggle with Indigenous and environmental protection.