IAP collaborates with people and organizations who are deeply connected with and dependent upon land and natural resources for their life, livelihood, belief system, culture and history. IAP exists because systems and processes can exclude or limit the participation of local communities. This seems particularly true in development.
While communities may have their own development priorities or not want any development at all, projects are often designed and implemented without their experience or expertise. Without considering their priorities or involving them at the earliest stages, development projects can cause harm.
The most destructive and high-risk projects are consistently sited in the most economically and politically marginalized communities. Communities facing abuse by development often have limited political and economic power in their countries and do not have access to information and decision-making spaces where development decisions are made. Ethnic groups, indigenous peoples, subsistence farmers and urban communities living in informal settlements are impacted disproportionately by harmful projects, and are forced to bear a huge portion of the costs. Although, given their status, these same communities should be, if they wish, among the first in line for any development benefits.
It is important to recognize that the field of development is often overly technical, inaccessible and operates across vast geographic distances. Beyond inaccessibility, frequently project information and the methods people affected can bring their concerns, are not available or identified. If they exist, key information may not be included – such as the exact sector and location of a major project as well as how the government and development finance institution have measured, if thoroughly at all, the potential human and environmental rights impacts.
Communities and local organizations must be at the center of any development project as active and informed leaders and community-led priorities must guide every a potential project. Until this becomes a reality, IAP believes communities and those determining development should be able to exchange expertise, experience and accessible information to inform how development is designed, funded and implemented.
IAP divides its work into three key themes: Community Organizing, Data and Policy.