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Taken from the Sanskrit word for healing, unity and peace, Samdhana was formed in 2003 by a group of conservationists and development experts, the first generation of Samdhana Fellows, who catalysed networks of shared knowledge and traditional wisdom. Today, we continue this work of giving back, working to empower Indigenous peoples and local communities, and the women, youth, and persons with different abilities. 

Our Vision

A region where natural, cultural and spiritual diversity are valued, where communities have control over their territories and well-being.

Our Mission

For communities to have land rights for their territories and full recourse to the rule of law; through a combination of independent leadership and organisational support, they will be responsible for their own development and well-being.

Our Values



Respect for individual rights and community perspectives, with full access to the rule of law.



Good governance, built around sustainable resource management and rooted in mutual respect.


Diversity and Inclusivity

Fostering a culture of equality and celebrating the diverse tapestry of our cultural differences.


Transparency and Accountability

We comply with the highest international standards of good governance. We are open to change, responsive to feedback, and committed to providing accurate, timely reports of the work we do.

What We Do


Conflict Resolution

In support of cultural security and sustainable development for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) across Southeast Asia, Samdhana supports resource conflict resolution and mediation, especially on land tenure and resource governance. Through a combination of understanding, analysis, policy, and management, we advocate for community-based property rights, giving priority to threatened communities and ecosystems.

Natural Resource Governance

Indigenous rights and interests should be integral to policy and resource management. That’s why Samdhana is helping local communities to document, adapt, and implement culture-based systems into modern arrangements; through a combination of land use planning, resource inventory, and leadership development, we help local institutions to integrate their own landscape-seascape management schemes into wider monitoring networks.

Climate Change

Focusing on landscapes earmarked for low emissions development, we help secure land rights for indigenous communities so they can take the lead. This involves outreach activities to communicate and clarify rights holders’ understanding of climate change and their roles as guardians of the landscape. Through carbon sequestration initiatives, rights mapping, green development planning, and community REDD+ projects, Samdhana is working alongside IPLCs to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Social Equality

Samdhana celebrates and elevates the role of women in indigenous communities, highlighting the vital contributions they make to sustainable livelihoods, culture, and community education. We support local women in taking on leadership roles while also expanding social inclusion to involve differently abled people, youth groups, and the elderly. When faced by a multitude of challenges, diversity is our greatest strength.

Leadership Development

Through a combination of peer learning, systems thinking, reflection, and mentoring approaches, Samdhana supports communities’ right to self-determination. We provide governance and leadership programmes that help community leaders, NGOs, and other civil society leaders to reflect upon their experiences and strengthen their skills while also elevating the roles and responsibilities of local leaders.

Our Goals


To support IPLCs in defining, securing, and asserting the right to occupy and govern their own lands and to self-determination.


To help build resilient and well-governed communities, so they are better equipped for climate adaptation; to reduce risk through integrated land and seascape management; and to support the diversification of livelihoods.


To nurture individuals, communities, organizations and networks; to catalyse the realisation and enjoyment of IPLC rights; and to facilitate social mobility.


To build an innovative, caring, sustainable, and effective organization; to learn and grow, together within a collaborative social movement.

Samdhana Board
Some of the Samdhana Fellows from the Philippines and Indonesia, at the Regional Forum on The Role of Indigenous Knowledge in Rights-based Sustainable Development, held in October 2019 at Jogja, Indonesia

Samdhana Boards Members are responsible for the overall governance of the Institute.

Samdhana Staff
Samdhana staff during the staff retreat at Banyuwangi, August 2019

Samdhana currently has 58 full-time members of staff, who are the driving force behind the implementation of programs and projects. Our teams are based in Bogor (West Java) and Papua in Indonesia; in Cagayan de Oro, the Calamian Islands, and Palawan in the Philippines; and in Vientiane, Laos. 

Samdhana Fellow
Samdhana staff during the staff retreat at Banyuwangi, August 2019

The Samdhana Institute is defined by its fellows. Together, they leverage their skills, knowledge, experience, and networks to help realise the Samdhana vision. Their credentials give the institute its strength; their dedication ensures its sustainability.