Palangka Raya, Indonesia
Palangka Raya, Indonesia
What inspired you to join Mountaintop?
"I am inspired by the belief that to grow with our community, we must deepen our roots and expand our wings. Joining the Mountaintop Fellowship will give me a wing to fly so I can broaden my skills, expand my network, and gain valuable knowledge, ultimately enabling me to strengthen my roots and contribute to the development of my homeland."
Sumarni Laman is an indigenous youth climate advocate actively involved in environmental initiatives to address the challenges posed by deforestation, forest fires, and mining. Sumarni also serves as Project Lead in Bali for Replant World, a reforestation organization.
Sumarni, who is a member of the Dayak Community and lives in Borneo, has seen her people marginalized by poorly adapted national policies which have taken away her community’s livelihood and have endangered local forests. Inspired by an indigenous leader who told her that some people can best serve the community by “growing wings” to go somewhere else and then give back to the community, Sumarni received a degree in Chemistry Education from Universitas Palangka Raya in Indonesia, a Master of Public Policy from the School of Government and Public Policy in Bogor, Indonesia, and a leadership certificate at Montana University in the United States as a YSEALI Fellow before returning to her community. Sumarni has led several climate action movements, including the “Heartland Project,” a collective solidarity tree-planting movement across Indonesia which in 2019 activated more than 3,500 youth from 49 communities across Indonesia and planted around 8,000 trees, including in areas previously damaged by forest fires. In 2023, another 10,000 trees were planted. Sumarni has also led large-scale media campaigns to draw attention to the violation of indigenous rights and the environmental impacts of forest fires and mining. Because of her language skills and cultural knowledge, Sumarni often serves as a liaison between government agencies, youth organizations, indigenous communities, and sponsors.
In her fellowship, Sumarni aims to empower sustainable agroforestry in Pilang and Tanjung Sanggalang Villages in order to provide economic stability for Dayak people while also preserving and incorporating traditional Dayak farming wisdom. This work will foster community resilience in the face of challenges posed by the ban on traditional fire-based farming methods.