Where We Work


Map of Yunnan
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Yunnan is a mountainous province of south-west China with very complex topography and a diverse climate supporting an abundance of natural species. Since it is home to 26 ethnic minority groups, its culture is rich and heterogeneous. This biological and ethnic diversity has given Yunnan unique ecology and culture. People respect nature and their diverse modes of livelihood feature a rich element of natural species and spirituality. However, over the last few decades, the traditional culture of Yunnan has been gradually disappearing as people’s material wealth has improved. The condition of the natural environment is deteriorating while people are faced with new kinds of health problems. Furthermore, social morality has been ignored. There is a lack of care and courtesy in interpersonal relationships. People are confused about the purpose of life and are spiritually impoverished and exhausted. Because of this, an interest in traditional cultures and spiritual life has been rekindled. Among different communities, the concept of a good life can be summarised into four factors: pursuit of a spiritual life, satisfaction of material needs, good interpersonal relationships and harmony between human beings and nature.

Yunnan Programmes Focus on Four Areas

Yunnan programmes focus on four areas: Wisdom of Nature, Community Economy, Sustainable Living Network and Traditional Knowledge and Innovation.

Wisdom of Nature

Building on the foundation of cultural reflection programmes in Yunnan implemented in the past years, the Wisdom of Nature programmes will continue to focus on communities in areas rich in bio-cultural diversity to broaden and deepen understanding of the human-nature relationship as enshrined in traditional wisdom. Community-based activities such as participatory research and local conservation actions will be supported.

Local cases will be documented to enable communities to maintain their views, narratives and practices that connect people with nature. We also explore traditional and modern modes of community education which fit the needs of Yunnan Province for promoting ecological civilisation and ethics through expounding on the philosophy and world views related to ecology.

Community Economy

Some previous Yunnan programmes involved collaboration with traditional communities to explore modes of community economy built upon community relations and moral values. We plan to expand such exploration to more communities to further develop discourses and practices of community economy.

We support community surveys on local energy consumption, grasping the situation of energy use and its impacts on climate and environment, so that public awareness of the issue is raised. We back the development of various appropriate technologies. Through understanding the local traditional modes of economic exchanges, we support the construction and operation of local economic chains for sustaining production, supply and sales of goods that can meet local needs. We also try to identify platforms for exchanging goods and services that can help maintain mutual help and self-reliance within a local community.

Sustainable Living Network

We support communities to explore the meaning of sustainable living and initiate creative daily life practices, and further to build networks that enhance mutual support and exchange of experience. We try to understand existing networks in the programme areas and thereby identify those sustainable living issues which are the foci of local people’s concerns. Appropriate follow-up work will be conducted accordingly.

Traditional Knowledge and Innovation

These programmes emphasise supporting communities in nurturing their younger generations to rediscover their own culture and roots. We motivate communities to build up a sense of pride in their traditional holistic education, which in turn enables communities to understand the importance of arousing a sense of belonging and responsibility among the younger generation. The programmes will work with community elders, leaders, teachers, parents and young people themselves to identify and consolidate local platforms for the continuation of community-based education. Such platforms will include traditional institutions such as youth and clan-based groups, village elderly groups, old-style private schools, and more formal groups like elderly associations.

In cities and towns, we support citizens’ actions to recollect local histories and memories. This will help generate in people a sense of connection and responsibility with their place.

Theme photo of Yunnan