Since 1978, Local Futures has been providing the people of Ladakh in the Indian Himalayas with information about the impact of conventional development in other parts of the world, while exploring more sustainable patterns of development in Ladakh itself, based on the use of local knowledge and resources. Local Futures has helped to establish and still collaborates with several important indigenous organizations in Ladakh, including the Ladakh Ecological Development Group (LEDeG) and the Women’s Alliance of Ladakh.
Our work is not about putting a wall around cultures. On the contrary, it is about establishing closer contact between the most and least industrial parts of the world. We have found that this contact is genuinely empowering, and can help to strengthen communities in both North and South.
~ Helena Norberg-Hodge
founder & director of Local Futures ~
Ladakh, also known as ‘Little Tibet‘, is a beautiful desert land in the Western Himalayas, with few natural resources and an extreme climate. Yet it has been home to a thriving culture in tune with nature for over a thousand years. Traditions of frugality and cooperation, coupled with detailed location-specific knowledge, enabled the Ladakhis to prosper.
When Ladakh was opened up to ‘modern development’ and the forces of the global growth economy, centuries of ecological balance and social harmony came under threat. Ladakh now faces many of the problems associated with industrialized countries, such as a rural-to-urban migration, unemployment, pollution and conflicts. However, Ladakhi civil society is responding to these issues with a growing number of positive initiatives that are helping Ladakh find its own path, rather than blindly emulating Western-style development. Local Futures (and its predecessors) has been part of this process for a long time. Our current work in Ladakh is based on over 40 years working in the region. Read more here:
Our Projects in Ladakh
With the help of enthusiastic participants from all over the world, we have run numerous inspiring and diverse programs over the years in Ladakh, including the ‘Ladakh Farm Project’, ‘Learning from Ladakh’, ‘Help with the Harvest’, and more. These programs facilitate deep intercultural dialogue, exchange and explore social and ecological issues and engagement with key debates in development.
In recent years we have also organized a number of intensive, interactive workshops with Ladakhi-led organizations, on topics ranging from media literacy to economic localization. Together with the local Ladakhi group Flowering Dharma, we have been running a recurring ‘Mindful Futures’ workshop for young Ladakhi change-makers, collectively exploring environmental and social problems and finding locally-based sustainable solutions.
In 2019 we came full circle by organizing our 21st Economics of Happiness Conference in Ladakh. With hundreds of participants – Ladakhi, Indian and foreign – the two-day conference provided a platform for mutual learning between local Ladakhis and foreign guests. For a full report of the conference by Alex Jensen, Project Coordinator Local Futures, read here.
To read more about our work for the years 2019, 2018 and 2017, click below or browse through our online newsletters for our annual section on Ladakh here.
Mindful Travel & Tourist Education Program
In the mid 1970’s Ladakh was suddenly thrown open to ‘development’ and tourism, which brought many changes to the peaceful, prosperous and largely self-reliant Ladakhi society. The increase of tourists has given the impression that life in the West is better than in Ladakh and has left many, especially young Ladakhis, insecure and confused. The aim of the Local Futures’ Mindful Travel & Tourist Education Program is to address the lack of knowledge between tourist and Ladakhis and to minimise the impact of visitors to Ladakh.
Read more about our program and watch a short video ‘Mindful Travel in Ladakh’ here: