A voice for Just Climate Action – Zulma Franco

Zulma Franco is a community leader for the Ishyr Ybytoso people and a teacher in the community Virgen Santísima, in Fuerte Olimpo. She is a charismatic woman, which inspires and motivates the Ishyr community in Fuerte Olimpo and beyond.


The Ishyr Ybytoso and Tomárãho live in the Paraguayan Pantanal. They comprise an important percentage of the local population that inhabits the area, distributed in 8 communities along the headwaters of the Paraguay River with approximately 3,200 families.

The ancestral lands of the Ishyr Ybytoso people are more than 3,000,000 hectares in the Paraguayan Pantanal. Today they have access to only about 43,000 hectares (1.5%). Four communities suffer invasions by private owners. Three communities still need to be restored to the Ishyr people.

Deforestation and the over-exploitation of natural resources in their regions have caused the degradation of the environment. Extreme droughts and the region’s intensifying heat significantly impact the indigenous populations’ daily lives.

“Climate change and the way nature is suffering is a very worrying matter. Not only for indigenous nations, but also for the whole world”


The Ishyr communities of Fuerte Olimpo are organised to inhabit and capacitated to sustainably produce on their in-land territory. They have formed associations for traditional handcraft makers, fishermen and live-stock rangers. A cattle pond was constructed, and via a rotative system of community members, they are able to maintain their communal livestock, with a silvopastoral system.

An organisation of the Ishyr communities called The Union of Indigenous Communities of the Yshir Nation (UCINY), strives for the conservation of the territory and for the recognition and titling of the Ishyr ancestral territory.

“The territory is everything. It is the very existence of the Ishyr people,...”


Zulma expresses the importance for the Ishyr people to defend their territory and to demonstrate to outsiders that the territory of all is under threat. The protection of ecosystems, biodiversity and cultural wealth are fundamental to just climate action.

In her video story, she highlights that changes in the production model policies of the different nations that hold power must take place for their lands to be preserved.

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