From Amazon Leaders to World Leaders: We Call for an Ambitious Post-2020 Agreement That Heals Our Mother Earth
Leaders from the Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) present a proposal for the Amazon and call for the consolidation of a new global post 2020 agreement addressed at restoring and protecting half of our Mother Earth and managing the rest in harmony with Her.
SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt – The Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA) has presented at the 14th UN Biodiversity Conference a proposal for the Amazon, and has called on the governments of the world to follow the example of indigenous leadership in creating consensus towards ambitious objectives that ensure ecologic stability and the security of this and future generations.
Likewise, and as a result of the tone used in his declarations during the election campaign, the COICA made a pressing and urgent call to Brazil’s President Elect Jair Bolsonaro, to respect indigenous rights, the integrity of indigenous territories and international conventions on biodiversity and climate change as well as other agreements such as Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization and the United Nations Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
1. INTERCONNECTIVITY OF THE AMAZON: A PROPOSAL FOR UNITY
COICA will present before the Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity, governments and NGOs the “Bogota Declaration”, which describes the principles and joint vision of the indigenous confederations to protect the Amazon rainforest by using a traditional and holistic perspective. The area included in this interconnection perspective is the size of Mexico.
The declaration resulted from the COICA summit held last August in Bogota with indigenous leaders from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Surinam and Venezuela, representing over 400 nations. At the summit, they discussed alternatives based on ancestral knowledge on how to connect indigenous territories to preserve close to 200 million hectares of tropical rainforest, by connecting the Andes, Amazonas, and up to the Atlántico.
In the declaration, the indigenous delegations invite States and other entities to “join efforts to build visibility strategies, recognizing the importance of this corridor as a first step to guaranteeing the existence of all forms of life on the Planet” and to “weave alliances and commitments to promote, protect and make visible” the Andes, Amazonas, Atlántico corridor, its biodiversity, its cultures and sacredness of the territory” (1).
Tuntiak Katan, the Representative of the Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin COICA before the negotiations at the CBD COP 14 in Egypt stated, “Indigenous Peoples and local communities are a solution to the devastation of our ecosystems and climate change both in the Amazon as well as in the rest of the world. But whether policies addressed at mitigating climate change and promoting the restoration of rainforests succeed, depends on the security of having possession of community lands. 65% of the world’s lands are indigenous territories, but only 10% are legalized. Thus, guaranteeing indigenous territorial rights is an inexpensive and effective way of reducing carbon emissions and increase natural areas. Ensuring possession of community rainforests is a low cost-high benefit investment to protect our Mother Earth and stop extinctions.”
2. TOWARDS A GLOBAL POST-2020 AGREEMENT ADDRESSED AT RESTORING AND PROTECTING HALF OF OUR MOTHER EARTH AND MANAGING THE REST IN HARMONY WITH HER.
COICA is also present at Sharm El Sheikh to start bilateral negotiations with different actors in the quest for an ambitious and fair agreement for 2020. COICA wishes to invite all world leaders to work alongside indigenous leaders in the goal of restoring at least half of the Planet by 2050; COIA also wishes to promote a constructive dialogue with the governments of the Amazon region to avoid the terminal crisis of the Planet’s largest forest.
Indigenous leaders have stated that any post-2020 agreement must include active participation of Indigenous Peoples since their territories are home to 80% of biodiversity and 24% of forest carbon, and must also ensure funds for local communities. They additionally stated that they are willing to share their traditional knowledge and wisdom with any government that is genuinely open to listening about specific on site experiences.
COICA wants to open working tables and boards with several actors who are behind a common goal to protect and restore half of the Planet before 2050, which would ensure restoring the habitats and would leave us a minimum base of protected ecosystems to prevent a climate change crisis and the loss of biodiversity. Renowned scientists and conservation experts believe in the need to protect 50% and ensure that the remaining 50% is managed sustainably. Scientists have discovered that if we protect 50% of the Planet from human exploitation (whether from extracting activities such as mining, lumbering, deforestation to give way to monoculture, oil exploration), the Earth’s ecosystems may stabilize and regenerate.
Juan Carlos Jintiach, Technical Coordinator on Biodiversity and Climate Change stated, “The scope for action concerning biodiversity must not be alien to the decisions already included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2030, but we need to go much further for our vision as Indigenous Peoples by 2050 to be coherent with our own demands and realities at a local, national and international levels. These must not exclude a gender, and youth focus or the synergy between people, culture and Nature.”
3. A CALL TO BOLSONARO: CAUTION, RESPECT FOR INDIGENOUS RIGHTS AND INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS
COICA wishes to express its deep concern for the declarations made during President Elect Jair Bolsonaro’s campaign concerning his environmental policy and his approach to indigenous issues.
COICA wishes to remind Bolsonaro that Brazil has national and international obligations to guarantee the territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, to protect Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and to respect the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples and communities; and wants to advise that Brazil’s international credibility will depend on its actions in the environmental and indigenous sphere. COICA will mobilize as much international solidarity as possible to protect Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples and communities.
Juan Carlos Jintiach, Representative of the Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin COICA in the CBD COP 14 in Egypt stated, “Bolsonaro’s declarations are concerning because they nurture a disturbing tendency in different parts of the world, where almost 3/4th of environmental defenders assassinated in 2017 were indigenous leaders; where opposing agroindustry is the main cause for assassination of our leaders world wide; and where imposing projects on to communities without their free, prior and informed consent is at the root of all attacks to indigenous and community leaders. Likewise, we see that it is increasingly frequent for Indigenous Peoples and communities to face costly and difficult processes to legalize their lands, while corporations obtain licenses with ease. Because of this and based on the tone used in Brazil’s past election campaign, we call upon Bolsonaro to caution and full respect of the law, and particularly to ensure respect for the rights of our brothers and sisters in Brazil, ensuring their safety and physical integrity.”