Ahead of COP 26, Indigenous leaders and activists elevate fight for the Amazon’s survival to the global stage

23 Sep 2021
Clouds and thunderstorms form over the Brazilian Amazon. Stuart Rankin, Flickr

A call from Indigenous peoples and supporting organizations for governments, corporate leaders, investors and consumers to change the course of Amazonian destruction

Editor’s note: please register here to attend the launch.

BONN, Germany — Protect Amazonia! Life is One and in Our Hands is an urgent call from civil society organizations (CSOs), communities and people living in the Amazon biome that have united to reach the ears of global leaders in a statement released at GLF Amazonia Digital Conference: The Tipping Point – Solutions From Inside Out.

“Our knowledge is a treasure offered to enrich a new paradigm of human–nature interaction: Rethinking the economics of our societies, with their overconsumption that is destroying the ability of our generous planet to sustain life. Economic change is essential for preserving the socio-cultural and biological diversity of Amazonia and the future of life on Earth,” reads the statement.

The statement will be launched on Thursday, 23 September 2021, at 15:30 EDT/AMT (UTC-4, Manaus, Caracas, La Paz, New York, Miami) at the digital conference.

As the call clearly states, none of the world’s biodiversity or climate goals can be achieved without protection of the Amazon rainforest and preventing it from drying out into a grassland-type ecosystem, which could happen soon.

Indigenous Peoples, local communities and Afro-descendents have sustainably managed the Amazon biome for thousands of years and will play an indispensable role in preserving it for future generations. Yet they have been subjected to widespread human rights violations, including the right to their ancestral lands and territories, due in large part to insecure land tenure and weak governance and law enforcement.

Among other topics, the statement also stresses the urgency of addressing the poverty of Amazonia’s peoples and the legal insecurity of their lands and resources; calls for deforestation-free supply chains; encourages coordinated cross-sectoral and transboundary action to prevent Amazonia from crossing a climate tipping point; and emphasizes the existential threat to human society posed by biodiversity loss and global climate change.

The document further highlights the need to consider health, well-being and the social, cultural and political diversity of the people that inhabit the region – their rights, traditions and beliefs – in all future land-use, economic and infrastructure planning.

“Research leaves no doubt that Indigenous and local knowledge systems are strongly linked to reduced deforestation, sustainable management of natural resources and flexible adaptation to climate change,” said Solange Bandiaky-Badji, Coordinator of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI). “Global leaders must use this momentum around climate to amplify their support to secure rights for Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendant Peoples and local communities — particularly their networks of women – as an essential pathway to preventing climate change as well as supporting local livelihoods.”

Pre-conference initiative – The statement Protect Amazonia! Life is one and in our hands is the result of a 12-months long multi-stakeholder engagement process that included dedicated workshops for local civil society organizations representing Indigenous voices and concerns.

Ahead of the main environmental global forums of the year – Climate Week NYC, the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP 26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and GLF Climate conference alongside COP 26, we seek major international recognition and endorsement of the aspirations and visions expressed in the document. At COP 26, the statement will be positioned to influence the ambitions and commitments of new global agreements to protect the irreplaceable forest and its people.

***To request interviews with organizations involved in the statement, please email Melissa Angel, m.kayeangel@cgiar.org. For organizations interested in becoming a signatory, please email Nina Haase, n.haase@cgiar.org***

INSTRUCTIONS FOR JOINING: register as press here. The conference is free for those living in Latin America and the Caribbean and a small fee for those living in other regions.


The digital conference GLF Amazonia has been made possible through the generous support of: Ford Foundation, BMU, BMZ, the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and FOLUR.

Click here for a full list of organizations participating in the conference.

The Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) is the world’s largest knowledge-led platform on integrated land use, dedicated to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement. The Forum takes a holistic approach to create sustainable landscapes that are productive, prosperous, equitable and resilient and considers five cohesive themes of food and livelihoods, landscape restoration, rights, finance and measuring progress. It is led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), in collaboration with its co-founders UNEP and the World Bank and Charter members.

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