Ahead of COP 26, the UN climate change conference, a collaborative group of Indigenous leaders, activists and scientists is calling upon world leaders to commit to saving the Amazon. In a statement the group urged great change in global economic systems.
“We, Indigenous peoples and local communities, have a deep spiritual connection to, and knowledge of, our territories and their management. 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.”
The Amazon, they say, is a place like no other, a place containing not only an incredible diversity of different life forms but also sustaining a diversity of human cultures. Not only indigenous peoples, but also unique Afro-cultures descended from escaped slaves that found a way to live harmoniously in the forest.
The group points to these cultures as sustainable ways to preserve not only the Amazon itself but also to protect against global climate change and as lessons to the world on sustainability.
“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.”
The call comes at a time when Brazil, which contains the majority of the Amazon ecosystem, is under the presidential leadership of Jair Bolsonaro – a president so dangerous that some claim the Amazon itself will collapse if he remains in power. This makes international pressure to protect the forest and its people all the more important.