On the eve of a major biodiversity summit at the United Nations, leaders and elders from the major indigenous federations across the Amazon basin are calling for world leaders to protect half the planet, and promote a critical dialogue amongst the governments of the Amazon region, to tackle the crisis affecting the biggest forest on the planet. The call comes out of a four day summit in which leaders discussed the best options, based on their ancestral wisdom, for preserving and protecting the vast territory covering almost 200 million hectares from the Andes to the Amazon rainforest to the Atlantic.
At the close of this meeting, the assembled indigenous organizations released a declaration encouraging governments and other international bodies to "unite forces to build strategies to visualize and recognize the importance of this corridor, as a first step toward guaranteeing the existence of all forms of life on our planet," and to "weave alliances and commitments to promote, protect and make visible the Andes-Amazon-Atlantic Corridor, its biodiversity, its cultures and the sacredness of its territory".
This historic Amazon summit ran for three days in Bogotá this week, finishing with a formal presentation to governments, cooperation agencies and civil society groups. The meeting was led by indigenous representatives, and financed by small donations from Avaaz members worldwide. Technical support was provided by the Gaia Amazonas Foundation.
Indigenous leaders from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela developed a vision with the potential to safeguard an immense swath of the Amazon rainforest by pursuing an indigenous, holistic perspective. The interconnected environmental corridor as envisioned, is the same size as Mexico. In total the assembled delegates represent more than 400 nations.
Tuntiak Katan, Vice President of the Coalition of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), was present at the summit and said:
Harol Rincón Ipuchima, secretary general of Amazon organization OPIAC, host and co-organizer of the summit with Avaaz, said:
Oscar Soria, Avaaz senior campaigner and representative at the meeting of Amazon leaders, said:
From November 17-29 this year, the United Nations will call on world leaders from over 190 countries to strengthen efforts to reduce the loss of biodiversity, and to protect ecosystems that provide water, health and food security to billions of people. The UN Biodiversity Conference (COP 14 of the Convention on Biological Diversity) will take place in Egypt. Indigenous Amazon leaders plan to attend the summit, to share concrete and successful examples of sustainable resource management and ecosystem recovery, such as the case of the Amazon corridor.
Avaaz is initiating a series of conversations, and bringing a variety of actors and stakeholders together around the global goal of protecting and restoring half of the planet by 2050. There is a growing consensus among scientists that this level of global habitat restoration could leave us with the necessary base of protected ecosystems worldwide to help weather the climate crisis and continuing biodiversity loss.
Protecting half the planet isn't a new idea. Renowned scientists and conservation experts have proposed protecting 50% of the earth for wilderness, and devoting the other 50% to sustainable human management and development. Scientists say if we protect 50% of the planet from extractive, agricultural, mining, logging and industrial activities, the earth's ecosystems can restabilize and regenerate, and the planet's immense diversity can continue to thrive.