Indigenous Leaders call for new Global Agreement to Protect Amazon
by Inter Press Service, agencies
Indigenous Leaders call for new Global Agreement to Protect Amazon. (IPS)
Leaders of Amazon’s indigenous groups are calling for a new global agreement to protect and restore at least half of the world’s natural habitats.
The Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (or COICA), an activist group, has prepared a proposal that will be presented to the secretariat, government bodies, and NGOs during the ongoing 14th Conference of the Parties (COP-14) UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Egypt.
COICA was founded in 1984 in Lima, Peru, and coordinates nine national Amazonian indigenous organizations in promoting and developing mechanism to defend the self-determination of Indigenous peoples and coordinate the actions of its members on an international level.
COICA’s proposal invites more input and involvement of indigenous communities in conservation efforts and policy-making that addresses biodiversity loss, as the parties negotiate on defining the terms of the post 2020 global framework on biodiversity that is to be adopted in Beijing, China in two years.
The proposal resulted from a COICA summit held last August with indigenous leaders from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Surinam, and Venezuela.
“Nearly 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity is found on the lands of tribal peoples and that the majority of the most biodiverse places on Earth are tribal peoples’ territories,” said Juan Carlos Jintiach, a representative of COICA, currently in Egypt.
“Tribal people have been contributing and sustainably using the resources on their lands for thousands of years and it’s not possible to create policies that will be effective without their input.”
In the declaration, the indigenous delegations invite States and other entities to include ancestral knowledge in policies that address conservation, and is planning to start bilateral negotiations with different actors in an effort to create a fair ambitious agreement for 2020.
“COICA wants to work with other players behind a common goal to protect and restore half of the planet before 2050.
COICA is also pushing for a dialogue with the governments of the Amazon region to include the joint vision of the indigenous confederations through an “alliance and commitment to protect the region, its biodiversity, its cultures, and sacredness” to protect the rainforest and its “biological corridor”.
An agreement to protect a “biological corridor” that possesses over 135 million hectares of areas and is distributed between Colombia, Venezuela, and Bolivia is being promoted among the three countries.
The corridor will cover zones from the Amazon, the Andes Cordillera, and the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the regions of major biodiversity in the world and indigenous groups believe that their input and perspectives are important for the effectiveness of the agreement.
“65% of the world’s lands are indigenous territories but only 10% are legalized. Guaranteeing indigenous territorial rights is an inexpensive and effective of reducing carbon emissions and increasing natural areas,” stated Tuntiak Katan, Vice President of COICA.
In 2015, former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos welcomed Brazil’s input in the ongoing talks on the Amazon-Andres-Atlantic (AAA) agreement which, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s former president, considered analyzing in a statement during the Summit of the Americas talks in Panama.
Indigenous communities are also expressing deep concerns about statements on environmental policies and indigenous issues made by Brazil’s President-Elect, Jair Bolsonaro, during his campaigns.
Bolsonaro will not assume office until January, but he has supported a weakening of protections for the Amazon. As a result, less land will controlled by indigenous and forest communities and more will be open to agribusiness, miners, loggers and construction companies.
“His views are worrying, but the new government will also face a challenge in reversing policies that are already in line because they will lose their position as an international leader on environmental issues,” says Oscar Soria, senior campaigner, of Avaaz– a global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere.
“We wish to remind Bolsonaro that Brazil has national and international obligations to guarantee territorial rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and to respect their free, prior, and informed consent,” he adds.
“We hope the new government will respect international obligations and we will continue to stand by NGOs and Indigenous Peoples who are fighting to save the world – the world cannot protect biodiversity without Brazil but Brazil cannot destroy biodiversity alone.”
14 per cent more land deforested in Brazil''s Amazon rainforest during 2017/18 than the previous year. (AAP/SBS News)
The destruction of Brazil''s Amazon rainforest reached its highest level in a decade this year, government data has shown, driven by illegal logging and the encroachment of agriculture on the jungle.
Satellite images for the 12 months through the end of July 2018 released this week showed that 7,900 square kilometres of forest were cleared in the Amazon, equivalent to more than half the territory of Jamaica. That was a 13.7 per cent increase from the same period in the prior year.
Deforestation is a key factor behind global warming, accounting for around 15 per cent of annual emissions of heat-trapping gases, similar to that of the transportation sector.
Brazil''s environment minister Edson Duarte said that illegal logging was the main factor behind the increase in deforestation in the Amazon. He called on the government to increase its policing of the jungle.
Brazil''s Climate Observatory, a network of non-governmental organisations, said that the increase also caused by Brazil''s growing commodities sector as farmers sought to expand.
Marcio Astrini, from the local office of Greenpeace, said the Brazilian government had not done enough to fight deforestation and recent policy moves such as ones reducing areas under federal protection fuelled environmental destruction.
Both groups said they were worried that deforestation could increase further during the government of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro, due to take office in January.
He has sharply criticised the Brazilian environmental protection agency, and the agriculture sector is one of his main political bases.
Deforestation remains below the peak levels recorded in the early 2000s, before the Brazilian government launched a strategy to fight forest destruction. In 2004, for example, more than 27,000 square km were cleared, an area the size of Haiti.
Scientists consider the Amazon as one of nature''s best protections against global warming, as it acts as a giant carbon "sink" by absorbing the gas. The jungle is also rich in biodiversity, hosting billions of species yet to be studied.
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Attacks against and criminalization of indigenous peoples defending their rights
by Victoria Tauli-Corpuz
Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples
The Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples is gravely concerned at the drastic increase in attacks and acts of violence against, criminalization of and threats aimed at indigenous peoples, particularly those arising in the context of large-scale projects involving extractive industries, agribusiness, infrastructure, hydroelectric dams and logging.
These violations are occurring in the context of intensified competition for and exploitation of natural resources, as observed during country visits and reflected in the increasing number of relatedallegations. In several countries, increased militarization adds to the threats against indigenous peoples.
The Special Rapporteur has therefore decided to prepare a thematic report to draw attention to the escalation of these concerns. The focus of the present report is on the distinctive characteristics of attacks against and criminalization of indigenous peoples defending their rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and under human rights treaties, with emphasis on violations occurring in the context of development projects.
In the report the Special Rapporteur considers the collective and individual impact on indigenous peoples and assesses the effectiveness of prevention and protective measures, identifying good practices and prevailing challenges with regard to protective measures for indigenous peoples.
The Special Rapporteur notes that indigenous peoples are subjected to criminalization in a range of contexts including structural racism and discrimination, areas which may be the subjects of future analysis and reports.
In accordance with the mandate, the Special Rapporteur has continuously addressed in her country reports, communications to Governments, press releases and other public statements concerns over indigenous leaders and members of indigenous communities, and those who seek to defend their rights, who are subject to undue criminal prosecution and other acts, including direct attacks, killings, threats,intimidation, harassment and other forms of violence.
* Access the 20 page report via the link below: http://bit.ly/2NX4qJc
Sep. 2018: Statement by the Special Rapporteur to the Human Rights Council 39th Session: http://bit.ly/2xD0DpX http://www.iwgia.org/en/news/3283-defending-the-defenders-recommendations
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