There are numerous reports and studies that warn us about the destruction of the Amazon. So many, that there is a consent that we are dangerously close to a point of no return. However, civil society organizations, indigenous organizations, and other actors and groups are active, seeking and finding ways to avoid this turning point, showing that there is still much to be done.
For this reason, within the framework of the All Eyes on the Amazon (AEA) program, we launched the series “Solutions for the Amazon”, to share 8 innovative and creative initiatives based on technology, capacity building, local ownership, and defense of defenders who support the fight against large-scale deforestation, the degradation of the Amazon ecosystem, and contribute to the defense of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities from a Climate Justice perspective.
Thus, through conversations with representatives of the organizations behind each initiative, we present solutions that are generating impact from a community, national, and regional perspective on different fronts of action for the defense of the Amazon.
Technology as an ally
We cannot talk about innovation without talking about technology. And when it comes to the Amazon, technology can be a powerful ally for its defenders.
That is the case of Global Forest Watch (GFW), a 100% free online platform that provides tools and data to monitor the condition of forests around the world. In the first chapter of “Solutions for the Amazon”, Jessica Webb, Senior Manager of Global Engagement at the World Resources Institute, explains how indigenous leaders, community representatives, and environmental defenders can identify, through GFW, the exact points where deforestation in the Amazon is happening, to carry out investigations about the cause and advocacy actions in response.
Learn more about Global Forest Watch and its contribution to fighting deforestation in the Amazon here:
Likewise, MAPEO is a set of digital tools created by Digital Democracy, which respond to the local needs of indigenous communities and organizations to create maps of indigenous territories regardless of whether there is connectivity or not. Emily Jacobi, representative of the organization highlights that indigenous leaders, forest guardians, monitors, and a series of other actors can collect data to build the maps by taking photos, notes, or linking GPS points. In addition, this data can be shared collectively with other members, and each community can create and adapt their maps to be used to have a better knowledge of their territories as well to support legal cases for the defense of their territories
“Technology is not the solution. It is only part of the solution. And it must be at the service of our indigenous partners. When we do that, we’re not just creating more effective technology. We also strengthen the broader ecosystem that will ultimately protect the Amazon for future generations.”Emily Jacobi, Digital Democracy
Learn more about MAPEO and the collaborative construction process of this initiative at:
Access to Justice for Human Rights Defenders
While technology is important to identify the threats that threaten the survival of the Amazon and act in its defense, access to justice is fundamental to guarantee the fulfillment of the rights of indigenous peoples.
Michael McGarrel, Human Rights Coordinator of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) shares, in the series of Solutions for the Amazon, about the Program for the Defense of Indigenous Defenders, and its objective of responding to the constant violations of human and territorial rights faced by indigenous peoples in the Amazon, through a regional system to monitor cases, follow up and provide legal assistance to defenders when necessary.
Learn how COICA supports human rights defenders throughout the Amazon Basin with this program:
And although the lack of access to justice is a reality throughout the Amazon region, the Brazilian case has reached a critical point due to a context of constant criminalization of indigenous peoples in the country. Eloy Terena, a member of the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) highlights this reality of impunity and injustice and how, through the Observatory of the Criminal Justice System and Indigenous Peoples, they seek to make these cases of impunity visible and accompany leaders and indigenous leaders in their defense through research, knowledge production, data consolidation, and case follow-up.
Thus, the ultimate goal is to transform the legal culture of Brazil, so that the law is culturally adapted and guarantees the rights of indigenous peoples.
Learn about the challenges of the Observatory when acting in the context of the criminalization of the indigenous peoples of Brazil:
Strengthening the capacities of the defenders of the Amazon
Strengthening the capacities of indigenous leaders, environmental defenders and all community members enable new knowledge, tools, and defense mechanisms for the protection of their rights.
That is the objective behind the AEA Learning Platform (www.toamazonia.org), a collective learning space designed collaboratively by the partner organizations of the All Eyes on the Amazon program, in which culturally adapted tools and resources are available, such as videos, radio programs, and podcasts, case studies, free courses related to topics such as defense of rights, environmental and territorial monitoring, campaigns and communications, access to justice, in-depth journalism, intercultural health, among others. That, as Eliana Rojas Torres, Coordinator of Articulation and Learning of the program, reiterates, seeks to expand the knowledge that local and indigenous organizations have on the management of their resources, the management of their territory, mixing this ancestral knowledge with the use of new technologies and thus support the defense of the Amazon and its peoples from anywhere.
Discover all the resources available on the Learning Platform here:
On the other hand, the Leadership School is another valuable capacity-building initiative, in this case, focused exclusively on indigenous women of 4 nationalities from the Ecuadorian Amazon (Waorani, Siona, Siekopai, A’i Cofán ) on issues of leadership, personal development, business models, governance and conflict resolution.
The School has been a powerful tool for women to reclaim their roles within the communities because, as Alicia Salazar, General Secretary of Alianza Ceibo, explains, the knowledge of indigenous women is key to territorial defense. The school helps them strengthen their capacities, and facilitates the union of indigenous peoples.
“Because united we are strong to be able to defend the life not only of indigenous peoples but the life of the world.”Alicia Salazar, Secretary General of Alianza Ceibo
Local initiatives with high impact
During the development of the series “Solutions for the Amazon,” it became clear that initiatives to strengthen climate action in the Amazon cannot be developed without the voices of the indigenous peoples and local communities that live there. Because it is the indigenous peoples themselves who know best the needs of their communities and the challenges they face for the protection of their territories.
Precisely because of the need to strengthen the communication of the struggles, the projects, and the voices of the indigenous peoples of Brazil, Alana Manchineri, a member of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), presents the Network of Young Indigenous Communicators, a group of indigenous youth organized to strengthen communication for and from the communities, with initiatives to strengthen the narrative of indigenous peoples, train in communication and advocacy, and pursue the ultimate goal of defending their territories
This network has managed to empower indigenous youth of the Brazilian Amazon, creating content with indigenous identity and giving greater visibility to the work of indigenous organizations despite the difficulties of connectivity typical of territory as vast as the Amazon.
Learn more about the network’s work:
Another great example of a local initiative with a significant impact on the protection of the Amazon is the Bosque de las Nuwas, a protected area conserved exclusively by women of the Awajún people in Peru.
In the latest episode of Solutions for the Amazon, Uziela Achayap Sejekam, president of the Bosque de las Nuwas, talks about this initiative that has managed to rescue her forest and the ancestral knowledge of her people, through the identification and planting of ancestral plants, workshops of strengthening knowledge about caring for the forest and community tourism, even despite challenges such as male chauvinism and the pandemic.
“The forest is very important, it is our home, it is our fishing, it is our food. If we cut down the forest, if we burn the forest, we lose everything. When the forest disappears it is very sad. It is not easy to recover the forest. Look for support, look for strength, and look for a way so that you can continue to work with your forests.”Uziela Achayap Sejekam, president of the Nuwas Forest
Know their story:
Thus, the series “Solutions for the Amazon” shows the diversity of initiatives that exist and the different actors that implement them to strengthen the defense of the Amazon against deforestation, environmental degradation, and the extractivist industry. Similarly, all these initiatives pursue a shared mission to conserve the Amazon biome, and respect and protect the rights of its inhabitants.
Visit the AEA Learning Platform and learn about innovative solutions to promote climate justice on the Amazon: https://toamazonia.org/videos/solutions-for-the-amazon/