Stop the assault on Earth's green lung!

An indigenous man wearing feathers and a painted face standing in the forest with a blowpipe The Amazon Rainforest offers indigenous peoples everything they need to live. (© COICA.ORG)

The indigenous peoples of the Amazon are under siege – in Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and neighboring countries. Their rainforest home is being destroyed. Please add your voice to the indigenous peoples' appeal to the UN and South American governments to stop the destruction of the largest and most biodiverse ecosystem on the planet.

Call to action

To: the United Nations and UN institutions (CERD, UNEP, UNDP, ILO, WHO, FAO, UNFCCC, CBD, UNESCO and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), as well as the governments of the Amazon countries

Please help defend the Amazon. Save the planet's green lung and its indigenous inhabitants!

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“We are writing you because one quarter of the Amazon region, a global treasure trove of biodiversity, has already been destroyed. If deforestation is not stopped, we will reach a point in a few years where the ecosystem will collapse irreversibly and will no longer be able to fulfil its vital functions for life on Earth.”

This urgent appeal by the indigenous people of the South American rainforests is addressed to the world community. Their umbrella organization COICA, which represents thousands of villages deep in the forest, hundreds of indigenous groups and the nine national associations of the countries of the Amazon region, is calling on the United Nations and South American governments to protect their forest home.

The indigenous peoples have not only preserved the rainforests to this day with their sustainable way of life, they also actively defend them against exploitation by loggers, the agricultural industry, mining companies and huge dam projects.

They are often harassed, persecuted and criminalized for standing up for their home. Grave human rights violations are not uncommon, as evidenced by the murder of twenty uncontacted indigenous people by gold prospectors in September 2017.

The preservation of the Amazon is also vital to us: not only does the rainforest regulate the climate in South America, it also influences it around the globe. Large-scale deforestation releases enormous quantities of carbon and contributes to extreme weather events such as droughts, torrential rainfall and violent storms.

The indigenous organization is calling on the UN and the governments of the Amazon region to take comprehensive, international action, because deforestation and pollution in any given country also affects its neighbors and the planet as a whole.

Letter

To: the United Nations and UN institutions (CERD, UNEP, UNDP, ILO, WHO, FAO, UNFCCC, CBD, UNESCO and the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples), as well as the governments of the Amazon countries

Dear Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples,
Dear Mr. Erik Solheim, Executive Director, UNEP,
Dear Mr. Ib Petersen, President, UNDP Executive Board,
Dear Mr. Guy Ryder, Director-General, ILO,
Dear Ms. Anastasia Crickley, President, CERD,
Dear Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO,
Dear Mr. José Graziano da Silva, Director-General, FAO,
Dear Ms. Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC,
Dear Ms. Cristiana Pașca Palmer, Executive Secretary, CBD,
Dear Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO,

While the Amazon region encompasses the territory of nine countries, it must nevertheless be seen as a single entity and treated accordingly. Projects that protect only a part of the Amazon without curbing destruction in other parts are therefore ineffective, not unlike initiatives to vaccinate the population on one side of a border while people remain unprotected and fall ill on the other side. The same holds true for damming a river on one side of a border and thereby impacting neighboring countries, or discharging thousands of tons of toxic substances and emissions in one country and letting the poisons spread through the air and rivers and enter the food chain.

The recent killing of at least twenty indigenous people in Brazil is not an isolated case and demonstrates the urgency of the Amazon crisis. The indigenous peoples living in the Amazon region face similar threats and abuses: mining projects, the expansion of industrial agriculture such as oil palm plantations, oil drilling, illegal logging, extensive livestock farming, and infrastructure projects such as roads, reservoirs, canals and high-voltage transmission lines encroaching on their ancestral lands.

For these reasons, we are addressing the organizations of the United Nations to call for a UN international emergency mission in the Amazon region in coordination with COICA (Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica) and the governments of the relevant countries. Its objective is to curb the abuses that the forests and indigenous peoples face.

We also call on the UN to initiate a dialog process with the governments behind some of these projects, such as the government of China. This demand is unanimously supported by all COICA national associations. The objective should be to provide recommendations on safeguard policies for banks and socio-environmental standards for companies, which are currently insufficient or non-existent.

Immediate intervention by UN organizations is urgently needed in this respect. We therefore fully support the demands of COICA (Coordinadora de Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica).

Yours faithfully,

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