Amazon leaders release declaration prior to major UN summit

Indigenous leaders and elders call for unity to protect the Amazon, and the planet.

Indigenous leaders summit in Bogotá. © Cesar David Martinez/Avaaz

A historic four-day summit in Bogotá, Colombia, attended by leaders and elders from major indigenous federations across the Amazon basin, has led to a declaration aimed at governments and international bodies, ahead of the UN biodiversity conference in November.

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In the declaration, world leaders are called upon to “unite forces” to protect half the planet, and to tackle the crisis affecting the Amazon rainforest, the world’s largest tropical rainforest.

“For us the Amazon basin is sacred,” says Tuntiak Katan, vice president of the Coalition of Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon Basin (COICA).

“Some say it’s the lungs of the world, for us it is the heart of the world, and in this heart we find an immense concentration of biodiversity and cultural diversity. Yet it’s here that they’re pushing ahead with more extractive and industrial activities.”

The leaders met in Bogotá for a four day summit © Cesar David Martinez / Avaaz
The leaders met in Bogotá for a four day summit. © Cesar David Martinez/Avaaz

The indigenous leaders came from eight of nine countries that contain Amazon rainforest: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

During the summit, the leaders discussed the options for preserving and protecting the biodiversity, cultures and sacredness of the Andes-Amazon-Atlantic Corridor, a vast territory that covers almost 200 million hectares.

The Amazon river dolphin is found throughout the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. © Cesar David Martinez/Avaaz
The Amazon river dolphin is found throughout the Amazon and Orinoco river basins. © Cesar David Martinez/Avaaz

“I think this initiative is important, we indigenous peoples share the same thinking about the protection of biodiversity,” says Wilma Mendoza Miro, from the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia. “Today we have many challenges, but the shared vision of this corridor unites us and gives us hope.”

The Amazon is home to a wide range of species. © Cesar David Martinez/Avaaz
The Amazon is home to a wide range of species. © Cesar David Martinez/Avaaz
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Click here to read the full declaration from the summit.