Key to survival
As a means of survival, the indigenous peoples demand respect for their basic rights. The recognition of their land titles are a basic condition in securing their right to self-determination, for only if they hold adequate land they will be able to survive as peoples. Territory is an important element of their identity and is regarded as basis for social, cultural and political development. The main focus is thus not on the purely physical value of land but on its cultural and social significance.
Securing livelihoods and protecting the forest
The existence of the indigenous peoples and their cultures goes hand in hand with a healthy environment. To preserve the rainforests of the Amazon Basin, indigenous land rights must be recognised. Sustainable forest conservation will only work if the indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge is better used and their land titles are respected both on the national and international levels. Recognition of indigenous land titles and with it, the conservation of the rainforests, is therefore a direct contribution to the global climate action.
Fighting for their rights
Even if numerous amendments, laws, resolutions and initiatives have been passed over the last decades, mounting globalisation poses a significant threat for the indigenous peoples and their way of life. Indigenous rights are constantly being infringed upon, for example, by transnational corporations intruding into their living space.
In the 1960s, an indigenous political movement began to take hold – fighting discrimination and the destruction of their living space while advocating for their rights. Through this political fight and especially as of the 1980s, the indigenous peoples began receiving increasing recognition as serious political players.
Defending indigenous rights
Attacks on indigenous communities as well as illegal logging and oil drilling on indigenous territories – such events unfortunately happen on a daily basis in the Amazon region. These infringements destroy the livelihoods of the people living in this region and, at the same time, contribute to the climate change. It is often difficult for indigenous peoples to find legal assistance to stop these infringements and bring the perpetrators to court.
Since 1996, Climate Alliance members have supported the protection of indigenous rights nationally and internationally via a legal assistance fund, which finances attorneys and legal fees. Direct access to legal assistance is key to protecting indigenous rights and taking legal action against crimes committed, for example, the intrusion of oil companies in indigenous territories. With the fund’s help, several indigenous representatives that had been sued by mining corporations have been acquitted.
Photos: Sarayaku (women) | Climate Alliance ("peligro", group, oil)