Press release | 08.08.2017

Cologne agrees climate partnership with indigenous peoples in Peru

Climate Alliance city shows solidarity with communities in the Amazon Basin for the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

Frankfurt/Cologne, 8 August 2017. The Cologne City Council unanimously voted to establish a climate partnership with indigenous peoples in the Peruvian Amazon in anticipation of the UN Indigenous Peoples Day on 9 August. In cooperation with the Climate Alliance city network, Cologne will thereby be supporting the Association of the Indigenous Communities of the Ucayali and its tributaries (FECONAU).

Concretely, the partnership aims to support the Shipibo-Conibo community in its fight against the expansion of palm oil plantations in its territory. Despite legal recognition of Shipibo-Conibo land, the Peruvian State maintains the rights of use and continues to distribute licenses for the cultivation of highly destructive monocultures.

“The indigenous population doesn’t only see its rights endangered by the current situation, but its entire existence,” laments Cologne Mayor Andreas Wolter. Wolter had the opportunity to see the situation in Peru first hand this spring within the framework of Cologne’s Climate Alliance membership. His experiences served as the basis for the city’s recent decision.

“Cologne’s example should encourage further municipalities to establish partnerships with indigenous peoples of the rainforest,” comments Thomas Brose, Executive Directors of the Climate Alliance. “It is only through direct contact with our indigenous partners that we in Europe can learn more about the effects of resource overuse and climate change in the Amazonia.”

Large monocultures such as palm oil plantations threaten the livelihoods of many indigenous peoples. Communities like the Shipibo-Conibo are thus confronted with soil and water pollution resulting from pesticides, with blocked access to traditional food sources and with the loss of forest areas and biodiversity. The EU is one of the world’s largest importers of palm oil, particularly for use as biofuel. Palm oil cultivation has expanded greatly in the last several years, often at the expense of primary forest. This, in turn, leads to significant greenhouse gas emissions. Cologne’s climate partnership thus not only serves a political and social function, but is also part of the city’s climate action activities.

Representatives of FECONAU, like many other indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin, see themselves as part of the solution in the fight against climate change. For Mayor Wolter, this is exactly what makes the alliance so interesting. “By supporting the indigenous we are also doing something for climate protection. We are talking about a small gesture with a large effect!”



Photo: Mayor Andreas Wolter in Yarinacocha, Peru