COP25: indigenous rights, deforestation and fires in the Amazon

With COP25 kicking off in Madrid, Climate Alliance opened the floor for debate on the topic of indigenous rights, territories and resources with Alexander Van der Bellen, President of Austria. Our indigenous partner, COICA, the umbrella organisation of indigenous peoples in the Amazon basin, declared a humanitarian and ecological emergency due to the devastating situation – more than 500 indigenous peoples are in immediate danger. Against the backdrop of current developments and fires in the Amazon basin, it is of the utmost importance to listen to those threatened the most.

The direct link between deforestation and human rights violations in Brazil and our consumption patterns in Europe is the core of the matter – and where else to address the issue than at this year’s COP? The ongoing economic development of the Amazon region for ever increasing exports means that the pressure on the ecosystem – responsible for the regulation of the entire subcontinent’s climate – and the (indigenous) peoples living there is growing steadily. Climate Alliance and our indigenous guests from Colombia and Peru use the platform provided by COP25 to discuss the need to secure indigenous territories in the Amazon basin.

Among others, the EU-Mercosur trade agreement, which is currently being examined, would only aggravate the situation in this region if it was to be adopted. Indeed, it does not provide nearly enough safeguards to ensure the protection of the forests and their peoples. In such negotiations, it is our position that Europe should use its commercial leverage in order to improve conditions for both peoples and the climate.

Additionally, the EU doesn’t have any tool in place to ensure that its imports do not cause deforestation and human rights violations. For that reason, we fully support the growing momentum requiring companies to undertake human rights and environmental due diligence and hold companies accountable for their negative impacts. For more information, check out our last event on the links between European imports, deforestation and human rights violations in Brazil, where we discussed the issue with a broad range of actors.

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