Monday, October 10, 2016

"Down with oil. Up with Life": Amazonian communities at the front line against climate change by ADAM PUNZANO and JOE TUCKER

Indigenous communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon are facing considerable threats to their territorial integrity from the Chinese-owned Andes Petroleum. This puts them once again on the front line to preserve the Amazon on which the international community depends in its battle with climate change. Their resistance is inspiring and sees them pitted against some extremely powerful interests, but by employing an internationalist approach with partners drawn from across the world they have had some remarkable successes over recent years.

In the wake of the recently ratified Paris climate change agreement, which gives formal recognition to forests, and with the increased drive to enhance conservation efforts through the 
REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) mechanism, it is becoming increasingly clear that the efforts of those at the front lines resisting the detrimental effects of the global reliance on fossil fuels need to be recognised and their voices included to a much greater extent within the debate.

In spite of their frequent exclusion from the debate, i Most notably the community of Sarayaku have presented the ´Kawsak Sacha´ or ´Living Forest´ proposal at COP 21, which argues for a “shift from a modernizing model of development –a model that treats nature as material resource– to the alternative of Kawsak Sacha”, which treats “the economic system as an ecological web; the natural world as also a social world.”

The motivation to share their belief systems with the world is also held by the President and Spiritual Leader of the Sapara nation, Manari Ushigua. Manari has taken an active role in building a relationship with the international community through the ´Naku project´, a community-lead initiative inviting people to visit and stay with the Sapara to experience first-hand the spiritual relationship with nature and ceremonies that are carried out to facilitate this profound connection with the natural environment. He explained that “the Naku project is to get to know whether this forest is alive or dead and, more than anything, explaining how the indigenous communities, in general all the cultures, connect with the spiritual world”. It is understood that the more thoroughly they are able to communicate their beliefs and relationship with the forest the better chance there is of enacting the necessary change at the national and global level. The revenue generated through this project facilitates the participation of community leaders in vital international forums on indigenous rights and the Inter-American Court of Human rights...Read more: