Help indigenous leaders bring their message to the UN climate summit in Paris: Keep the Oil in the Ground!

To avert climate chaos, we must leave at least 80% of all fossil fuels in the ground. Indigenous leaders from the Amazon have the solution; they are already protecting many of the most biodiverse places on Earth from oil drilling. Amazon Watch will accompany our allies to deliver their critical message of protecting "living forests" to the UN climate talks in Paris this month!

"The protection of nature, forests, and ecosystems is the responsibility of everyone. What happens will ultimately affect us all. We want the Amazon to be valued for what it is, not just an economic resource. We are standing up for our lives, yours, the entire world and for the lives of future generations!"Patricia Gualinga, Kichwa leader from the Ecuadorian Amazon

Why are the Amazon and indigenous people important to solving climate change?

The Amazon is vital to global climate stability, absorbing vast amounts of carbon dioxide in its forests, releasing oxygen, and even regulating global rainfall patterns. However, the Amazon's ability to absorb carbon dioxide is at risk due to climate change, deforestation, and unsustainable industrial mega-projects. A major driver of these threats is the oil that lies beneath the Amazon. A recent study found that the carbon stored in the Amazon's indigenous territories and protected areas – many of which are threatened by fossil fuel development – is sufficient to either destabilize or significantly contribute to the stabilization of the planet's atmosphere depending on the collective impact of development projects.

For decades now, indigenous peoples in the Amazon have taken strong leadership roles in defending their forest homes from mining, mega-dam construction, logging and other threats, thereby addressing climate change at the source and protecting one of the planet's most important carbon sinks. But the extractive pressures continue unabated. For example, oil blocks cover an area of the western Amazon larger than Texas, and the world's largest dam under construction is in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Amazon Watch prioritizes supporting indigenous leadership in both local land rights struggle and at international climate negotiations.

From Sarayaku to Paris: A call to action from the Sacred Headwaters

Amazon Watch is helping to bring the voice and struggle of the Amazon’s indigenous peoples to COP21. We are supporting a delegation of indigenous community leaders, women and youth from the Kichwa community of Sarayaku in the Ecuadorian Amazon who will be advocating for the protection of their ancestral territories, sharing their vision of sustainable development based on Kawsak Sasha – "living forests" – and highlighting the importance of keeping fossil fuels in the ground as a climate solution.

With Amazon Watch's support, the Kichwa people from Sarayaku have transported a traditional canoe – the Canoe of Life – from the Amazon to Paris to serve as a focal point for their message. The long river canoe was carved from a single tree by a Sarayaku community and is a powerful symbol of the importance of respecting and empowering indigenous forest stewards in the global movement to combat climate change.

"Our medicine people and elders have been talking about climate change for a long time. It's only now that the scientists are catching up."Ena Santi, Sarayaku women's representative
"I remember my grandfather saying once that it is from the Amazon that the breath of the world comes, because without the Amazon the world would not breathe. "Nina Gualinga, Kichwa leader from the Ecuadorian Amazon

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Key Amazon Watch and Sarayaku delegation events

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"We can no longer deny climate change since our generation is facing what is happening to the planet right now. This is no longer a choice. We have to act and must act now because later there will no longer be a planet to fight for."Leo Cerda, Yasunidos representative from the Ecuadorian Amazon

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