Eye on the Amazon

¡Amazonía Viva! Art and Action at COP20

Yesterday hundreds of indigenous peoples from communities across the Amazon joined together on a beach in Lima, Peru to create a massive "human banner" image to promote awareness about territorial rights for indigenous peoples in the global climate conversation. Beneath the heat of the sun and to the sound of beating drums, indigenous peoples and allies danced and rallied around a united message. Representatives from many Amazonian communities participated in the creation of the banner including Shipibo, Asháninka, Achuar, Awajún, Munduruku, Guajajara, Kichwa and Kampupiyawi.

"Together we created a beautiful image of what we want to see in the world. We want our rights and territories respected here in Peru, across the Amazon and around the world," said Juan Agustín Fernandez, leader of the Shipibo community of Cantagallo who participated in the creation of yesterday's banner.

The artwork coincided with the UN COP20 climate summit. Indigenous peoples and allies worked together to form a design with their bodies displaying the words "Pueblos + Derechos = Bosques Vivos" (Peoples + Rights = Living Forests). Participants aim to send a message about the importance of territorial rights to decision-makers and world leaders.

In the context of the COP20 climate summit, indigenous peoples from Peru, the Amazon, and around the world are advocating for a rights-based approach to dealing with the climate crisis. Not only are indigenous people some of the most affected communities, but they are also important leaders in the search for real and lasting solutions.

"Where the territorial rights of indigenous peoples are respected, greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation is reduced. We demand territorial recognition of 20 million hectares in the Peruvian Amazon to ensure legal security for our people. This territory should be for the community," said Achuar indigenous leader Henderson Rengifo, member of AIDESEP National Steering Committee. His comments mirrored recent studies that show lower deforestation rates in rainforest areas under the effective management of indigenous and other local communities.

The human banner event was associated with the COP20 Indigenous Pavilion and sponsoring indigenous organizations AIDESEP and COICA, with support from international organizations including Amazon Watch and Greenpeace; and aerial artist John Quigley of Spectral Q.

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