Advancing Indigenous Rights
The Amazon rainforest is home to nearly 400 distinct indigenous groups. These peoples depend on the Amazon rainforest for their physical and cultural survival, and have been its steward for millennia. Indigenous territories (claimed or titled) comprise more than a quarter of the Amazon basin. Unfortunately, most rainforest areas currently under threat from unsustainable mega-projects fall within the traditional homelands of indigenous peoples. Yet, despite their vital role in the region, Amazonian indigenous organizations have been largely marginalized from decision-making on economic activities and natural resource management. Leading researchers now acknowledge that involving indigenous peoples in land management and recognizing their land rights provides one of the most effective strategies for stopping deforestation.
Amazon Watch works in long-term partnership with indigenous communities and environmental organizations to strengthen their capacity to advocate for their rights and protect rainforest territories. We provide in-depth capacity building in audio-visual documentation, legal rights, political advocacy and media outreach as well as equipment such as laptops and video cameras. Internationally, we provide opportunities for indigenous peoples to bring their demands directly to decision makers and the global public, from United Nations delegates to CNN viewers to corporate boardrooms.
The Achuar indigenous people live in the remote headwaters of the Amazon rainforest on the Pastaza, Morona and Corrientes Rivers, on both sides of the Peru-Ecuador border. Amazon Watch works with the Achuar to defend their homeland against further destruction.
Since 1997, Amazon Watch has campaigned alongside the U'wa people as they have struggled to protect their sacred lands, traditional way of life, and safety of their communities. A peaceful indigenous community of some 5,000 people, the U'wa live in the remote Andean cloud forests of northeastern Colombia, along the border with Venezuela.
Indigenous peoples have faced numerous challenges in recent years as the Peruvian government continues a policy that marginalizes and discriminates against them while aggressively promoting the extraction of natural resources in the Amazon.
Predictions about the improvement of indigenous relations with the Ecuadorian state under President Correa have proven overly optimistic. The government has pursued contradictory policies, and efforts to expand extractive industries in indigenous territories have sparked widespread protests, followed by a crack-down on indigenous organizations and their supporters.