Indigenous Peoples' Declaration for the Protection of the Amazon Sacred Headwaters

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This is an urgent call for global action! The Amazon, our sacred territories, is being destroyed.

We, the Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador and Peru together with our allies, call on the global community for solidarity, as our very survival depends on the survival of the Amazon rainforest which is under constant and unprecedented attack. While the world has awakened to the terrible fires in the Amazon, many do not know that there are also destructive plans for expanding extractive industries within the area known as the Amazon Sacred Headwaters. These plans represent an imminent threat not only to our survival, but also to global climate stability.

The Amazon, home to an enormous cultural diversity, contains the most biologically diverse ecosystem on the planet, generating rainfall and maintaining the hydrological cycle for all of the Americas. The Amazon helps regulate the Earth’s climate. Protecting the Amazon rainforest is key for avoiding the tipping point of no return for our climate.

We call for support for our initiative and vision, which is rooted in Indigenous cosmology and seeks in its initial phase to permanently protect 74 million acres (30 million hectares) of tropical rainforests in the headwaters the mighty Amazon River–the Napo, Pastaza, and Marañon River Basins of Ecuador and Peru, an area referred to as the Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon: Territories for Life. This region is the ancestral territory of more than 20 of our Indigenous nationalities and peoples – some who are in contact with dominant society and others who still shun contact. Our original peoples have been conserving these forests for millenia due to our deep intrinsic interconnection with our land, as has been documented by ample scientific evidence.

We call for the global recognition of the Amazon Rainforest as a vital organ of the Biosphere. We call on the governments of Ecuador and Peru on the corporations and financial institutions to respect Indigenous rights and territories and stop the expansion of new oil, gas, mining, industrial agriculture, cattle ranching, mega-infrastructure projects and roads in the Sacred Headwaters. The destructive legacy of this model of "development" has been major deforestation, forest degradation, contamination, and biodiversity loss, decimating Indigenous populations and causing human rights abuses. We challenge the mistaken worldview that sees the Amazon as a resource-rich region where raw materials are extracted in pursuit of economic growth and industrial development.

The ongoing industrial onslaught is pushing the Amazon to a tipping point of ecological unraveling. It is urgent that the global community join forces to prevent further harm and support actions that prioritize protection and restoration of forests and climate, and that respect Indigenous rights. Protecting this enormous bioregion does not only benefit Indigenous Amazonians, but all of humanity and models the global imperative of accelerating a just transition to a post-extractive, pluri-national, intercultural, and ecological civilization.

In recognition of the importance of protecting the Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon, we want this cultural and ecological gem, these sacred territories and living forests, to be designated as off-limits to industrial resource extraction and permanently protected. We support a bottom-up participatory process of visioning a future for the region based on the recognition and respect for Indigenous peoples’ collective rights, the rights of nature and the pursuit of collective wellbeing – also known as Buen Vivir o Vida Plena.

We, the Indigenous peoples of the Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon, are offering the world a solution to the climate crisis by committing to protect our rainforest territories and leaving fossil fuels in the ground. This region represents nearly 6 billion tons of carbon in standing forests and undeveloped petroleum reserves.

As the authors of this declaration, our Indigenous nationalities and federations ask civil society organizations, scientists, governments, financial institutions, and others to stand with us and sign this declaration in support of protecting the Amazon Sacred Headwaters for the benefit of all life.

On behalf of our Indigenous nations and peoples of the Amazon Sacred Headwaters:

CONFENIAE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon)
AIDESEP (Inter-Ethnic Association of the Peruvian Amazon)
ORPIO (Regional organization of the Indigenous peoples of the Oriente, Peru)
GTAN Wampis (The Autonomous Territorial Government of the Wampis Nation, Peru)
COICA (Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin)

In alliance with the Indigenous nations and peoples of the Amazon Sacred Headwaters:

Fundación Pachamama
Amazon Watch
Pachamama Alliance

Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative partner organizations

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