Eye on the Amazon

New Report at UN Climate Conference Exposes Plans to Drill for Oil in the Heart of the Amazon

"Our nationalities are asking all of the presidents of the world to listen to us and take action – to realize the amount of biodiversity and life that still exists there."

Sandra Tukup, CONFENIAE

Today, at the United Nations COP25 Climate Conference in Madrid, a delegation representing 25 Indigenous groups and nationalities from Ecuador and Peru united to bring a critical issue to the global stage: protection of a vital biome of the Amazon from oil drilling and industrial development. The imperiled region – known as the Amazon Sacred Headwaters – is one of the birthplaces of the Amazon River. Spanning 30 million hectares in Ecuador and Peru, it is home to nearly half a million Indigenous people from 20 nationalities (including peoples in voluntary isolation) and among the most biodiverse places on Earth. And yet, it's vulnerable to industrial exploitation with irreversible global implications.

"This is a global issue that endangers the world's 1.5° C goal. If Ecuador and Peru truly want to deliver on their commitment to reach climate neutrality by 2050, no further exploitation of the Amazon Basin can occur."

Today, the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative (which is led by Amazonian Indigenous federations CONFENIAE, AIDESEP, ORPIO, and COICA, in partnership with Pachamama Alliance, Amazon Watch, Fundación Pachamama, and Stand.earth) released a new report entitled The Amazon Sacred Headwaters: Indigenous Rainforest "Territories for Life" Under Threat.

The Amazon Sacred Headwaters: Indigenous Rainforest 'Territories for Life' Under Threat This report is a wake-up call and shines a light on an opportunity that Ecuador, Peru, and the world must seize. It carries a message straight from the people whose cultures and ways of life are connected to the future of the Amazon Sacred Headwaters.

"At a time when the world needs to be racing to protect the Amazon, a new oil boom in the headwaters of the mighty Amazon River in Ecuador and Peru puts this area, known as the Amazon Sacred Headwaters, in great peril."

The reason this rainforest region remains largely free of industrial extraction is due to the successful efforts of Indigenous peoples to protect and defend their territories. Their efforts have stopped extraction and bolstered Indigenous rights throughout the region and beyond.

Ecuador and Peru's plan to greatly expand oil production comes at a time of climate crisis. The science is clear: the world must begin a rapid phase-out of fossil fuel production and keep oil in the ground to have the best chance of meeting the Paris Agreement target goal of restricting global temperature rise to 1.5° C.

The oil industry is a major driver of deforestation in the western Amazon, both directly and by carving out new roads that facilitate access by other destructive industries like agribusiness and mining, which then further drive deforestation. Expanding oil production and looking for new crude reserves – unburnable carbon in a 1.5° C climate scenario – underneath standing forests that help mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon will greatly exacerbate climate disruption and devastate the livelihoods and cultures of hundreds of thousands of Indigenous people.

Keeping 5 billion barrels in the region underground is equivalent to avoiding over 2 billion metric tons of C02 emissions, and maintaining the integrity of the living forest preserves 4 billion metric tons of sequestered carbon.

The threat that new oil extraction poses to Indigenous peoples, biodiversity, and standing forests in the Sacred Headwaters region makes leaving fossil fuels in the ground here a planetary priority.

Read the Executive Summary and download the full report here. Please share and promote the Sacred Headwaters Initiative with your networks.

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