Happy 25th Birthday, Amazon Watch! | Amazon Watch
Amazon Watch

Happy 25th Birthday, Amazon Watch!

Protecting the rainforest and our climate in solidarity with Indigenous peoples

March 11, 2021 | Eye on the Amazon

“Twenty-five years ago, I decided to answer the call of the Amazon rainforest and founded Amazon Watch to shine the global spotlight on the senseless destruction of this climate-stabilizing biome and to hold governments, companies, and financiers accountable. I am so proud of what Amazon Watch has become: an effective and trusted ally standing in solidarity with Indigenous peoples to protect the Amazon, the biological heart of our living Earth.”

Atossa Soltani, Amazon Watch Founder and Board President

Amazon Watch is celebrating 25 years of radical and effective solidarity with Indigenous peoples across the Amazon Basin! What started with our founder, Atossa Soltani, confronting Fernando Cardoso, then the president of Brazil, face-to-face on March 11, 1996, is now a powerful organization building upon that legacy and deepening our commitment to our long-term Indigenous partners.

On that momentous day, Atossa was denouncing a proposed “plan for the Amazon” that called for roads and power lines to criss-cross and dissect the rainforest. Even though we are still taking on presidents, corporations, and industries attempting to turn a profit from the destruction of the Amazon, we’re also proud of the many accomplishments and victories we’ve had along the way. Two and a half decades later, protecting the rainforest is now a prominent human rights issue, and we have your support to thank for this growing movement.

Every day, our team works to center Indigenous voices in the movement for climate justice. We’ve expanded our on-the-ground capacity and welcomed communications, legal, and advocacy experts to amplify our partners’ work across the Amazon. We’ve quadrupled our solidarity grantmaking and are decolonizing philanthropy by distributing nearly one-third of our budget directly to the Amazon. We are also rolling out new initiatives to halt the destruction of the Amazon, taking on the fossil fuel and agribusiness industries, and pushing financial institutions to own up to their complicity.

With 25 years of challenges and victories, Amazon Watch is putting our experience and strategies to work. We are acting boldly because we know that people power is on our side. We now have access to a powerful community of thousands of people who are taking action to make sure Indigenous peoples’ rights are guaranteed and that the Amazon is protected.

In honor of Amazon Watch’s birthday, we made a video that celebrates our story as told by Catalina Chumpi, a member of the Shuar Nation and a leader of Women Defenders of the Amazon. Most importantly, this video celebrates the Indigenous organizations and peoples leading the resistance to protect the Amazon and how your solidarity has made all the difference.

Our video touches on so many highlights, from the historic legal victory over Chevron-Texaco, thwarting the efforts of Occidental Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, Talisman Energy, and GeoPark to invade Indigenous lands, the prevention of the Tapajos Dam in Brazil, and increased global recognition of the work and voices of Indigenous peoples of the Amazon. There are a multitude of uplifting stories to tell over the course of this 25th year and this message is our “teaser” for what is to come.

While it is true that we are rapidly approaching a tipping point from which the Amazon might not return, we know that destructive industries such as oil are on their last legs. Companies that destroy the planet and violate human rights have never been more unpopular. Climate justice will prevail with Indigenous peoples leading the way.

Our work in the next few years will be vital in this movement for our collective future and we have big plans. Together with Indigenous leaders and organizations, we are building a pan-Amazonian movement to support, elevate, and amplify the voices and solutions of Indigenous peoples across the Amazon Basin. We will organize and advance a global commitment to protect the Amazon rainforest and the rights of Indigenous peoples.

As we cross this quarter-century milestone, we thank you! Your support has allowed us to remain in dedicated solidarity with forest and river peoples to protect their rainforest homes, advance their rights, and support Indigenous solutions to climate change.

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