The Amazon has already lost 17 percent of its forest cover and an additional 17 percent of its rainforests have been degraded. If deforestation increases and surpasses the 20-25 percent threshold, this vital ecosystem will reach an irreversible tipping point of ecological collapse. The Amazon rainforest, as we’ve known it, could dive into the process of “savannafication.”
In response to this emergency in the Amazon and a call from Indigenous peoples to show solidarity, Amazon Watch hosted a Global Week of Action for the Amazon (GWOA) from September 5-11, in collaboration with the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), the Global Amazon Assembly (AMA), the Pan-Amazon Social Forum (FOSPA), and many more coalition members from around the world. Using the newly-launched activist app, Noo.World, we organized online and in-person actions in solidarity with Indigenous peoples against a multitude of threats and amplified Indigenous-led solutions including the campaign Amazonia for Life: Protect 80% of the Amazon by 2025.
The Global Week of Action began on Amazon Day, September 5, which also marked Indigenous Women’s Day and the official launch of Amazonia for Life, a campaign led by COICA, in coordination with allies including Amazon Watch, Stand.earth, Avaaz, One Earth and more. This campaign demands the boldest commitment to protect the Amazon from world leaders to date, laying out 12 steps that must be taken immediately and calls on everyone to join this global pact, before the biome reaches the point of no return. The Amazonia for Life campaign celebrated its first historic victory on September 10, when members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) approved the campaign’s motion 129 at the World Conservation Congress.
Each global day of action during the week drew awareness about a current threat to Amazonia and its Indigenous peoples. The event was truly global in scale, with allies across Europe and Latin America hosting rallies in solidarity with Indigenous people’s resistance.
We mobilized to “Defend the Defenders” in solidarity with Brazil’s National Association of Ancestral Indigenous Women Warriors (ANMIGA) and the Association of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples (APIB), who mobilized over 4,000 women from 172 nationalities in the 2nd Indigenous Women’s March in Brasilia. In San Francisco, Amazon Watch organized an action outside the Brazilian Consulate to celebrate the resilience and resistance of Indigenous women in the Amazon.
We also live-streamed events happening across the globe, including the Women’s March in Brasilia. The march brought together Indigenous women across Brazil and the Amazon protesting the governments’ failure to protect their lands and life, often due to its ties to extractive industries. In the case of Brazil, the extractivist agenda is being spearheaded by President Bolsonaro himself, most recently by promoting the “marco temporal,” a pending supreme court decision that would bind Indigenous people’s right to their land starting only in 1988, the year the constitution was enshrined.
To amplify the outsized threat the pandemic continues to play in Indigenous communities, we joined our coalition partners, REPAM and COICA, for a webinar highlighting the internal strategies Indigenous communities are implementing to combat the spread and address healthcare inequities. We also organized a webinar and discussion questioning net-zero pledges to protect the Amazon.
On Friday, September 10, we highlighted “Forests, Fires, Finance and our Future” and we launched a new #AmazonCeaseFire digital action directed at the world’s largest asset manager complicit in Amazon destruction, BlackRock. Instead of using its power to actively push for companies to decarbonize – as science makes clear is necessary – BlackRock continues to invest in companies behind the arson of the rainforest. Alongside our Indigenous partners, we are uniting to demand that it implement binding policies on Indigenous rights and deforestation.
We also took action outside BlackRock’s offices in San Francisco with local allies including Youth vs. Apocalypse, Oil and Gas Action Network, Rainforest Action Network, and Brazil Solidarity Network, among others. We were honored to welcome and hear from spiritual and tribal Chief Caleen Sisk, Winneman Wintu, on the interconnections between the fires in California and the Amazon and her work to protect her peoples by protecting the salmon.
The Global Week of Action for the Amazon was launched in response to a call by Indigenous peoples requesting international solidarity during a moment of sustained attack against their rights and territories. With your support, we raised awareness and mobilized hundreds in defense of the Amazon rainforest. Together, we amplified Indigenous voices and brought their demands and solutions to the forefront.
As we enter the next few months of climate-related events with leaders from around the world, we must maintain the momentum and resist business-as-usual agendas alongside Indigenous peoples. Our next victory is on the horizon. It was no small feat to move members of the IUCN to embrace a bold promise. Motion 129 is a sea change. It’s the latest mandate calling on us to show up and win the next battle for Amazonia and our future.