Event materials, including hi-res photos from the Amazon and NYC press conference, are available to members of the media here.
New York, NY – New York Climate Week sponsors, including BlackRock and Vanguard, were among the American financial institutions exposed for financing the destruction of the Amazon and Indigenous land at a press conference this week held by Indigenous leaders from the Amazon region and environmental and human rights group Amazon Watch. Speaking at the same time as Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro to the United Nation’s General Assembly, Indigenous leaders traveling to New York from Brazil for the first time spoke of the harm and devastation caused by mining, oil, agribusiness, and other industrial development funded by financial institutions based in the United States and Europe.
Among those highlighted during the news conference for destruction in the Amazon are asset managers BlackRock and Vanguard, and banks JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, and BNP Paribas.
Representatives from the Amazon who spoke at the press conference included:
- José Gregorio Diaz Mirabal, a member of the Wakuenai Kurripaco people of Venezuela, executive coordinator of the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin, or COICA. COICA represents 511 Indigenous Peoples and protects 66 uncontacted and voluntarily isolated tribes.
- Dinamam Tuxá, a leader of the Tuxá people from Bahia state in Brazil’s northeast and an executive coordinator of the Association of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples (APIB).
- Toya Manchineri, a leader of the Manchineri people from the Amazonian state of Acre and general coordinator of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB).
- Tuntiak Katan, a member of the Shuar people and general coordinator of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities (GATC) and vice coordinator of the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA).
Leila Salazar-Lopez, Executive Director of Amazon Watch said: “It’s astonishing to see the hypocrisy of financial institutions, who proclaim to be stewards of the environment and supporters of Indigenous rights, continue their complicity in the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and Indigenous lands. And it’s imperative we listen to and hear directly from the Indigenous communities affected by American investment dollars so we can understand what these communities and the Amazon ecosystem are up against. The term “greenwashing” just doesn’t go far enough to describe the paradoxical actions of NYC Climate Week sponsors who continue to finance death and destruction in the Amazon.”
According to research published this fall by the Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin, deforestation and degradation have compromised the ecological integrity of 26% of the Amazon, and parts of the region are already at or beyond their ecological tipping point. An international coalition, including Amazon Watch and the Indigenous groups traveling to New York, is calling for 80% of the Amazon to be protected by 2025, which can only happen if the financiers of Amazon deforestation end their investments and complicity in destructive industries exploiting Indigenous lands.
Amazon Watch released two reports during NYC Climate Week exposing mining and oil and gas destruction in Brazil and Peru, respectively. The first report, entitled “Blood Gold: Complicity in Destruction,” investigated in partnership with the Association of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples (APIB) focuses on how companies such as Apple, Tesla, Samsung, Microsoft, Intel, Sony, Volkswagen, Ford, and General Motors, may be buying gold extracted illegally from Indigenous territories in the Brazilian Amazon.“The Indigenous peoples of the Amazon are the true guardians of the forest, and our rights must be respected,” said Toya Manchineri, Coordinator with the Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB). “Mining is one of today’s main causes of violence against Indigenous peoples and of the destruction of forests and rivers. No company that is involved in any way with gold mined from Indigenous lands can be considered an ally in the fight against climate change.”
The second report released, entitled “The Risks of Investing in Petroperú,” is a sobering risk assessment of Peruvian state-owned oil company Petroperú. The oil company is seeking to operate oil blocks in the Peruvian Amazon, including Block 64, which faces intense community opposition from the Wampis Nation and Achuar People of the Pastaza River. Petroperú is actively seeking financing from banks based in the U.S. and Europe to expand production.“Since the creation of Block 64, the Achuar People from Pastaza and the Wampis Nation have categorically opposed operations within their territories. There was not a Free, Prior, and Informed Consent process under the international standards of Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination established by ILO Convention 169,” said Gisela Hurtado-Barboza, Advocacy Associate at Amazon Watch.