Protecting the Amazon and our climate by supporting Indigenous peoples | Amazon Watch
Amazon Watch

Protecting the Amazon and our climate by supporting Indigenous peoples

Amazon Watch is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin in Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. We work in solidarity with Indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability, and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems. 

The Amazon is home to 400 distinct Indigenous peoples who are its best stewards. The Amazon River Basin is the planet’s largest tropical rainforest. A stabilizer of the global climate, it contains one-third of all species on Earth and a large percentage of the world’s flowing fresh water. The forest and its peoples are facing grave threats due to deforestation, resource extraction, land grabs, and destructive development projects. At Amazon Watch, we are launching bold, strategic, and timely actions to advance and amplify the solutions of Indigenous peoples. 

According to the Science Panel for the Amazon, the Amazon rainforest is at a “tipping point” – the point at which the degradation of the ecosystem is irreversible. Deforestation across the Amazon is 17%, and it is approaching 20% in Brazil. The tipping point will be reached at 20-25% deforestation, not 40% as previously predicted. To avert the tipping point, Amazon Watch is working towards the permanent protection of 80% of the Amazon via solidarity campaigns for the demarcation of ancestral territories.

Amazon Watch’s unique expertise is the combination of on-the-ground experience and long-term relationships with Indigenous leaders and communities, with in-depth reporting and media campaigns in the Global North, engaging the governments and  corporations that foment Amazon destruction. Amazon Watch’s work centers on three critical strategies:

Stop Amazon Destruction

Amazon Watch resists the destruction of the Amazon by challenging disastrous development projects that threaten Indigenous peoples and their ancestral territories.

With the  tipping point imminent, fossil fuel extraction, mining, large-scale hydroelectric dams, and highways cause even greater deforestation.

Amazon Watch protects millions of acres of rainforest every year by partnering with Indigenous peoples to directly challenge the corporate and government powers that threaten the Amazon and our global climate.

By exposing the global financial institutions that enable the worst practices of corporate actors, Amazon Watch is working to shift the economic and socio-environmental policies that affect the integrity of the Amazon rainforest and the survival of its peoples. Our proven strength is innovating effective strategies to reform the financial industry, a key contribution to the global climate justice movement. 

Advance Indigenous Solutions

Amazon Watch supports and promotes Indigenous-led alternative solutions to climate change, natural resource extraction, and industrial development.

Indigenous knowledge, cultures, and traditional practices contribute greatly to equitable stewardship of the Amazon. Amazon Watch promotes Indigenous-led solutions, such as green development and autonomous solar power, and expands capacity for Indigenous leaders, especially women, to maintain their sovereignty for the stewardship of their territories.

Indigenous peoples have resisted the colonization and destruction of their ancestral territories, which today comprise the Amazon’s best preserved rainforests. The most effective solution to protecting these forests is to uphold Indigenous sovereignty, protect and defend lives and territories, and support and amplify Indigenous-led solutions for forest conservation, sustainable livelihoods and regenerative local economies.

Amazon Watch is building a team of in-country human rights lawyers, providing emergency aid to earth defenders, expanding Indigenous story-telling capacity and delivering clean energy and communications hardware to remote communities.

Support Climate Justice

Amazon Watch joins with the climate justice movement to address the fact that the most vulnerable – especially Indigenous people and people of color – bear the brunt of environmental destruction, corporate greed, and climate change and are often excluded from top-down solutions.

Amazon Watch centers the voices and solutions of Indigenous communities into policies that address the global climate crisis. We advocate for principled climate action that include proposals and solutions from communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis who have historically been excluded due to systemic racism and economic oppression.

Through its Women Defenders program, Amazon Watch prioritizes Indigenous women’s leadership at the community and international levels. Women are on the frontlines of the multiple crises facing the Amazon, from historic oil spills and floods to COVID-19, and they are resolute in protecting their children, communities, and rainforest territories. Amazon Watch works in solidarity with women leaders, supporting economic empowerment projects and aiding in the growth of a Pan-Amazon Indigenous Women’s Movement. 

Amazon Watch’s Amazon Defenders Fund (ADF) provides resources to address the needs of Indigenous communities as determined by them, providing solidarity funding with a minimum of bureaucratic barriers. Initiatives supported range from community organizing, mobilizing, and strategy development; addressing  crises in Indigenous communities, including COVID-19, fires, oil spills and floods; the development of women’s leadership;  protection of defenders at risk; and the support of communal economies, infrastructure, leadership development, and capacity building.