The Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world, covering 1.7 billion acres in the heart of Brazil. It is also the ancestral home of an estimated one million indigenous people who are apart of around 400 tribes. Each of these tribes has its own individual language, culture, and territory. Yet, these tribes and their homes are being threatened due to deforestation. At the current rates, The Amazon Rainforest will be severely degraded by the year 2020.
Amazon Watch is protecting the indigenous lands of the Amazon. Founded in 1996, this nonprofit not only protects the rainforest but to also campaigns for the indigenous human rights of the people living in the Amazon. According to their website, Amazon Watch strives “for a world in which governments, corporations and civil society respect the collective rights of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent over any activity affecting their territories and resources.”
Amazon Watch is protecting the indigenous lands of the Amazon by advancing solutions, including green development and autonomous solar power. The organization has launched an indigenous solar communications project with Empowered By Light. This project provides clean energy for lights and communication systems for indigenous people in Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador. Amazon Watch will continue to install these solar and communication systems while providing training about their uses and upkeep.
Sending a Message to Large Corporations
Amazon Watch is protecting the indigenous lands of the Amazon one campaign at a time. Its current campaign, #EndAmazonCrude, is educating others on the dangers of oil drilling in the Amazon. Oil drilling threatens the survival of indigenous people as well as the land and indigenous species that live there. Each day, around ten million gallons of Amazon crude is delivered to The USA.
One of the biggest consumers of this fuel is Amazon.com, due to their transport operations. Many consider it unacceptable to be profiting off the name “Amazon” while destroying the real Amazon Rainforest. Amazon Watch is helping people spread the #EndAmazonCrude message via social media and sending emails Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos about this issue.
Amazon Watch has also called out big companies, such as JPMorgan Chase and BlackRock, for funding the destruction of The Amazon Rainforest and violating indigenous rights. The organization’s petition demands that the CEOs stop financing oil and gas producers in the Amazon. The petition states, “Oil and gas operations that you invest in are actively violating indigenous rights and worsening our climate crisis. Stop financing Amazon destruction!” Over 12,000 people have signed it thus far.
Encouraging People to Act
Amazon Watch is protecting the indigenous lands of the Amazon by educating others on how to take action for the Earth and for the indigenous people. Their website provides information on how to take action to help protect the Amazon through email and/or social media.
The organization is also asking others to stand in solidarity with Brazil’s indigenous rights agency. Indigenous people in Brazil are suffering under the country’s agribusiness industry. The National Indigenous Foundation (FUNAI) is a key target of the Brazilian government, which has undermined its critical role in protecting indigenous territories and severely cut its budget.
In 2017, Amazon Watch began working with Brazilian allies and international communities in order to fight environmental and human rights threats from Brazil’s “ruralista government leaders. Amazon Watch started a petition to reject President Temer and the Attorney General’s attacks on the rights and advocates of the Amazon’s indigenous people. Over 16,000 people have signed the petition so far.
Amazon Watch is protecting the indigenous lands of the Amazon by encouraging the public to get involved with their events. Every year in San Francisco, Amazon Watch holds its annual gala called “Amplify! A Celebration of Voices from the Amazon”. The special guests this year will be Achuar leaders from the Peruvian Amazon.
The government leaders in Brazil must start doing their part to protect the Amazon as well as the indigenous population within. By partnering with indigenous and environmental organizations, Amazon Watch is protecting the indigenous lands of the Amazon while campaigning for human rights and preservation of the Amazon’s ecosystem before it is too late. Hopefully, their work, plus the voices of those signing petitions to strengthen protections and rights, will also inspire the government to take action.
– Ariane Komyati