Awasqa: You participated in COP26. Tell us a little about your experience as a member of the organizations
Andrés Tapia: We participated as part of COICA (Coordinadora de las Organizaciones Indígenas de la Cuenca Amazónica) as part of the nine countries that represent the Amazon basin, that is, we were able to participate in COP26 as a regional organization. It was a meaningful participation because there was an organic articulation among those who were there representing nine countries, together with the COICA leadership, which was a previously planned coordinated action that allowed for joint action in written documents. It generated a lot of interest from States who announced funds for conservation and for indigenous peoples.
Awasqa: What was the profile of your participation in COP26?
Andrés Tapia: We were not part of the State negotiations. We had an advocacy agenda through parallel events where we made declarations, our position clear, and demanded for those agreed commitments to be fulfilled. We need to exert a lot more pressure on many issues. We need to evaluate COP 26 in more detail because there were many announcements and promises made but no guarantees of a fast-track compliance on environmental commitments. We believe an evaluation is still needed.
Many have said that there are no favorable results, especially in the commitments to reduce carbon emissions. But I think that we need to make a deeper evaluation. Our participation was a positive one, but we refuse to put our hands in the fire for the States, as we have seen promises made down the years that have not been fulfilled.
We were part of the different actions that took place [at the COP26]. For example, the climate march on November 6 was massive and included about 100,000 people. Additionally, there were a series of advocacy actions, protests, and press conferences. The most important thing for us was the interaction between indigenous and social organizations. There was a robust participation of indigenous organizations from various continents, the involvement of civil society from Europe and other parts of the world. I think that was the highlight of the event. We managed to develop a joint advocacy agenda, which is already a significant step forward.
The greatest commitment was how we achieved that joint interaction, which goes beyond the present day or COP26 around climate justice. It was thanks to the indigenous organizations’ strong stand that we saw those announcements from the States; we’ll see if they comply. There is also an implicit recognition now that indigenous communities are contributing to a planetary equilibrium and are helping to stop climate change. I believe that there is an implicit recognition of the role that indigenous organizations play.
Awasqa: There is a systematic effort by the nation-States to break the system of checks and balances created by civil society through environmental protection organizations, indigenous communities, peoples, and nationalities. In this offensive, there is an obstruction of financing to organizations, attacks, and non-compliance of international commitments.
Andrés Tapia: We know closely what is happening in our countries. In the case of Latin America, the organizations have been very emphatic in denouncing the double discourse of the States. For example, the Ecuadorian State took advantage of the space to clean its image or greenwash its image. But we know that beyond what they advertise, many things are not consistent with reality.
For example, Ecuador’s government announced the creation of a marine reserve in the Galapagos Islands, which, of course, is important. But we denounced at the COP26 how that same government is promoting the expansion of extractivist projects through two executive decrees, 95 and 151, to expand fossil fuel exploration. We are talking about a double standard: trying to show an environmentally friendly image through the creation of a marine reserve, while seeking to strengthen extractivism with executive orders to expand oil and mining exploration. Of course, those will prevent the climate objectives from being met, on the contrary, they will exacerbate deforestation and carbon emissions. Our permanent role includes the oversight of government announcements and agendas.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO SUPPORT INITIATIVES BEYOND COP26:
- See COICA’s “Amazon for Life” initiative
- See Cuencas Sagradas and the 2030 Bioregional Plan
- See Alianza Global de Comunidades Territoriales
- CONFENIAE and Lanceros Digitales
Indigenous peoples urge governments at COP26 to take urgent action to protect the Amazon as an emergency measure in the face of the climate crisis.
At the start of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26), indigenous leaders raised their voices to inform the world that the Amazon has reached the point of no return. They warn that the current frameworks for mitigating climate change have been insufficient to stop the destruction of the largest tropical forest on the planet. Faced with this scenario, they propose actions to protect the basin and the peoples that inhabit it as an urgent measure in the face of the planetary climate crisis.
Several investigations (RAISG 2020, FAO-FILAC 2021, WWF 2021, IUCN 2021, among others) recognize the fundamental role of indigenous peoples in nature conservation. Therefore, the guarantee of their rights represents a vital strategy to stop the environmental damages that promote climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the risk of new pandemics. Indigenous peoples and their knowledge, which keeps the Amazon alive, must be integrated into the plans of the States to activate strategies against the climate crisis. A planet without the Amazon is unfeasible.
Research carried out by the coalition of the initiative “Amazon for life: Let’s protect 80% by 2025″ led by COICA establishes that 72% of the Amazon still contains sites with a very high ecological functionality and representation. These areas nest 203 million hectares of primordial forest. The immediate protection of these areas is necessary while restoring at least 8% of the Amazon to create connectivity in the 72% mentioned above.
Already in the territory, the integrity of ecosystems depends on joint and comprehensive actions. Fany Kuiru, coordinator of Women and Family of the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon – OPIAC, expressed that “it is essential to recognize the fundamental contribution of native women in the management, restoration, reforestation and care of the territories, to maintain standing forests and keeping the Amazon ecosystem stable. We, women, are supporting our organizations to preserve our ancestral knowledge and knowledge with the new generations, guaranteeing our biocultural survival and that of the entire Amazon.”
We need governments, companies, and civil society to commit to caring for the jungle. Furthermore, in this COP 26, the solutions must consider indigenous peoples because we are the ones who have cared for the territories. Without indigenous peoples, the Paris Agreement nor the Development Goals will be achieved. It is impossible to make decisions without consulting those of us whose territories have been violated through destruction. The leaders gathered at this COP cannot boast success by leaving indigenous peoples out. It would be unacceptable and a failure for humanity,” added Mirabal.
From November 1 to 12, the leaders of the Confeniae Governing Council as well as delegates from various organizations of the Amazon region will participate in this world conference to influence and position the challenges and central debates of the agenda for a social, climate, and environmental justice, since we need a real and concrete commitment of the States member to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in the next 8 years in order to reduce global warming by 1.5 degrees, according to the latest figures and these two worldwide. We, the indigenous peoples, have already been fulfilling this environmental commitment, and it is an imminent task for governments to take this climate goal seriously and responsibly before the precise point of no return in which we find ourselves.