Image courtesy of SOS Yasuni
Indigenous people in Ecuador and the rest of the world have been taking a strong stance against the damaging practices that have led to climate change and the destruction of their land and way of life. At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, or Rio+20, many indigenous peoples spoke up for the preservation of the environment.
Taking a Stand
The Ecuarunari, the largest indigenous group in Ecuador, see climate change as urgent and only addressable by social movements. One of the leaders of the Ecuarunari, Delfin Tenesaca, stated the indigenous see that Pachamama is sick, so we need to embrace Sumak Kawsay, or the good life, to re-instill balance.
Chief Raoni, leader of the Kayapo peoples of the Brazilian Amazon, advocated against the building of the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River, located on his territory. The Kayapo peoples have continued to occupy the dam site to prevent its construction and have formed several human signs protesting it. Last week 1,500 indigenous people in Brazil formed a huge human banner representing the importance of free flowing rivers.
Even children are aware that climate change is human-kind’s fault and can be changed for the better! 11-year old indigenous girl Ta’Kaiya called for “Earth Revolution” at Rio+20, chanting that exploitative corporations would need to return the land back to its rightful owners, the indigenous peoples.
Global Warming is Undeniable
In Ayaloma, Ecuador a small agricultural community, frosts aren’t coming on time and rains have become more intense. Traditionally the Ayalomans plant during the full moon to ensure a full harvest, yet the changes in weather patterns have cut their harvests short. They have seen smaller harvests and erosion from the harsh rains. Consequentially, they have had to change their diets to include less fresh produce and begin shopping at the market for their foods instead of making it themselves. Yet they are not the only ones this has happened to.
Ana Loja, a professor at the University of Cuenca points out that “in Ecuador, we’ve experienced a sudden change in our climate…I think everyone is aware it’s a real problem.” The Inter-American Development Bank has predicts that by 2050 the world’s temperature will rise by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit and would cost Latin American and the Caribbean alone around $100 billion per year. Yet the region only contributes 11 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Rights of Nature, which grants Mother Earth the right to exist free of cruel treatment and to maintain her life cycles, is an important way to protect the environment from a dire future and broken planet.
A Better Alternative
Ecuador, despite the fact that Rights of Nature is a part of their constitution, is still dependent on their oil reserves. In 2006, oil made up 60 percent of Ecuador’s exports, whose revenues comprised of more than half of its national budget. Yet Environment Minister Maria Fernanda Espinoza states that Ecuador wants to break the dependence and move to renewable energy to help stave off climate change.
One plan to do that, proposed in 2007 by President Rafael Correa, will keep 20 percent of the country’s oil in the ground if wealthy countries will give them half of its value ($3.6 billion). The money would fund conservation of the Yasuni National Park, as well as health and education, and is known as the Yasuni Project. The Yasuni National Park is the most bio-diverse place in the Amazon and is a United Nations Biosphere Preserve.
At The Pachamama Alliance, we too believe that the oil should stay in the ground, especially when it is surrounded by precious natural resources. We are working with the Achuar people of the Ecuadorian Amazon to protect their pristine land and fight off oil development, in the face of a rising demand for oil. Stand with us and the indigenous people in the fight for Mother Nature and make a commitment to reallocate a portion of your resources either as a one-time donor or as a Global Citizen monthly donor.