Assembly of the Peoples of the Earth for the Amazon: movements launch collective letter with demands for heads of state

The document calls for concrete actions for the recovery of the Amazon biome and land titling for Indigenous and quilombola communities

August 08, 2023 by Brasil de Fato
The reading of the letter took place during the Assembly of the Peoples of the Earth for the Amazon, which brought together Indigenous peoples, landless people, traditional communities and people from the countryside and the city - Hannah Letícia

Peoples movements from the pan-Amazon countries drafted a collective letter with a series of demands in defense of the biome and delivered it to the heads of state meeting at the Amazon Summit on August 8. The movements have been meeting in a parallel summit in Belém since August 4 and the activity will end on August 9.

In addition to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, the presidents of Bolivia, Colombia, Guyana, as well as the Venezuelan vice president and the de facto leader of Peru are gathering in the city of Belém. Ecuador and Suriname sent representatives.

The meeting will result in the Belém Declaration, a joint document that will stipulate socio-environmental commitments for the member states of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), in addition to establishing measures for the institutional strengthening of ACTO. The document is expected to be released on August 8. 

Another point that should be included in the final declaration is the institutionalization of the Amazon Parliament, which has been meeting since 2020.

The international agreement will not touch on topics such as, the exploitation of fossil fuels, which cause global warming, and the demarcation of Indigenous lands, topics that divide OCTA (Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization) member countries.

The Amazon Summit concludes on Wednesday, when the heads of state meet representatives from developing countries with tropical forests in other regions of the world. Among them are the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Indonesia, as well as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Caribbean country that chairs the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

At the meetings, Itamaraty (Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs) intends to explore convergences and begin to build positions that could be the subject of multilateral agreements, such as COP-28.

The reading of the letter took place during the Assembly of the Peoples of the Earth for the Amazon, an activity that is part of the Amazon Dialogues meeting and brings together Indigenous peoples, landless people, traditional communities, and people from the countryside and the city. 

Among the 29 demands are the taking of all necessary measures to avoid the point of no return—the moment when the biome cannot be recovered—and the giving titles to all Indigenous and quilombola lands in the territory. 

The Assembly was also attended by political and social representatives such as Joenia Wapichana (of FUNAI-National Indigenous Peoples Foundation), Eloy Terena (of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples), mayor of Belém Edmilson Rodrigues, and Federal Deputy Célia Xakriabá. 

Representing the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, Eloy Terena highlighted the attack on the Tembé peoples that occurred on August 4 and the importance of strengthening resistance. 

“It was no use just electing President Lula, because we have an extremely conservative congress, so daily these forces are acting to weaken the actions of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples and our demands, so we need to strengthen our resistance,” Terena explained.

The Dialogues for the Amazon continue until the afternoon of August 8, with the realization of a great march of the peoples towards COP-30 to deliver the letter.

Read the full letter:

Peoples of the Earth for the Amazon

Nothing about us without us!

We are the peoples of the Amazon, the largest tropical forest in the world, which regulates the planet’s climate. We live in the rivers, the forests, the fields and the cities. We suffer from the devastation, the siege, the poisoning and the destruction of our territory. We know that the attacks against the Amazon are attacks against the planet and the peoples of the world. Therefore, gathered in assembly in the city of Belém, we demand that our governments proclaim a state of climate emergency in our region and also adopt the following measures:

  1. Take all necessary measures to avoid the point of no return for the Amazon, protecting 80 percent of its territory by 2025, through a plan that guarantees a) The cessation of all illegal deforestation by 2025, b) The achievement of zero legal deforestation by 2027, c) The repeal of laws and provisions that promote the destruction of the Amazon, and d) The rehabilitation, recovery and restoration of deforested and degraded areas.
  2. Titling 100% of the territorial claims of Indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, quilombolas and traditional communities, ensuring the overall security (legal and physical) of collective ownership of Indigenous territories, the respect and territorial protection of isolated Indigenous peoples and the guarantee of a gender perspective in the distribution and titling of lands.
  3. Considering that the environmental and social costs of oil research and exploration in the Amazon are greater than the economic benefits generated, it is essential to accelerate the energy transition, stop promoting new research and exploration in the Amazon and promote a just, popular and inclusive energy transition plan, with reparation for the affected peoples and territories.
  4. Express our full support for the YES vote in Ecuador’s referendum to leave the oil in the Yasuní megadiverse zone underground. With this we send a message to the world from the Amazon to tackle climate change and extractivism and defend life. We also support the demands of organizations in Brazil and Guyana, which have won victories against the expansion of hydrocarbons on their coasts.
  5. Demand that the governments of the countries that have historically contributed the most to climate change fulfill their commitment, made more than a decade ago, to provide 100 billion dollars a year to developing countries for the energy transition, which we advocate to be a socio-ecological transition.
  6. Demand that the nine governments of the Amazonian countries fulfill their outstanding climate commitments and substantially increase their Nationally Determined Contributions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the targets set out in this document for the elimination of deforestation and the exit from oil exploration.
  7. Ensure the effective participation of the peoples of the Amazon, throughout the energy production chain, as part of the planning, management and governance processes, for the construction of a just, popular and inclusive energy transition.
  8. Halt the expansion of the agricultural frontier by: a) Sanctioning those responsible for the displacement and expropriation of land in the Amazon, b) Strengthening alternatives for an agro-ecological transition, agro-forestry production and community ecotourism, c) Ensuring that Amazonian products to be exported or consumed nationally and internationally do not contribute to deforestation, degradation and pollution.
  9. Amazonian cities must be built in harmony with nature and provide a dignified life for their inhabitants. For this reason, they need to be democratically planned, guaranteeing their inhabitants a healthy, safe environment, with public regulation of the soil, adequate housing, right to water and basic sanitation, mobility, food security, climate and environmental justice.
  10. Promote a transition plan to save the Amazon from mining and mercury pollution that (a) Annually reduces mercury use and illegal mining until its total elimination; (b) Prohibits mining activities in protected areas, and Indigenous, ancestral and community territories; (c) Conducts comprehensive medium-term environmental impact assessments of legal mining activities, to strengthen socio-environmental mitigation plans and establish the terms of their continuation and future closure; and (d) Implements effective measures for the remediation of people’s health and the restoration of ecosystems affected by mercury and mining.
  11. Ensure consultation for the free, prior, informed and good faith consent of Amazonian peoples, in accordance with international agreements, such as ILO Convention 169, for projects and production chains with a significant impact on the Amazon.
  12. Ensure comprehensive and cumulative environmental impact assessments, carried out by independent entities in the Amazon, for all activities that seriously affect the region.
  13. Prohibit the construction of hydroelectric dams and the construction of any infrastructure project that disrespects the rights of peoples and nature.
  14. Respect the forms of self-identification, self-organization and self-determination of Indigenous peoples and nations, guaranteeing Indigenous autonomy and self-government through the implementation of norms that ensure the rights of Indigenous and Amazonian peoples.
  15. Guarantee and defend the bodies and territories and autonomy of women and demand the right to a dignified life for Indigenous, black, Quilombola, Andean and peasant women and women of diversity, respecting their culture and ancestral identity, in the face of the offensive of neoliberal and patriarchal extractivism. Eradicate all discrimination against women in public establishments and punish all types of violence, sexual violence, femicide, violation of sexual and reproductive rights that impact the lives and bodies of women, girls, their cultures and their worldviews.
  16. Combat hunger and inequality in the Amazon, promote popular agrarian reform and effectively ensure the rights to health and adequate food, as well as Indigenous, community, social and solidarity-based economic alternatives in Amazonian territories, strengthening the processes of ecological transition and food sovereignty, with emergency actions in areas already impacted by large enterprises and illegal activities.
  17. Ensure for all people access to an education that guides the defense of the rights of peoples in their territories and of nature, strengthening bilingual and intercultural education.
  18. Ensure effective protection mechanisms for defenders of the Amazon, in accordance with international agreements and national legislation.
  19. Guarantee the intellectual property rights of Indigenous and traditional peoples through the fight against biopiracy and the appropriation of our knowledge and practices.
  20. Rid the Amazon of the scourge of drug trafficking by dismantling its laboratories and commercial and financial operations and arresting the cartels’ leaders.
  21. Promote a management of aquatic systems in the Amazon that includes: a) the creation of protected aquatic areas to conserve the health of the Amazon basin; b) the effective protection of wetlands in the Amazon; c) the prohibition of the use of internationally condemned agrochemicals; d) and the recognition of the Rights of Nature.
  22. That governments of the global North and public and private funding bodies stop subsidizing, lending to and investing in developments that destroy the Amazon and direct those resources to the well-being of Indigenous peoples and nature.
  23. Classify and incorporate the crime of ecocide into the legislation of Amazonian countries and effectively punish all environmental crimes. Demand that corporations and companies responsible for environmental disasters be prosecuted in their home countries and required to repair the damage to nature and Amazonian peoples.
  24. Promote financing for the Amazon and ensure that all debt conversions for climate action and/or nature conservation are: a) Integral, transparent, direct and with the participation of the Amazonian peoples, self-determined, self-organized and self-managed; b) That in the current financing mechanisms participation, control and social supervision are guaranteed, to avoid abuses, waste and corruption; and c) That nature is not commodified.
  25. Establish a tax on the carbon emitted by large polluting industries and agribusinesses, in order to allocate these resources to save the Amazon.
  26. Typify and incorporate the crime of ecocide into the legislation of Amazonian countries and effectively punish all environmental crimes.
  27. Recognize the Amazon as a subject of rights and guarantee its right to exist, to live free of pollution, to preserve its life cycles, to regenerate and to restore its life systems in a timely and effective manner.
  28. Promote the creation of an OTCA-SOCIAL so that there is effective participation of Amazonian peoples in the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (OCTA) and also to ensure that strategies, plans and commitments lead to the effective fulfillment of the above points.
  29. Express our solidarity with the struggles of the peoples of Peru for their rights and against all kinds of authoritarianism and violence.

We are ready to defend life in the Amazon and on the planet. This is our path and our commitment.

This article was adapted and translated from two articles originally published on Brasil de Fato.