6:35 Now Playing
Amazon Alive for Humanity
Having lived for millennia in the forests of the ‘Amazonian Trapezoid’, today the Amacayacu National Park, indigenous communities there are now treated as an obstacle to conservation. Their rights have been systematically violated since the National Park was created in 1975.
In April 2015 the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism signed an agreement to carry out the construction of a tourist trail, but without previous consultation of local communities. This infrastructure project would include the construction of extensive walking routes and amenities along an 8km route through pristine forest, communities and rivers.
The Tikuna, Yaguas and Cocamas who live in San Martín de Amacayacu have denounced the violation of their right to free, prior and informed consent. As such they have urged the Colombian government to stop the construction activities and carry out the consultation process.
8:42 Now Playing
Oil On Their Hands
Update: April 2021
The Dutch National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines announced on April 20, 2021 that they would accept a complaint against Pluspetrol, a multinational oil firm headquartered in an Amsterdam mailbox. The decision gives Indigenous communities in the oil fields of the Peruvian Amazon a path for seeking remediation from Pluspetrol for the tainted soil and waterways that have harmed the communities’ health and way of life.
For almost half a century, Quechua, Achuar, and Kichwa communities in Northern Peruvian have suffered extreme negative environmental, health, cultural, social, and economic impacts as a result of the operations of the oil companies, Occidental Petroleum (1971-2000) and subsequently Pluspetrol (2000-2015).
Their pipelines in the Peruvian Amazon have collapsed and degraded, leaking oil and heavy metals into the land. There are more than 1,963 contamination sites. Communities are now not only fighting to protect the earth but also their health as hundreds are sick from contaminated water and food.
In 2020, indigenous leaders take their complaint to the Netherlands, where PlusPetrol transferred its headquarters in 2000. Research into its corporate structure suggests it did so to support its broader effort to avoid paying taxes in the countries where it operates.
Pluspetrol has failed to undertake adequate environmental and human rights due diligence. The complaint presented to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in March 2020 alleges that Pluspetrol has also failed to respect several human and indigenous rights of the local population related to land, self-determination, and water and food. “We have come to the Netherlands seeking justice,” said Aurelio Chino, president of FEDIQUEP, “We hope that the OECD and the Dutch government can convince Pluspetrol to take responsibility for the terrible harm the oil industry has done to our peoples.”
This is their story.
6:58 Now Playing
Dayaks and Drones
Even a well-managed, recognised forest faces constant challenges but innovative drone GPS technology, cooperative campaigning, local government support and eco-tourism are helping the Setulang people thrive. They have shown that community rights, the environment and development go hand in hand.
Setulang boasts clean water, sustainable fishing and hunting, building materials, fruit and traditional medicine, a ‘life bank’ for future generations. But by being in a heavily forested area they still face the growing threat of timber, oil palm and mining companies. The head of the village is looking to find new and innovative solutions to protect his land and a team of experts from West Kalimantan may have the answer. GPS based drones are being used for the first time to map community land and the results have been impressive.
6:48 Now Playing
Ramón López and other locals from Cruz de Ocote ejido, in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Mexico, take care, cultivate and manage its forests under the scheme known as Community Forestry Management. It ensures economic benefits for local families as well as biodiversity conservation. However, they struggle daily against illegal logging and require the support of a law that protects them.
In Mexico, many forests are managed under this social enterprise approach in which the heirs of the ancestral knowledge of the environment, generate profits from this activity. Community Forest Management is emerging as a promising model for the development of the Mexican countryside, and as an example to the world.
In 2017, a new forest law disadvantageous for the communities is in process to be approved in the Mexican congress without being consulted. Follow the story using #ConsultaLeyForestal
8:57 Now Playing
Burning the Bananal
Wildfires are increasing in their frequency and ferocity worldwide – they consume forests and destroy lives. Is there a more effective way to fight them?
Fighting fire with fire
Traditional fire management practices hold many answers. Controlled fires, which were widely banned by colonialist authorities, had long been used by indigenous peoples to maintain their land and forests and to protect their peoples from large-scale wildfires.
In recent years, the Brazilian Environment Ministry has been working in partnership with indigenous communities. They have been learning from elders about fire management, employing indigenous firefighters and investing in the application of these practices on a vast scale. This approach has evolved into the Integrated Fire Management strategy, using prescribed burns at particular times of year so as to prevent large-scale destruction when the hot and dry wildfire season arrives. Traditional knowledge is the basis for all the work of prescribed burns in indigenous territories and is already being carried out in 7 Brazilian states (Mato Grosso, Roraima, Mato Grosso do Sul, Goias, Maranhao, Tocantins, Amazonas) throughout roughly 11 million hectares of indigenous territories.
See it in practice in this short film Burning the Bananal.
Societies across the world will struggle to deal with the increasing impacts of climate change – at this crucial juncture in our humanity we need to listen, learn, respect and support indigenous traditional knowledge.
8:57 Now Playing
Indigenous Harakmbut leaders lead journey to rediscover ancient sacred site to connect with their cultural past and protect their future.
6:06 Now Playing
Reclaiming and strengthening indigenous culture is vital to maintaining ancestral connections to nature. This must be passed onto future generations by celebrating indigenous traditions. Embera youth are spearheading a cultural revival, after decades of assimilation, through traditional body painting and storytelling. Meanwhile sustainable community forestry initiatives are creating low impact income for communities that rely on healthy forests for their survival.
Playlist - Fixing The Future
A series of short films from If Not Us Then Who? originally curated for Atlas of The Future event last year, these stories explore the reality for indigenous peoples and local communities as well as the solutions that lie with the very same peoples.
Curated around the theme; we first explore the problems indigenous peoples often face; violation of land rights and often human rights with powerful personal testimonies from Tikuna, Yaguas and Cocamas peoples of Colombia and Quechua, Achuar, and Kichwa peoples of Peru. But they are not victims; being on the front line, indigenous peoples and local communities offer many solutions. We hear inspiring stories of solutions from Mexico, Indonesia and Brazil. Much of what we can learn from indigenous peoples lies in their ancestral knowledge, we learn from the Harakmbut peoples of Peru before the Embera people of Panama explore the link between erosion of culture and forests and ultimately identity.