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IUCN update: A modest proposal

Campaigners from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are backing indigenous people and local communities to protect the Amazon rainforest.

Huracayo village, Peru

The Coordinating Body for Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), an IUCN member, proposed a motion to protect 80% of the Amazon by 2025 in response to the latest IUCN update. Rainforest plays a vital role in regulating our climate through absorbing and storing carbon, so we’re on board.

Votes for the proposed global agreement received overwhelming support, uniting conservationists and indigenous people in the effort to protect the world’s largest rainforest.

José Gregorio Diaz Mirabal General Coordinator of Coica, who submitted the proposal described it as “a plan for the salvation of indigenous peoples and the planet”.

No time like the present.

Deforestation in the Amazon rose 17% in 2020 compared with the previous year. Some of the world’s largest rainforests are even now emitting more carbon than they absorb due to a complex combination of deforestation and forest fires, and pressures caused by illegal logging, commercial farming and extraction.

The IUCN update. Three reasons to act now.

  • Fires in the Amazon in 2019 and 2020 alone burned at least 3 million hectares of forest, causing serious damage to the integrity of ecosystems.
  • Deforestation in 2020 saw 2.3 million hectares of primary forest loss across nine countries in the Amazon Basin.
  • If we lose 25% of the existing Amazon rainforest to deforestation and degradation it simply will not recover.
    IUCN, 2021

It is more important than ever to back people living in rainforest. They are its greatest custodians.

Shaping the future of forest protection.

Coica stated that Amazon countries must enable indigenous peoples and local communities to govern protected areas that overlap with their territories, calling for a ban of industrial activities in primary forests. and insisted that more funding be mobilised to restore ecosystems in the Amazon:

“The call we will make is that finance should go to the indigenous people who conserve and protect the territory.”

The IUCN congress, what does it mean for nature?

It means a lot.

The IUCN Congress is billed as the world’s largest conservation event, taking place every four years with over 10,000 participants taking part.

The World Summit of Indigenous Peoples and Nature (IP Summit) took place at the IUCN Congress, providing an opportunity for indigenous leaders to voice and advance their priorities and proposals for nature and people.

This summit highlights and shares learnings about the contributions of indigenous peoples to sustaining rainforest, wildlife and combating climate change – something that Cool Earth has championed from day one. We’re hopeful the conservation sector is catching up.

The sun rises over misty Amazonian forest.

Further reading:

  1. Amazonia as a carbon source linked to deforestation and climate change, Nature
  2. Conservationists back indigenous peoples’ call to protect 80% of the Amazon by 2025, Climate Home News
  3. Tribes launch bid to protect Amazon forest at global conservation forum, Reuters