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Indigenous leaders propose alternative approaches to forests and climate change, and discuss Rio+20

Indigenous leaders gathered in Manaus in mid-August for a conference organized by COICA (Confederation of the Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations of the Amazon Basin) to discuss traditional knowledge, forests and climate change, as well as the Rio+20 conference. Their final statement called for the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to their territories, respect for the principle of the ‘full life’[1] (‘vida plena’) and support for Indigenous approaches to climate mitigation in forests, (referred to in the statement as “Indigenous REDD+”). Communities were also advised to be alert to the bad practices of “carbon cowboys” and avoid entering into any contracts until international obligations on rights are fully implemented.

Manaus Declaration “Indigenous Peoples in Route to the Rio + 20 Conference"

We, representatives of indigenous peoples’ communities, organizations and networks from Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, Africa and North America, came together to unite on how we can engage effectively with the preparatory processes and the conference proper of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development or Rio Plus 20. We thank the Ford Foundation, Fondo Indigena and UN WOMEN for providing the resources to allow for this meeting to happen. We also thank COICA, the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Inter-tribal Committee and COIAB, for co-organizing this event.

We recalled our active participation in the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 and the parallel processes we organized which resulted into the Kari-oca Indigenous Peoples’ Declaration. The UNCED documents which included the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 recognized the vital role of indigenous peoples in sustainable development and identified them as one of the 9 Major Groups.