Empowering Indigenous Voices at Amazon Summit

The Minister of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, Sonia Guajajara, on Monday described the summit of Amazonian countries in Belem as a “historic moment” for indigenous people, who hope to have a voice in claiming their right to land in particular.

“We, the indigenous peoples, are not only thinking of the next four years (duration of a presidential term in Brazil), but of the next forty,” the minister, herself an indigenous person, told AFP.

“The jungle is not an oil well or a gold mine. It’s our temple,” Nemo Guiquita, head of an organization that represents more than 1,500 indigenous communities in Ecuador, also told AFP.

“I hope that the fruit of our discussions will be included in the final declaration (of the summit), because if the decisions are taken only at the level of the States, all our work will have been in vain”, she warns.

COP30 in 2025

Nemo Guiquita and other indigenous leaders from several countries participated this weekend in Belem (north) in a conference called Amazonian Dialogues, which aimed to discuss solutions to the climate crisis.

More than 24,000 people took part in the meeting, twice as many as expected, according to Ms. Guajajara.

The summit of Amazonian countries will bring together representatives of fifteen countries on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Brazilian city of Belem was not chosen by chance: located at the gates of the Brazilian Amazon, it will host the UN COP30 climate conference in 2025.

One of the main challenges of the summit will be to secure a common commitment to an end to illegal deforestation of the Amazon, which the government of leftist Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has promised to eradicate by 2030.

“We hope at least that countries will commit to recognizing indigenous territories,” said Toya Manchineri of the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coiab) this weekend.

Eleven reservations

In Brazil, “only eleven reserves had been approved in ten years”, before Lula’s return to power in January, recalls Sonia Guajajara.

The demarcation process was completely at a standstill under the previous government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022).

But six new reserves were approved in April, “and others could be by the end of the week”, underlines the minister.

“Our fight is not only for indigenous peoples, but for the whole world, so that future generations can survive on our planet”, concludes Nemo Guiquita.

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