The UN Climate Conference (COP23) is the perfect place for voices to be heard. Thus, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has dedicated a special day to indigenous peoples for years. In the case of the Bonn Conference, this moment took place on November 7, so that its representatives could share their history and demands.
Addressing the theme "Protection and Promotion of Indigenous Territories and Knowledge", the Federacíon de Comunidades Nativas del Ucayali y Afluentes (FECONAU) promoted a panel with the purpose of showing the reality experienced by the indigenous peoples of Peru.
The Peruvian Robert Guimaraes (president of FECONAU) and the Brazilian Benki Piyako Ashaninka (indigenous leader Ashanika) were responsible for reporting part of the day-to-day experience of their peoples. Benki mentioned the ancient knowledge of indigenous peoples, stressed the need for respect for diversity and emphasized the importance of educating the young generation for the future of forests.
In addition, Benki emphasized that "the indigenous peoples are trying to promote a reflection on their rights and denouncing the situation of violence that they are suffering".He adds that "there was a decrease in the amount of fish and extinction of species of plants and animals as a direct consequence of the deforestation of the Amazon forest." According to Benki, "if climate change is due to our actions and we know how to fight them, we do not have to think about it, but to act."
Robert, on the other hand, broadened the debate by saying that the struggle of indigenous peoples is framed in a global setting, that is, many resources that the industrialized countries need lies in the forest. According to the president of FECONAU, indigenous knowledge regarding rivers, plants and animals is part of the tradition. "We seek to transmit to the new generations this knowledge, which can not be passed in five years of university but through many years of practice."
In any case "these practices and our own lives are being threatened mainly by oil contamination, installation of hydroelectric plants and by the agribusiness in Peru", denounces the Peruvian activist.
For Robert, the government does not want to discuss the environmental impacts these activities cause on the environment and among indigenous peoples, covering up the true deforestation.
FECONAU fights against this reality. The organization has planted more than one million trees and plans to plant more than 9 million by 2040. "There is no justice for indigenous people but we struggle to change this situation and guarantee a decent future for the next generations" concludes Robert.
By Amanda Cruz Costa
Translation: Fernanda Favaro