Indigenous Peoples Global Conference on Rio+20 and Mother Earth
Statement adopted by over five hundred Indigenous Peoples from Brazil and around the world, at a meeting held this week in a poor neighborhood near the site of the UN-sponsored Rio+20 meeting.
We, the Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth assembled at the site of Kari-Oka I, sacred Kari-Oka Púku, Rio de Janeiro to participate in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20, thank the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil for welcoming us to their territories.
We reaffirm our responsibility to speak for the protection and enhancement of the well-being of Mother Earth, nature and future generations of our Indigenous Peoples and all humanity and life.
We recognize the significance of this second convening of Indigenous Peoples of the world and reaffirm the historic 1992 meeting of the Kari-Oca I, where Indigenous Peoples issued The Kari-Oca Declaration and the Indigenous Peoples Earth Charter.
The Kari-Oca conference, and the mobilization of Indigenous Peoples around the first UN Earth Summit, marked a big step forward for an international movement for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and the important role that Indigenous Peoples play in conservation and sustainable development. We also reaffirm the Manaus Declaration on the convening of Kari-Oca 2 as the international gathering of Indigenous Peoples for Rio+20.
The institutionalization of Colonialism
We see the goals of UNCSD Rio+20, the “Green Economy” and its premise that the world can only “save” nature by commodifying its life giving and life sustaining capacities as a continuation of the colonialism that Indigenous Peoples and our Mother Earth have faced and resisted for 520 years. The “Green Economy” promises to eradicate poverty but in fact will only favor and respond to multinational enterprises and capitalism. It is a continuation of a global economy based upon fossil fuels, the destruction of the environment by exploiting nature through extractive industries such as mining, oil exploration and production, intensive mono-culture agriculture, and other capitalist investments. All of these efforts are directed toward profit and the accumulation of capital by the few.
Since Rio 1992, we as Indigenous Peoples see that colonization has become the very basis of the globalization of trade and the dominant capitalist global economy. The exploitation and plunder of the world’s ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as the violations of the inherent rights of Indigenous Peoples that depend on them, have intensified. Our rights to self determination, to our own governance and own self-determined development, our inherent rights to our lands, territories and resources are increasingly and alarmingly under attack by the collaboration of governments and transnational corporations. Indigenous activists and leaders defending their territories continue to suffer repression, militarization, including assassination, imprisonment, harassment and vilification as “terrorists.” The violation of our collective rights faces the same impunity. Forced relocation or assimilation assault our future generations, cultures, languages, spiritual ways and relationship to the earth, economically and politically.
We, Indigenous Peoples from all regions of the world have defended our Mother Earth from the aggression of unsustainable development and the over exploitation of our natural resources by mining, logging, mega-dams, exploration and extraction of petroleum. Our forests suffer from the production of agro-fuels, bio-mass, plantations and other impositions of false solutions to climate change and unsustainable, damaging development.
The Green Economy is nothing more than capitalism of nature; a perverse attempt by corporations, extractive industries and governments to cash in on Creation by privatizing, commodifying, and selling off the Sacred and all forms of life and the sky, including the air we breathe, the water we drink and all the genes, plants, traditional seeds, trees, animals, fish, biological and cultural diversity, ecosystems and traditional knowledge that make life on Earth possible and enjoyable.
Gross violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to food sovereignty continue unabated thus resulting to food “insecurity”. Our own food production, the plants that we gather, the animals that we hunt, our fields and harvests, the water that we drink and water our fields, the fish that we catch from our rivers and streams, is diminishing at an alarming rate. Unsustainable development projects, such as mono-cultural chemically intensive soya plantations, extractive industries such as mining and other environmentally destructive projects and investments for profit are destroying our biodiversity, poisoning our water, our rivers, streams, and the earth and its ability to maintain life. This is further aggravated by Climate change and hydroelectric dams and other energy production that affect entire ecosystems and their ability to provide for life.
Food sovereignty is one fundamental expression of our collective right to self-determination and sustainable development. Food sovereignty and the right to food must be observed and respected; food must not be a commodity to be used, traded and speculated on for profit. It nourishes our identities, our cultures and languages, and our ability to survive as Indigenous Peoples.
Mother Earth is the source of life which needs to be protected, not a resource to be exploited and commodified as a ‘natural capital.’ We have our place and our responsibilities within Creation’s sacred order. We feel the sustaining joy as things occur in harmony with the Earth and with all life that it creates and sustains. We feel the pain of disharmony when we witness the dishonor of the natural order of Creation and the continued economic colonization and degradation of Mother Earth and all life upon her. Until Indigenous Peoples rights are observed and respected, sustainable development and the eradication of poverty will not be achieved.
This inseparable relationship between humans and the Earth, inherent to Indigenous, Peoples must be respected for the sake of our future generations and all of humanity. We urge all humanity to join with us in transforming the social structures, institutions and power relations that underpin our deprivation, oppression and exploitation. Imperialist globalization exploits all that sustains life and damages the Earth. We need to fundamentally reorient production and consumption based on human needs rather than for the boundless accumulation of profit for a few. Society must take collective control of productive resources to meet the needs of sustainable social development and avoid overproduction, over consumption and over exploitation of people and nature which are inevitable under the prevailing monopoly capitalist system. We must focus on sustainable communities based on indigenous knowledge, not on capitalist development.
We demand that the United Nations, governments and corporations abandon false solutions to climate change, like large hydroelectric dams, genetically modified organisms including GMO trees, plantations, agro-fuels, “clean” coal, nuclear power, natural gas, hydraulic fracturing, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, bio-energy, biomass, biochar, geo-engineering, carbon markets, Clean Development Mechanism and REDD+ that endanger the future and life as we know it. Instead of helping to reduce global warming, they poison and destroy the environment and let the climate crisis spiral exponentially, which may render the planet almost uninhabitable.
We cannot allow false solutions to destroy the Earth’s balance, assassinate the seasons, unleash severe weather havoc, privatize life and threaten the very survival of humanity. The Green Economy is a crime against humanity and the Earth. In order to achieve sustainable development, states must recognize the traditional systems of resource management of the Indigenous Peoples that have existed for the millennia, sustaining us even in the face of colonialism. Assuring Indigenous Peoples’ active participation in decision making processes affecting them, and their right of Free Prior and Informed Consent is fundamental. States should likewise provide support for Indigenous Peoples appropriate to their sustainability and self determined priorities without restrictions and constricting guidelines.
Indigenous youth and women’s active participation must also be given importance as they are among the most affected by the negative impacts brought by the commodification of nature. As inheritors of Mother Earth, the youth play a vital role in continuing defending what is left of their natural resources that were valiantly fought for by their ancestors. Their actions and decisions amidst the commercialization of their resources and culture will determine the future of their younger brothers and sisters and the generations to come.
We will continue to struggle against the construction of hydroelectric dams and all other forms of energy production that affect our waters, our fish, our biodiversity and ecosystems that contribute to our food sovereignty. We will work to preserve our territories from the poison of monoculture plantations, extractive industries and other environmentally destructive projects and continue our ways of life, preserving our cultures and identities. We will work to preserve our traditional plants and seeds, and maintain the balance between our needs and the needs of our Mother Earth and her life sustaining capacity. We will demonstrate to the world that it can and must be done. In all matters we will gather and organize the solidarity of all Indigenous Peoples from all parts of the world, and all other sources of solidarity with non-indigenous of good will to join our struggle for food sovereignty and food security. We reject the privatization and corporate control of resources such as our traditional seeds and food. Finally, we demand the states to uphold our rights to the control of our traditional management systems and by providing concrete support such as appropriate technologies for us to develop our food sovereignty.
We reject the false promises of sustainable development and solutions to climate change that only serve the dominant economic order. We reject REDD, REDD+ and other market-based solutions that focus on our forests, to continue the violation of our inherent rights to self determination and right to our lands, territories, waters, and natural resources, and the Earth’s right to create and sustain life. There is no such thing as “sustainable mining.” There is no such thing as “ethical oil.”
We reject the assertion of intellectual property rights over the genetic resources and traditional knowledge of Indigenous peoples which results in the alienation and commodification of Sacred essential to our lives and cultures. We reject industrial modes of food production that promote the use of chemical substances, genetically engineered seeds and organisms. Therefore, we affirm our right to possess, control, protect and pass on the indigenous seeds, medicinal plants and traditional knowledge originating from our lands and territories for the benefit of our future generations.
The Future We Want
In the absence of a true implementation of sustainable development, the world is now in a multiple ecological, economic and climatic crisis; including biodiversity loss, desertification, deglaciation, food, water, energy shortage, a worsening global economic recession, social instability and crisis of values. In this sense, we recognize that much remains to be done by international agreements to respond adequately to the rights and needs of Indigenous Peoples. The actual contributions and potentials of our peoples must be recognized by a true sustainable development for our communities that allows each one of us to Live Well.
As peoples, we reaffirm our rights to self-determination and to own, control and manage our traditional lands and territories, waters and other resources. Our lands and territories are at the core of our existence – we are the land and the land is us; we have a distinct spiritual and material relationship with our lands and territories and they are inextricably linked to our survival and to the preservation and further development of our knowledge systems and cultures, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem management.
We will exercise the right to determine and establish priorities and strategies for our self-development and for the use of our lands, territories and other resources. We demand that free, prior and informed consent must be the determinant and legally binding principle of approving or rejecting any plan, project or activity affecting our lands, territories and other resources. Without the right of Free Prior and Informed Consent, the colonialist model of the domination of the Earth and its resources will continue with the same impunity.
We will continue to unite as Indigenous Peoples and build a strong solidarity and partnership among ourselves, local communities and non-indigenous genuine advocates of our issues. This solidarity will advance the global campaign for Indigenous Peoples rights to land, life and resources and in the achievement of our self-determination and liberation. We will continue to challenge and resist colonialist and capitalist development models that promote the domination of nature, incessant economic growth, limitless profit-seeking resource extraction, unsustainable consumption and production and the unregulated commodities and financial markets. Humans are an integral part of the natural world and all human rights, including Indigenous Peoples’ rights, which must be respected and observed by development.
We invite all of civil society to protect and promote our rights and worldviews and respect natural law, our spiritualities and cultures and our values of reciprocity, harmony with nature, solidarity, and collectivity. Caring and sharing, among other values, are crucial in bringing about a more just, equitable and sustainable world. In this context, we call for the inclusion of cultureas the fourth pillar of sustainable development.
The legal recognition and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples to land, territories, resources and traditional knowledge should be a prerequisite for development and planning for any and all types of adaptation and mitigation to climate change, environmental conservation (including the creation of “protected areas”), the sustainable use of biodiversity and measures to combat desertification. In all instances there must be free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples.
We continue to pursue the commitments made at Earth Summit as reflected in this political declaration. We call on the UN to begin their implementation, and to ensure the full, formal and effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in all processes and activities of the Rio+20 Conference and beyond, in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
We continue to inhabit and maintain the last remaining sustainable ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots in the world. We can contribute substantially to sustainable development but we believe that a holistic ecosystem framework for sustainable development should be promoted. This includes the integration of the human-rights based approach, ecosystem approach and culturally sensitive and knowledge-based approaches.
We declare our solidarity and support for the demands and aspirations of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil found in the Annex to this Declaration.
We Walk in the Footsteps of our Ancestors.
Accepted by Acclamation, Kari-Oka Village, at Sacred Kari-Oka Púku, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 17 June 2012.