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COP21: Indigenous peoples demand legal status to protect lands


France

COP21: Indigenous peoples demand legal status to protect lands

Away from the media coverage of the Climate Conference, the voices of the people on the frontline of the effects of global warming are fighting to be heard. People like Patricia Gualinga who lives in Ecuador’s Amazonian rainforest.

“We are working to make sure that indigenous peoples are recognized as major players in the fight to mitigate the effects of global warming. We are defending our forests and challenging oil extraction and mining so we can protect the Amazon’s tropical forests….
In this context small villages of 1200 people in the Amazon area of Ecuador have come here to the COP21 in Paris trying to create a global conscience about how to find a solution for a problem as big as global warming,” said Patricia Gualinga who is Kichwa international relations leader in Sarayaku, Ecuadorian Amazonia:

Ecuador’s rain forests have been declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve. When the country’s government granted a concession to an oil company to dig up the area’s natural resources Patricia and other activists took a stand and now want to be awarded the legal right to be the chief protectors of their lands.

In 2012 the Inter American Court of Human Rights ruled that Patricia and the people of Sarayaku in Ecuador must be consulted and give their consent prior to projects on their territories. However Ecuador’s government has done little to address the court’s ruling.

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