Indigenous Leaders Activists Against Climate Change that you Should Know

The Knowledge and Action of Indigenous Communities is Essential to Face Climate Change. We tell you About some Indigenous Leaders Highlighted for Their Commitment to Climate Action.

Alex Lucitante and Alexandra Narvaez, Nina Gualinga, Sonia Guajajara

Photo: YT-Goldman Environmental Prize, TW-NinaGualinga, TW-GuajajaraSonia

LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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Leer en español: Líderes indígenas activistas contra el cambio climático que debes conocer

Indigenous communities are often strongly affected by the extractive economy in Latin America. Added to this is a series of structural and cultural violence exerted historically, which have resulted in disregard for their knowledge and exclusion from decision-making. However, their resistance and struggles must be valued, as well as their knowledge, useful to develop resilience against climate change.

For this reason, below you will find 16 indigenous leaders highlighted for their commitment to climate action recognized in the latest ranking of the Sachamama organization of the 100 Latinos Most Committed to Climate Action 2022.

1. Alex Lucitante and Alexandra Narváez – Ai'Kofán People

They are the winners of the 2022 Goldman Prize, known as the Nobel Prize for the environment, for their work leading an indigenous movement in Ecuador to defend their ancestral territory from the harm of gold mining. In 2018, they obtained a legal victory by getting the courts of Ecuador to cancel 52 concessions for gold extraction, since their Cofán community was not consulted, which was violated. With this struggle, the community managed to protect 319.7017km² of forest.

2. Alice Pataxó – Pataxó Town

She is a 21-year-old indigenous communicator, journalist and activist who, since she was 14, has been part of environmental and student movements in defense of human rights, indigenous peoples, the decolonial perspective and the protection of ecosystems. She has participated in events of global relevance such as COP26.

4. Artemisa Xakriabá – Xakriabá People

Artemisa, 22, belongs to the Xakriabá people and is a leader of the Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil. She has worked in defense of the territory and the environmental damage inflicted on the Amazon and other regions by mining. She was a representative of his community at the UN Climate Action Summit.

4. Domingo Peas – Achuar People

He is the leader of the Achuar people of the Ecuadorian Amazon and a representative in the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (CONFENAIE). He has been involved in various organizations defending the rights of indigenous peoples and the protection of the Amazon.

5. Gianella Sánchez Guimaraes – Shipibo Konibo People

She is a lawyer, youth representative of the Indigenous Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle, AIDESEP. She is also a leader in the 2030 Sacred Basins Bioregional Plan initiative and an activist for the Escazú Agreement. In addition, she works for women's rights.

6. Helena Gualinga – Kichwa Sarayuku People

She is an environmental and human rights activist from Ecuador. Her struggle has been as a spokesperson for the Sarayuku indigenous community to protect the Amazon forest from extractivist companies that threaten the forest and their community. Likewise, she is the protagonist of the documentary "Helena de Sarayaku", in which she narrates the resistance and knowledge of her community, in English, Spanish and Kichwa. She is a defender and promoter of the concept of Kawsak Sacha or Living Forest.

We recommend you read: Indigenous Peoples Must Be Leaders In Conservation And Sustainability

7. Jorge Pérez Rubio – Murui People

He is president of the National Board of Directors of the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle (AIDESEP). Previously, he was president of the Regional Organization of the Indigenous Peoples of the East (ORPIO). From his leadership positions, he has promoted the recognition of the territorial rights of indigenous peoples and claimed their knowledge for the fight against climate change.

8. Jose Gregorio Díaz Mirabal- Wakuenai Kurripaco People

He is a Venezuelan, general coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), which represents 511 indigenous peoples. From there, he leads initiatives to protect the Amazon rainforest and its rivers, as well as defend the principles and knowledge of the communities that inhabit it.

9. Leo Cerda – Kichwa People

He is a member and leader of the Kichwa community of Serena in the Ecuadorian Amazon. He founded the HAKHU Project, which aims to encourage a community economy to deal with mining and oil development in the Amazon, which annihilates the ecosystems and the territory of the communities.

10. Lola Piyahuaje – Siekopaai People

She is a leader of the Siekopaai community in northern Ecuador and works to improve the quality of life of the indigenous people of the Amazon. "She is vice president of Confeniae, a regional indigenous organization that represents communities belonging to the Amazonian nationalities, Kichwa, Shuar, Achuar, Waorani, Sapara, Andwa, Shiwiar, Cofan, Siona, Siekopai and Kijus," says Sachamama.

11. Nemonte Nemquino – Village   Waorani

She is president of the Waorani organization of Pastaza, located in the Ecuadorian Amazon. She has worked for the legal defense of the Amazonian territories against oil extraction. "She was the recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, was the only indigenous woman on Time magazine's 100 most influential people in the world, and was included in the BBC's 100 women list," says Sachamama.

12. Nina Gualinga – Kichwa people of Sarayaku

She is a defender of the Amazon rainforest and women's rights. Since she was a child, she has been involved in the struggles of her community to protect the jungle from oil extraction, a struggle she shares with her sister Helena. Her father is Swedish and her mother is indigenous Ecuadorian, and this has allowed her to communicate the struggle of her family and community in the Global North.

13. Sonia Guajajara – Guajajara People

She is a politician, congresswoman elected by the state of Sao Paulo in Brazil in the last elections. She has been recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. In her political work, she seeks legal protection and the achievement of guarantees for indigenous peoples and the protection of the Amazon and other natural areas.

14. Txai Suruí – Suruí People

She is a lawyer who works to protect the territorial rights and sovereignty of indigenous peoples, as well as for climate justice. In addition, she is the founder and coordinator of the Rondônia Indigenous Youth Movement.

15. Wrays Pérez Ramírez – Pueblo Wampis

For more than three decades, he has been a leader who has worked in Peru to defend the rights of Amazonian communities. Currently, "he is the territorial coordinator of the Sacred Basin Alliance and President of ICCA Latin America, an initiative to support areas and territories conserved by indigenous peoples and local communities," says Sachamama.

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