2020: The Invaluable Role of Indigenous Peoples

Posted on 22 diciembre 2020

Indigenous peoples are key in protecting forests, fighting climate change, conserving nature and providing resources such as water.
Indigenous peoples are key to protecting forests, the fight against climate change, nature conservation, and the provision of resources such as water. Indigenous territories in the Colombian Amazon, besides representing 54% of the region’s area, play a key role in the provision of ecosystem services, ecological connectivity, and climate regulation. They are also barriers against deforestation. Their contribution is invaluable, but it is not appreciated enough and is sometimes not even recognized.
After two years of joint work with the Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC, for its acronym in Spanish), this year we concluded the report Indigenous Amazonian Territories: Contribution to the Fulfillment of Colombia's Climate Change and Diversity Goals. The report upholds the importance of Amazonian indigenous territories in the country and their contribution to Sustainable Development Goals in Colombia, making it a useful tool for decision-making and other political advocacy processes.
The document also presents OPIAC's policy proposals to ensure the conservation of its territories over time and explains how the actions that promote the conservation of these territories are also a contribution to the climate change and biodiversity commitments that the Colombian government has pledged to the international community. Indigenous peoples contribute primarily to SDG 13- Climate action and 15- Protection of terrestrial ecosystems, conserving their territories using the knowledge of their ancestors. 
Based on an analysis of indigenous territories, the document links the elements of OPIAC's political agenda to the importance of indigenous territories, which makes their advocacy much more effective.
It is not possible to talk about the conservation of the Colombian Amazon without involving the indigenous peoples who inhabit it, or without regarding their ancestral vision and their efforts to maintain their traditions. In addition to the high-risk conditions that communities face due to the expansion of extractive schemes and illegal activities, this year represented an even greater challenge given the arrival of Covid-19 in the most remote territories.
It has never been more urgent to strengthen dialogue and support processes. It will not be possible to ensure the conservation of biodiversity if we do not achieve a holistic vision that integrates indigenous peoples, ensures respect for their territories, and contributes to the conservation and financing of their efforts to protect their land.
Amazonian indigenous territories: Contribution to compliance with commitments on climate change and biodiversity in Colombia
© WWF Colombia