By Claire Poelking, Program Associate, MacArthur Foundation
“We continue to be frustrated by the lack of understanding about the tremendous importance of Cofán and campesino grassroots conservation activities.”
Fundación para la Sobrevivencia del Pueblo Cofán (FSC), an indigenous support organization founded in 1999, reclaims and protects ancestral territory of the Cofán nation in the northeastern Ecuadorian Amazon, safeguarding their lands from illegal or poorly regulated logging, mining, agriculture, and oil extraction. The statement above is from recent communications with FSC – and is not a sentiment felt by the Cofán alone.
In fact, following the 2019 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that calls for securing community land rights to fight climate change, indigenous peoples and local communities from 42 countries spanning 76% of the world’s tropical forests wrote a statement that includes this passage:
We—Indigenous Peoples and local communities—play a critical role in stewarding and safeguarding the world’s lands and forests. […] Yet our contributions have so far been overlooked.