Global Canoe: Bringing the Voice of the Forest to the Ears of the City.

Since ancient times, water has been a necessary element for human survival, and many people have settled along coastlines and along riverbanks and lakes. Indigenous peoples in their ancestral territories have paddled and protected the waterways that connect to islands, archipelagos and other remote areas. Using the rivers is a method of communication between communities, and indigenous peoples depend on them for their survival. The Kyoto Declaration of Indigenous Peoples on Water (2003) states that indigenous communities should be allowed to exercise their right to self-determination for matters related to the management, use, regulation, conservation, and renewal of the waterways upon which they are dependent:

“The relationship we have with our lands, territories and water represent the physical, cultural and spiritual fundaments for our existence. This relationship to our Mother Earth requires us to conserve our freshwaters and oceans for the survival of the present and future generations.” (Kyoto Declaration of Indigenous Peoples on Water)

Indigenous populations have a history of crossing the vast oceans of our planet, sail the great lakes, and are now using waterways in political actions called Global Canoe. The first action (2015) sailed down the Seine River. Dozens of Indigenous Persons Leaders from around the world converged in order to spread their messages regarding the preservation of the forests and the actions neccesary to mitigate climate change.

This canoe symbolizes the struggle and dedication of great environmental indigenous leaders and advocates such as Berta Caceres, Nelson Garcia, and Walter Mendez, each of whom was killed for exercising their territorial rights and loudly proclaiming their right to free, prior and informed consent for their communities. These leaders were killed for their actions to preserve our forests and safeguard our rivers.

“ We see ourselves as custodians of nature, of the earth, and especially of the rivers.” ~Berta Caceres
Global Witness

Indigenous Persons Leaders paddling Global Canoe will arrive in New York city on April 22nd and will cross the waters of the East River to spread commons messages to world leaders and will ask that they be included as decision makers during agreements made by the United Nations concerning climate change. This is not only for the sake of Indigenous Peoples, but for the sake of Mother Earth.

Strengthening the land rights for indigenous peoples, for example, is a way to reduce both poverty among indigenous communities and also to mitigate climate change: over 2.5 billion people rely on indigenous and communal lands, yet only one-fifth of these territories are legally allowed for indigenous use.

Research conducted by various international organizations clearly demonstrates the accuracy of these data and trends:

• A review of 130 local studies in 14 countries, developed jointly between the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) found that managed forests communally suffer less deforestation and accumulate more carbon than other forests.

• Globally, about 85% of the areas with high biodiversity coincide with traditional indigenous lands. Global Environment Facility.

• The forest that indigenous peoples manage stored 37,700 million tons of carbon, this amount is greater than the global CO2 emissions during 2013. RRI

This April 22nd, coinciding with the International Mother Earth Day, in an historic act in which the signatures of 155 nations will ratified the agreements to collectively fight against climate change; but if the proposal and ancestral knowledge of Indigenous People is not considered and included, those signatures will be carried by the wind.

For this reason, representatives of indigenous peoples from Indonesia (AMAN), the Amazon (COICA) and Mesoamerica (AMPB) will sail the waters of the East River in New York, and make a public demonstration as the heirs of the lands who have safeguarded it for millennia.

This second event the Global Canoe will sail in front of the headquarters of the United Nations and paddlers will proclaim once again the right to territorial titling. The indigenous leaders paddling have already demonstrated their responsibility to various communities to safeguard forests, and they need — at minimum — the right to funding to combat climate change, the right to free, prior and informed consent; and the right for not being criminalized for defending what they are protecting every single day… Mother Earth.


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