Indigenous group in the Amazon. Photo: Pixabay

Commenting on UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of new funding to tackle deforestation in the Amazon, Christian Aid’s Bolivia country manager Emma Donlan said:

“While we welcome the announcement of a £10 million increase in funding to step up efforts to protect and restore the Amazon rainforest region, we would urge the UK government to ensure it is spent in a way that both fully supports the people of the Amazon and fully involves them in the process. This process must be led by the very people who are most affected.

“As the G7 concludes its meeting, the time is now to stop talking and start taking the urgent action needed to save our planet. We cannot sit by and watch while the lungs of the planet burn. The unprecedented wildfires currently raging through the Amazon rainforest are devastating for all of us, but particularly the one million indigenous people that live there.

“We would urge world leaders, including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to lead the way in calling for urgent action to protect vulnerable communities, who are in most immediate danger as a result of these fires, and have for years been on the frontline of protecting and defending this fragile ecosystem against destructive policies and practices in the forests. Christian Aid stands in solidarity with our local partners and environmental rights defenders across the Amazon, who often face intimidation and threats for speaking out protect the Amazon and fight for the rights of those who live there.

“Christian Aid also welcomes news that the UK will be doubling its Green Climate Fund contribution from £720 million over the past four years to £1.44 billion over next four years, including ambitious targets to protect diversity. The people who live in the Amazon forest and other vital natural environments must be at the heart of protecting these vulnerable and diverse ecosystems.

“We must focus on aid and initiatives that support both and stand in solidarity with communities fighting exploitative companies and leaders.

“As the Synod of Bishops on the Amazon is scheduled to meet in Rome in October, Christian Aid is among 79 faith-based organisations who have signed “Somos la Amazonia” – a declaration of support calling on protection of the rainforest and the human right defenders in the region.”


TEXT OF SOMOS LA AMAZONIA DECLARATION

Amazon faith Solidarity Action

As part of the global ecumenical community we, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with churches and communities across the Amazon region. The ecological crisis of the rainforests calls for ongoing efforts by ecumenical partners to achieve peace and justice at local, national, regional and international levels. It is in this context we endorse and support the following statement from the Latin American Churches:

God speaks to us of all creation. Heaven and Earth proclaim the presence of the love of God that gives us life in the forest, in the waters, in the atmosphere, in the miracle of seeds and in the diversity of all that exists. Every being who breathes participates in this love. Every being who breathes also knows that this love-made world, is threatened and exploited by an economic model that transforms everything into merchandise, which does not accept limits for its expansion and accumulation of wealth.

We, churches, ecumenical councils, and faith-based organizations are aware of these painful, imminent and worsening threats:

• Learn to listen to the cry of the forest and all its beings and cultures: often we were callous and deaf to this cry that is born in the heart of the Amazon;

• Learn to abandon our preconceived ideas about the region: often we do not listen to the beings and cultures that make the Amazon beat;

• Learn to interpret the deterioration of economic, cultural, religious and political models of intensive and predatory extractives: often we do not raise our prophetic voice in the defence of peoples, species and territories against megaprojects in the region, financed with local and global capital, promoters of the climate crisis;

• Let us learn to embody our faith in life and in Amazonian cultures: we often tolerate supremacists and destructive missionary proposals, destroyers of the diverse presence of God in the Amazon;

• Learn from the current process of the Pan-Amazonian Synod of the Roman Catholic Church and the exhortation of Pope Francis’ encyclical on care for the environment, Laudato Si to dialogue in this moment of spirituality and prophecy, assuming also our commitment and faith.In defence of the great Amazon, its people and all its created beings.

In defence of our common home. In defence of every being that breathes. We want the Amazon alive, sovereign and protected. We commit ourselves to the dialogues of faith and to maintain our presence in the region taking as a priority all the beings and cultures of the Amazon. We are committed to:

1- Continue to pressure states to ensure that traditional threatened communities (indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants, peasants, among others) have access to and control over the land and its common property.

2- Contribute to ensuring that historically excluded and marginalized communities in the forest and in the cities, participate, influence and make decisions in the processes that affect them in a direct way in their territories.

3- Defend human rights defenders and nature defenders who are constantly being threatened through effective reporting and protection mechanisms.

4- Support local communities in the promotion of sustainable economic alternatives and to confront the current economic system facing the challenges of the climate crisis in the region.

5- Develop an ecological spirituality that will help us to listen to what the spirit says to the churches, feeling part of the common home and the whole inhabited world.

6- Support local organizations and faith-based initiatives in the development of these objectives, keeping us always informed, challenging and active in what is an imperative of our faith: WE ARE THE AMAZON!

7- Summon our churches and sister organizations in the in the Global North and South to prayer and action, aware that the dangers of extinction of the planet are before all, but the solidarity and the globalization of hope are what unites us in the defence of our common home: The world that God loves so much.

For more information on how to endorse the “We Are the Amazon” declaration, click here.

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