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The Mandate of Manaus: Indigenous Action for Life


From 15-18 August 2011 the First Regional Amazonian Summit took place in Manaus, the capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas. It was organised by the Coordinating Commitee of Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon Basin (COICA).

The theme of this first meeting was “Ancestral Knowledge, People and Life in Harmony with Nature”. Representatives of indigenous peoples from all over Latin America were present.

The meeting approved unanimously a plan for action, entitled “The Manaus Mandate: Indigenous Action for Life”. The original document in Portuguese can be accessed here.

“We have no owners, like life itself”
The Manaus Mandate: Indigenous Action for Life

Gathered in Manaus between 15th and 18th of August, 2011, at the First Regional Amazonian Summit, the Amazonic Indigenous people and organisations from nine countries: Bolivia (CIDOB), Brazil (COIAB), Ecuador (CONFENIAE), Colombia (OPIAC), Guyana (APA), French Guiana (FOAG), Peru (AIDESEP), Venezuela (ORPIA) and Suriname (OIS), together with other social, governmental and environmental agencies, concluded that the climatic and environmental crisis is extremely serious, perhaps irreversible. Global and national powers are not doing anything of relevance to stop this crisis; in fact, in many cases they are profiting from it, with their so-called “green businesses deals”, even though these endanger all forms of life. They are powers based on racism, patriarchy, individualism, mercantilism and consumerism; privatising everything and acting arrogantly as if they own nature, forgetting that, in reality, they are just a small part of it.

We denounce the hypocrisy and contradictions in the global and national policies on forests. While “sustainable” statements, plans and projects seem to abound, depredation, deforestation and degradation continue to occur. These result directly  from mining and hydrocarbon exploration, large-scale hydroelectric dams, extensive cattle and soya farming, agribusinesses, pesticides, the expropriation of indigenous protected areas, bio-piracy and theft of ancestral knowledge. Better forestry policies and practices are urgently needed and we call for a complete change in the macro-policies of the neo-liberal global powers.

We propose the following objectives, focuses, alternatives and actions:

1. ‘Full Life’ territories for the planet’s cooling

It has been proven that, if proper measures are taken to impede degradation and deforestation, the forests and the territories of the Amazonian people can become havens of life. It is fundamental to change legislation and public policies to provide an accurate demarcation of the territories of indigenous peoples, to guarantee their collective entitlement as a people, and to support, rather than marginalize, our “Full Life” strategies, which make a marked contrast to the commodification of nature. This is an effective strategy to reduce global warming and to recover the harmony with Mother Earth, which we have maintained for thousands of years. In order to change the climate, we have to change the system. The system and us, Mother Nature’s earth-coloured children, should adapt to nature’s call and adapt to its needs..

The financial cost to settle this historic debt, which has its origins in the ethnocide of  the colonisation period, is very small if compared with the money currently being spent on ineffective meetings and projects.

2 – To strengthen “REDD+ Indigenous” and to make ecological debtors reduce their pollution.

To the ones with power of decision over REDD+ processes [REDD is the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries] , that is, the World Bank and the Inter-American Bank, FIB, ONU-REDD, COP17-CMUNCC, Rio+20 and others, we demand, before taking any further steps in REDD+ processes, that  guarantees should be given to the Indigenous People:

— To respect and strengthen the REDD+ Indigenous proposals or adapt REDD+ to the collective vision and rights of the indigenous people, as is stated in the document “COICA guidelines on climate change and REDD+” which states the following:

* With no assigned territory or guaranteed collective rights, REDD+ is infeasible;

* No communal contract relinquishing territorial control or intellectual property is to be signed until all international rules are applied. And these are not to be drafted in foreign languages and laws;

* To respect and support the conservation of the forests as a whole, not only in the areas where deforestation occurs;

* To respect our national regulation proposals in regards to REDD

+ To ensure prior, free and binding consultation and consent;

* To respect COICA’s reports on REDD+ alongside the state’s reports;

* To establish unbiased and efficient strategies to deal with conflict resolutions;

* Not to support the carbon credit market, a mere façade for the global polluters.

* To prioritise policies and funds to consolidate and entitle the Indigenous Peoples Territory, an unrestricted condition before advancing any further with REDD+;

* To change national laws to guarantee the Collective Right on consultation and consent, on environmental services laws and on forestry services laws which abound with “REDD+ loopholes” (mineral, hydrocarbon, agri-fuel, etc).

* To ensure states and banks take responsibility for controlling the expansion of Redd+ thieves (carbon cowboys, REDD+ bubble) by taking the following measures: to set up international public registration and certification for REDD+ operators; to ban fraudulent companies and NGO’s that have been denounced by the indigenous peoples; to work with communities to create an understanding that they should not sign any ‘REDD+ contracts’ or ‘carbon deals’ until all national and international regulations are implemented.

·* To prioritise the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) contamination by the biggest industrialised environmental debtors, who come from the rich minority powers, North and South.

3. To unify ancestral knowledge and biodiversity survival.

Our ancestral knowledge is intrinsically connected to the productive conservation of nature, and guided by this ideal, we request to the Conference of the 11 Parts of the Biological Diversity Congress and to the International Nature Union (UICN) the support to the following proposals:

·– To prioritise the demarcation, legalisation and legal security of the indigenous territories, as a means of conservation of biodiversity, genetic resources and ancestral knowledge.

— To consolidate the right to prior consultation and the right to prior, free, informed and binding consent of the indigenous peoples, to access the genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge in the indigenous territories.

— To ensure that the genetic resources and associated ancestral knowledge in the indigenous territories constitute the collective intellectual and natural heritage of the indigenous peoples and have been preserved and passed on from generation to generation for thousands of years

.– To ensure that access to ancestral knowledge and genetic resources comes with a fair and equitable participation in the benefits and derived products.

— To ensure that governments and international organisations (such as the Convention on Biological Diversity – CBD) should grant a sui generis legal status for the protection of the ancestral knowledge, as ancestral knowledge is not public domain but is part of the cultural heritage of the indigenous peoples. 

— To ensure that ancestral knowledge is not commercialised and that it is not misused in unauthorised biotechnological patents.

4. Rio+20: Solutions for Life, not for the Market.

The 2012 UN Conference to be held in Rio de Janeiro next June will be one of the last opportunities to save all life forms in the planet. We, the Amazonian people, call for political and cultural acts in areas in the vicinity of the summit location. We call for the participation of indigenous leaders, artists, scientists and academics to get the attention of global politicians and to get public opinion behind us. We must develop political intervention strategies within and outside Rio+20 and set up our own Summit of the Indigenous Peoples, one that is plural, democratic and very public.

We must muster as much political support as possible, to ensure the UN does not give in to the irresponsible political games of the global powers. We must ensure real advancements are made in the objectives and proposals, such as:

· Refuse to accept the “Green Economy” as a mere combination of developing neoliberalism with “green projects”, instead see it as a profound change where consumerism, waste and degradation are reduced, and where there’s a real shift in production patterns, consumption, distribution and energy (hydrocarbons and biofuels) to achieve a society in harmony with different cultures and with nature.

· Renewal of the Kyoto Protocol, with binding commitments to reduce the effect of the greenhouse gases and participation of the indigenous peoples. We should not leave up to the powers to decide how much, when and how they reduce their emissions.

· Consolidation of the Territories of the Indigenous Peoples and their “Full Life” Vision, conceding to them the management of nature for the ‘cooling’ of the planet, providing them with the necessary global public funding to implement territorial demarcation and entitlement.

· Establishment of an International Environmental Court, independent from the global powers and with the participation of the indigenous peoples, who are most affected by the environmental crimes.

· Reorganisation of the UN’s environmental agencies, to ensure they are not controlled by the polluting powers, surpassing bureaucracy to allow the participation and influence of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon and of the world.

Finally, the Summit proposes communication as a means to enable political action, not only as a tool for dialogue. To have an effective influence in public polices to access all media and make use of information technology to set COICA’s Network of Amazon Communicators in motion.

The indigenous people and nature are one, therefore we must reduce deforestation and keep the forests alive, guarding their many benefits such as fresh water, biodiversity and climate for the survival of all life. All we are asking for is to leave us in peace so we continue with our mission.

An end to”Belo Monsters” type of projects in Brazil, Guyana, Peru (Marañón, Pakitzapango), Bolivia and in the world!

No to a Rio+20 which will condemn the people and life in the Xingu!

No to the motorway to be built on the indigenous territory Isiboro Secure in Bolivia, brother Evo Morales, defend your people’s interests not BNDES’s (Brazilian Development Bank)!

An end to the oil destruction in Ecuador (Yasuní), in Peru (Datem) and in other countries!

No to the impositions of IIRSA [Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America], like the Manta-Manaus Interconnection Road, which will destroy the Napo River!

Action and Solidarity with the plight of the indigenous people of the Amazon and the world!

Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, ratify Convention 169!

We, the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Region, walking on the path of our ancestors, ask the world to open their hearts and dreams and join us in our journey for life and for all humans.


– Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon Basin


– Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Organisations of the Brazilian Amazon



– Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Forest


– Regional Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Peoples Organisations


– Regional Association of the Central Forest Indigenous Peoples


– Regional Organisation of the Eastern Indigenous Peoples


– Regional Organisation AIDESEP Ucayali, ORAU

– Native Federation Madre de Dios, FENAMAD

– Coordinating Committee of Defense and Development of the Indigenous Peoples of San Martin, CODEPISAM

– Regional Organisation of the Indigenous Peoples of Alto Marañon



– Confederation of the Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, CONFENIAE

– Confederation of Cofan Indigenous Peoples of Ecuador, FEINCE

– Organisation of the Secoya Indigenous People of Ecuador, OISE

– Interprovincial Federation of Kichwas Communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon, FICCKAE

– Interprovincial Federation of the Shuar Centres, FICSH

– Federation of the Organisations of Kichwa Nationalities of Sucumbios, FONAKISE

– Achuar Nationality of Ecuador, NAE

– Sapara Nation of Ecuardor, NASE

– Provincial Federation of the Shuar Nationalities of Zamora, Chinchipe, FEPNASH.ZCH


– Confederation of the Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia, CIDOB

– Guarani People Assembly, APG

– Organisation of the Heads fo the Wenhayek and Tapiete, ORKAWETA

– National Confederation of Indigenous Women of Bolivia, CNAMIB

– Centre for the Ethnic People of Mojeños de Beni, CPEMBE

– Centre for the Indigenous Peoples of the Pando Amazon, CIPOAP

– Indigenous Centre for the Bolivian Amaznon, CIRABO

– Centre for the Indigenous Peoples of La Paz, CPILAP


– Coordinating Committee of Indigenous Organisations of the Brazilian Amazon


– FEPOIMI, Cuiaba, Pantanal

– COAPIMA, Coordinating Committee for the Organisations of the Indigenous Peoples of Maranón

– FOIRN – Federation of the Indigenous Organisations of Alto Rio Negro

– HUTUKARA Association

– FOIRN – Federation of the Indigenous Peoples of Rio Negro

– ICRASIM – Institute, Reference and Health Support Centre of Manaus


– COPIAM – Council of the Indigenous Teachers of the Amazon

– OGPTB – General Organisation of the Ticuna Bilingual Teachers

– CGPH– General Council of the Hexkariana People

– AMARN –Indigenous Women of Alto Rio Negro Association

– COIAM – Confederation of the Indigenous Organisations and Peoples of the Amazon

– AMISM –Sateré-Mawé Indigenous Women Association

– WAIKIRU Association

– MUNDURUKU Indigenous Peoples Association

– MEIAM – Movement for the Indigenous Students of the Amazon

– WOTCHIMAUCÜ Organisation

– UPIM – Union of the Indigenous Peoples of Manaus

– Metareilá Organisation of the Suruí People

– Association of the Cinta-Larga People

– Forum of the Organisations of the Paiter- Suruí People

– CIR – Indigenous Council of Roraima

– APIRR –Indigenous Peoples of Roraima Association

– OPIR – Organisation of Roraima’s Indigenous Teachers

– OMIR – Organisation of the Roraima’s Indigenous Women

– CONJABA – Council of the Organisations of the Javaé Indigenous Peoples of Bananal Island

– CIX – Xavante Indigenous Peoples General Coordination

– ATIX – Xingu Indigenous Land Association

– OPRIMT – Organisation of the Indigenous Teachers of Mato Grosso

– Raoni Institute

– FEPOIMT – Federation of the Indigenous Peoples of Mato Grosso

– OPIN – Organisation of the Indigenous Peoples Amazonian Southern Acre and Northeastern Rondonia

– OPIAJBAM Organisation of the Apurinã and Jamamadi Indigenous Peoples of Boca do Acre – AM

– COAPIMA – Coordinating Committee of the Organisations of the Indigenous Peoples of Maranhão

– APIO – Oiapoque Indigenous Peoples Association

– UMIAB – Union of the Brazilian Amazon Women



Organisation of the Indigenous Peoples in Suriname, OIS

– Talawa


– Umari

– Vrouwe Organisalie

– Alle 34 Inheemse Dorpen Van Suriname


– Organisation of the Colombian Amazon Indigenous Peoples, OPIAC

– Association of the Indigenous Authorities of Guaviar, CRIGUA II

– Organisation of the Indigenous Zone of Putomayo, OZIP

– Association of the Regional Indigenous Council of Guainía, ASOCRIGUA

– Association of Cabildos Huitotos of Caquetá, ASCAINCA

– The Ameridian Peoples of Guiana Association, APA


– Regional Organisation of the Amazon Indigenous Peoples, ORPIA

– indigenous Federation of the Bolívar State

– Union of the Indigenous Communities of Warao, UCIW-CONIVE Delta Amacuro

– National Council of the Venezuelan Indigenous Peoples, CONIVE

French Guiana

– Federation of the Autonomous Organisations of Guiana, FOCAG

– Federation Lokono, FL

– Makana Pinius WAYAPI

– Chief Council, CC.G

– Kauna Council, MANA

– Kalina Council, KOUROU

– Kalina Council, AWALA

– Kulakasi Council, CK

– Palikve Council, MATAP

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