Why indigenous and Afro-descendant communities are essential for preserving the environment?
Indigenous peoples and those of African descent are rural groups representing almost 46% of the rural population of Latin America. The Plurinational State of Bolivia, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru have the largest number of indigenous and Afro-descendant populations.
According to Human Rights Convention 169, indigenous peoples are defined as “populations inhabiting the country or a geographical region to which the country belonged at the time of conquest, colonization or the establishment of present State boundaries and which, irrespective of their legal status, retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and political institutions.
Furthermore, Afro-descendant communities correspond to people from the African diaspora around the world.
The latin america context
In Latin America, these communities are essential for preserving the balance of biodiversity, mitigating the consequences of climate change, and defending natural reserves against deforestation, intensive farming and ranching caused by settlers and laissez-faire governments.
These communities are victims of serious violations threatening their lives, their cultural identity, and their right to enjoy and dispose of their territories. This discrimination continues to increase, due to the impunity of the perpetrators and the lack of response from governments. Furthermore, structural inequalities are very present in these communities, and do not guarantee women’s economic automation, children’s education and social inclusion, or access to essential and reproductive healthcare.
Defending and promoting the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendant people is crucial to protecting not only human dignity, but also the environment, which without these communities will continue to deteriorate. RIDHE is calling on support to preserve these communities and prevent discrimination, forced displacement and environmental degradation, and to promote development models that respect their traditional ways of life.
The priorities of RIDHE
- Create a network of defenders of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities to strengthen their capacities and exchange best practices.
- Advocacy to defend the rights of indigenous and Afro-descendant communities in exile.
- Advocacy to defend their right to enjoy and dispose of their ancestral territories, and to protect their natural resources from exploitation and environmental degradation.
- Advocacy at international level for the approval of the Bioclima project.
- Promote sustainable development models that respect their traditional ways of life.
- Support indigenous and Afro-descendant women in their economic automation.
- Promoting equitable access to education via the emergency education assistance program for vulnerable children in exile in Costa Rica.
- Support for institutional strengthening to promote and preserve the cultural identity and capacities of member organizations.