Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (June 19, 2012). Today the Original Kichwa People of Sarayaku made a presentation on their historic case, Sarayaku vs. Ecuador, at the international indigenous summit, Kari-Oca II in Río de Raniero.
The delegation participated in the event, Megaprojects and Climate Policies: Challenges and Strategies to Realize Indigenous Rights and Sustainable Development, organized by the Indian Law Resource Center. Sarayaku presented in conjunction with partners from Indian Law and the Association of Amerindian Peoples of Guyana.
On Saturday, the Sarayaku delegation and nearly 50 indigenous delegates from Abya Yala completed the Rio+20 Caravan. The caravan was a two-week bus trip from Ecuador to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the UN Summit on Sustainable Development, Rio +20, is taking place this week.
While world leaders will deliberate on the development of a "green economy" at Rio +20, nearly 500 representatives of indigenous communities from around the world will develop their own proposals during the second World Conference of Indigenous Peoples on territories, Environment and Development, Kari-Oca II. This alternative summit takes place near the Rio +20 site on June 13-22.
“The Kari-Oca caravan and summit are places for sharing experiences and perspectives among nations and indigenous peoples,” said Franklin Toala, caravan coordinator and international relations director for Sarayaku.
“All over the world, indigenous peoples face similar problems. They are fighting oil and mining activities in their traditional territories. There is a lack of free, prior and informed consent between governments and indigenous peoples. The objectives of the caravan and Kari-Oca events are the exchange of experiences in order to find a real mechanism to take care of the planet”, said Toala.
Toala says that in government-run conservation programs, "there is no real sense of conservation." He says this because in Ecuador, oil exploration can take place even in forests that are placed under protection.
Toala continues to use the lauded Yasuní ITT Initiative project as an example. The Yasuní initiative proposes to keep oil reserves below one of the most biodiverse regions in the world in exchange for $350 million from individual donations and donor countries. Ecuador has threatened on numerous occasions to execute “Plan B” if the country does not receive enough funds to finance it. Plan B means oil exploration in the Yasuní, however, with the promise of using advanced technology.
We don't have a plan B,” says Toala. "Our communities depend on the health of the environment, and the conservation of forests through ancestral practices of land management."
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