This year’s World Social Forum is officially kicking off tomorrow, and is being held in Belem–in the Brazilian Amazon. Approximately 100,000 people, representing civil society, social movements, and Indigenous people around the world are expected to participate throughout the week.
Indigenous federations COIAB and COICA along with RAN, Amazon Watch, Amazon Alliance, and Spectral Q, are coordinating a massive human banner for the opening day. Over 1000 people , largely comprised of Indigenous leaders from throughout the Amazon and South America, along with allies at the forum will stand, sit and lay their bodies down in order to send an urgent message to the world calling for immediate action to defend the Amazon .
As leaders from wealthy nations meet this week in Davos, Swtizerland at the World Economic Forum, our human banner will send this message to them and the global community: the Amazon is on the verge of collapse and the time to act is now. Not only is the destruction of the Amazon a major contributor to global warming, the protection of it is essential to climate stabilization, and vital to the many Indigenous peoples that depend and live within it.
Almost one fifth of the Amazon has been deforested over the past four decades, and each year, between 11,000 and 27,000 square kilometers of additional forest are destroyed. If development plans for the Amazon continue unchecked, scientists predict that the entire Amazon region will be at the brink of permanent ecological collapse within the next 10 – 20 years. The Indigenous communities whose lives and livelihoods depend on it will be devastated in this scenario.
I don’t believe that the path to further destruction is an option, nor is it inevitable. In the last couple of days since I’ve been in Belem, I’ve heard in no uncertain terms from the Indigenous representatives here that the defense of Amazonia is not only essential, it is unquestionable. Stand or sit in, lay your body down. The time is now.