The Spring 2019 Climate Alliance South America Tour – Supporting climate justice with indigenous partners

By Climate Alliance

In March and April 2019, a Climate Alliance delegation undertook a tour in Ecuador, Peru and Brazil in support of indigenous partners and partnerships.

We are happy to share the experiences of Climate Alliance President and Mayor of Cologne Andreas Wolter, Climate Alliance Executive Director Thomas Brose and Climate Alliance Austria Executive Director Markus Hafner-Auinger as well as Johannes Kandler of Climate Alliance Austria and Silke Lunnebach of the Climate Alliance Headquarters in Frankfurt below. For more photo highlights, see our Flickr albums!

Find out how your network is supporting climate justice and enjoy the read!

First stop: Quito, Ecuador

COICA’s Birthday Celebration

COICA, our key indigenous partner of over 25 years, has just celebrated its 35th birthday! Our gift: the launch of a new renewable energies fund for small scale projects throughout Amazonia. COICA highlighted its commitment to protecting indigenous sacred headwaters via an initiative by the same name as well as to the use of renewable energies for energy independence and territorial protection.

“I’m a grandfather now, but I still feel strong enough to fight for the Amazon.”

– Evaristo Nugkuag Ikanan, first COICA coordinator and co-founder of Climate Alliance

Fund for Renewable Energies

Many indigenous peoples either lack access to energy or are reliant on the very fossil fuel companies threatening their existence. Initiatives such as solar lamps and solar powered boats counter this situation and are very much worth supporting. In honour of COICA’s birthday, we thus announced a new fund for renewable energies. Towns and other interested parties will soon be able to contribute via the fund and thus support small scale renewable energy projects in Amazonia.

Second stop: Lima, Peru

Meeting with indigenous mayors

In Lima, Climate Alliance President & Cologne Mayor Andreas Wolter opened a meeting between indigenous mayors, representatives of Peruvian communal reserves and the Climate Alliance delegation as part of Cologne’s climate partnership. The meeting allowed for an discussion of synergies in support of climate goals. Here we exchanged with the Peruvian Ministry’s Natural Protected Areas department (SERNANP) as well as the indigenous organisation ANECAP. Our next step: a letter asking the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development to include indigenous communities in their Municipal Climate Partnership programme.

Fridays for Future message

Olenka, the workshop’s youngest participant, was excited to learn about the Fridays for Future movement. Andreas Wolter’s explanation of how students in Cologne and across the world are striking for the climate inspired her to deliver her own video message, which we are happy to share.

“It is important that we all stand and fight together for the global climate and for the protection of the Amazon – the lung of our planet.”

– Olenka, Yanesha girl from Santa Rosa de Chuchurras, Selva Central, Peru

Third stop: Yarinacocha, Peru

Delegation tour Municipal Climate Partnership Cologne – Yarinacocha

Pucallpa – District Yarinacocha

Next we stopped in the Yarinacocha District of Peru, as part of Cologne, Germany’s Municipal Climate Partnership. What a welcome! The mayor of Yarinacocha Jerly Diaz Chota, city representatives, the partner organisation FECONAU and the entire indigenous community welcomed us with music and dance.

Exchange with indigenous youth  and the LGTB community

The inclusion of civil society and indigenous peoples is key to the success of the Cologne – Yarinacocha partnership. The Acitcjia Bekanwe youth organisation as well as the Ucayali Equality and Future movement (MOCIFU) each invited us to exchange on climate partnership ideas.

Climate action unites!

Shipibo community visit

We had the opportunity to visit the Shipibo community of San Salvador. The community  takes part in Cologne’s municipal climate partnership and can count on support in the fields of health care, economic development and infrastructure. Like many communities near urban areas, San Salvador no longer has any intact rainforest and lacks its own territory.

Indigenous women – community pillars     

The Shipibo are well known for their textile art. The designs symbolise their vision of the cosmos and their cultural identity. San Ken Xobo, and indigenous women’s cooperative for handicrafts, has already benefited from the Cologne climate partnership: representatives of the cooperative sold their goods at a Christmas market in Cologne last year and plans to develop an online marketing platform with the support of a school in Cologne are now underway.

Water and waste water

The lagoon of Yarinacocha may be the namesake of the Pucallpa district, but its waters are extremely polluted. There are almost no sewage treatment plants and the huge palm oil plantations in the region make the situation even worse. Through its climate partnership, Cologne is supporting the City of Yarinacocha and its action plan with both its knowledge and experience.

Renewable Energy for the University

During the tour, the mayors of Yarinacocha and Cologne commissioned Yarinacocha’s first solar plant on the roof of the local university with the university’s president. The pilot project consists of 20 panels (6.4 kW) and is a small, symbolic contribution  intended to raise awareness on renewable energies – amongst the professors, the students and the community. Read more in this Deutsche Welle article (in Spanish).

“Climate action means moving away from oil and coal and towards renewable energies – to protect the climate and the rainforests.”

– Andreas Wolter, Climate Alliance President and Mayor of Cologne.    

The forest and municipality of Alexander von Humboldt

To get a glimpse of ongoing efforts on the ground to preserve pieces of intact forest, the mayor of the municipality of Alexander von Humboldt invited the Climate Alliance delegation to the Humboldt forest. There we learned about a variety of initiatives that are a strong counter-movement to the countless acres of palm oil plantations in the area.

“Nature must be felt, who only sees and abstracts it, can […] dissect plants and animals, he will know how to describe nature, but he himself will be eternally alien to it”

– Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt

Fourth stop: Manaus, Brazil

Renewable Energy and Communities fair

As the final stop on our tour, we had the pleasure of participating in the first fair on renewables for communities in Amazonia with our partner and fair organiser ISA (Instituto Socioambiental). The focus of the fair was on energy strategies in the Amazon region and solutions for communities without access to the public power grid. Climate Alliance and Climate Alliance Austria participated with various activities and discussed new approaches with more than 400 participants from the Amazon region.

Among the highlights:

  • Climate Alliance exhibition with photo booth
  • Screening of the documentary, Heat, accompanied by a discussion with Almerinda Ramos of FOIRN and Johann Kandler of Climate Alliance Austria
  • Workshop on small scale solutions with COICA and Kara Solar

The presentation of the Kara Solar project was a special highlight. Kara Solar is a solar-powered boat that has been developed in collaboration with the indigenous Achuar people of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Adolfo Chávez of COICA helped present this pilot project as an important part of COICA’s energy strategy for the entire Amazon Basin. We support COICA in this strategy and also presented experiences from the long-standing solar lamp project in Peru.

“The fair is a good opportunity to exchange with others on renewable energy strategies for communities… We are delighted to be able to support COICA and its member organisations in these questions going forward.”

– Thomas Brose, Executive Director of Climate Alliance

Your Climate Alliance Network is hard at work in the fight for climate justice, both here in Europe and in the rainforests of the Amazon…

Want to find out more? Contact us!

Silke Lunnebach

  1. +49 69 717 139-32

Thomas Brose

  1. +49 69 717139-31
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