“You can’t learn to hunt from a book. You have to go out into the forest with your father or your grandfather and learn by observing, learn by doing. For our leaders to learn the laws, they have to do the same.”
Mauricio, Kofan elder.

The Situation

The Waorani, Secoya, Siona and Kofan, without recourse to first-hand legal knowledge and in the absence of viable legal representation, have seen detrimental environmental violations go unchecked, illegal settlements on ancestral lands proliferate, negotiations with the government result in superficial or illusory concessions, and indigenous representatives sign misleading and exploitative industry contracts without free, prior, and informed consent.

The Vision

We are creating spaces for leaders and youth from these indigenous nations to construct together a shared understanding of the threats facing their communities, the causes of these threats, and to build collective knowledge around how to create legal and advocacy strategies that directly address the unique challenges faced by each community. Our legal team then accompanies the Indigenous Rights Defenders and their communities in actions to defend and to recover their ancestral rainforest territories.

“The law is like a machete: even if you have one, it won’t cut the weeds if you just leave it lying around in the garden; we have to learn how to use the law in order for it to be an effective tool for the defense of our nations and territories.”
Oswando Nenquimo, Waorani Indigenous Rights Defender.

We cannot protect the climate or stop the extinction crisis if we don’t protect the Amazon rainforest.