This month, we are sharing the insights we’ve learned through 20 years of partnership with the indigenous people of the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest. Most importantly, we’ve learned that what happens in the Amazon affects all life on Earth. Our fates are interconnected—we are all the Amazon.
Today’s message is from Pachamama Alliance co-founder and CEO Bill Twist, with an update on the organization that executes all of our work in Ecuador and has facilitated this critical relationship with our indigenous partners for over 20 years, Fundación Pachamama.
As you may know, since 1997, our work in Ecuador has been carried out through our sister organization based in Quito, Ecuador—Fundación Pachamama—led by Director, Belén Paez. In partnership with the indigenous nations of the Amazon rainforest, we have managed to protect millions of acres of pristine rainforest from oil and other extractive industries.
Fundación Pachamama was officially closed by the Ecuadorian government in late 2013 after indigenous protests against plans to open some 2.6 million hectares of rainforest to new oil drilling, through an auction called the XIth Oil Round. That auction was a failure and out of frustration, Ecuador’s President at the time, Rafael Correa, falsely accused Fundación Pachamama of fomenting violence during a demonstration on the day the oil bids. He used that as justification for closing Fundación Pachamama.
Though the closing was a setback, the work of Fundación Pachamama was not interrupted. Despite the government's action, Belén and her team continued with their core work of supporting indigenous organizations—strengthening their ability to make their voices heard in their efforts to protect their lands and cultures.
After a change in the Presidency of Ecuador in 2017 and an opening to work more closely with civil society organizations, Fundación Pachamama’s charter as an official NGO was re-established and the organization formally re-opened its doors this past October.
In addition to core support for the indigenous federations, Fundación Pachamama now also has an increased focus on providing support to community-based activities that contribute to alternative economic development in the region, including:
- Indigenous run ecotourism projects like Kapawi and Naku ecolodges
- Handicrafts with women
- Medicinal plants production
- Agroforestry and fish farming
- Solar electric river transportation
They are working In collaboration with the government of Ecuador to support policies that protect the rainforest. Fundación Pachamama is also playing a large role in collaborating between our indigenous partners, NGOs, and the government to create better policies for climate change, indigenous rights, and to reduce deforestation.
Pachamama Alliance Co-Founder and CEO