An Urgent Call to Protect the Amazon

Tara C. Trapani

A few weeks ago at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago, an important plenary session was held titled “An Urgent Call to Protect the Amazon: An Interfaith Rainforest Initiative Dialogue with Indigenous Peoples.” The event was facilitated by the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, which aims to be seen as “a shared platform for religious leaders to work shoulder to shoulder with indigenous peoples to protect forests and the rights of forest guardians.” 

From the session description:
Committed to fostering a new kind of relationship between religious leaders and indigenous peoples to advance the protection of the world’s rainforests, the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative (IRI) facilitated a high-level dialogue with indigenous leaders from across the Amazon Basin at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions. The event featured several of the Amazon’s most prominent indigenous leaders and drew links between the sacred wisdom and cosmologies of indigenous peoples, the challenges indigenous peoples face in protecting their lives and territories, as well as the shared moral responsibility across faiths for the long-term protection of the world’s forests and indigenous peoples rights.

You can read the full text of that historic call that came out of that session, as well as view the video of the full Parliament session, below. 

An Urgent Call to Protect the Amazon
We, leaders gathered for the Parliament of the World’s Religions, offer this urgent call to action for the Amazon and the indigenous peoples and traditional communities who serve as its guardians.

We do so in solidarity with the indigenous peoples and traditional communities who call the Amazon home and who are at the forefront of efforts to protect their lands and territories, and informed by the scientific and research community warning of the dire consequences of the continued destruction and degradation of the Amazon;

Recognizing that the Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest, with the richest biodiversity on the planet, and home to some 30 million people and over 400 indigenous peoples;

Knowing that halting and reversing destruction of the Amazon is essential to contain the climate and biodiversity crises that threaten our planet;

Understanding that protection of the Amazon requires the protection of indigenous peoples, respect for their cultures, traditions and spiritualities, and legal security of their lands and territories; and Acknowledging that we have a viable platform for action on these issues in the Interfaith Rainforest Initiative, and recognizing the recent call made by this partnership at the Amazon Summit;

We commit to take action to:
Raise awareness and promote teaching about the seriousness of deforestation and the spiritual imperative and urgency of acting to protect forests and the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon; Assist our respective places of worship, communities and organizations to take action, to bring our networks to bear to encourage deforestation-free lifestyles and business practices
Advocate for governments and public authorities of the Amazon to commit to zero deforestation by 2030 and prevent threats to indigenous and environmental defenders; and
Advocate for governments and foundations of industrialized countries to mobilize the financial resources and investment that is needed to realize the vision of a healthy Amazon.

We share a conviction that our voices, spiritual resources and common commitment can bring new and needed urgency to the critically important work of protecting the Amazon and its guardians over the long term, and place ourselves at the disposal of achieving that goal.

Parliament of the World's Religions–Chicago 2023
August 16, 2023