A victory for Indigenous environmental activism in Ecuador
By Tristan Partridge
December 5, 2020
The community meeting house in San Isidro, in Ecuador’s central Andes, had been specially decorated for an important occasion. On the outside wall hung a large rainbow banner celebrating the regional Indigenous organization, MICC (Movimiento Indígena y Campesino de Cotopaxi). On the ground outside, an open fire crackled at the center of a ceremonial spiral of bright purple flowers. The occasion: a meeting with leaders from the national Indigenous Movement, CONAIE (Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador).
On the agenda: strategies for how Indigenous communities across the country can collaborate to protect sacred landscapes and defend collective rights – work that people in San Isidro have been engaged with for a long time. Two days later, on Friday 20 November, they celebrated a milestone in their campaign and an important victory for Indigenous environmental activism nationwide.
Following years of organizing and campaigning, the Regional Director of the national Ministry for the Environment & Water confirmed the community’s request: land that they own collectively is now formally recognized as a national Protected Hydrological Area (APH). This not only offers new levels of legal recourse, it also creates a model for other communities to follow — in the much-needed protection of unique ecosystems.