COP27 must create a climate agreement that protects 80% of the Amazon by 2025, Indigenous leaders, researchers and environmental organizations urge

  • June 29, 2023

Without the protection of this precious carbon sink, any agreement that seeks to keep the planet’s temperature below 1.5 ° C degrees will be insufficient.

(Note: Read here in Portuguese and Spanish.)

Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt—(November 7, 2022). The Amazonia, the largest global carbon sink, is at a critical tipping point due to the high rates of deforestation and degradation that already affect 26% of the region, which scientists and Indigenous peoples say could trigger a process of savannization of the entire system.

Amazonian Indigenous leaders, researchers, and representatives of environmental organizations from the nine countries, presented new scientific evidence included in the report “Amazonia against the Clock”, which identifies Key Priority Areas, where the degradation and transformation occurs at the country level, as well as its drivers.  Furthermore, it outlines the immediate needs and solutions to address the crisis in the Amazonia as an urgent measure to curb the effects of climate change.  The report concludes that Brazil is the epicenter of the greatest degradation and deforestation, causing already a tipping point in the southeast of the region.

According to the report, achieving 80% is still feasible by 2025.  The remaining 74% (629 million hectares in priority areas) is still standing and requires immediate protection and 6% of the region can still be restored.  

Indigenous leaders also highlighted the relationship between ecosystem loss and conflict in the region where violence; assassinations of indigenous leaders and environmental defenders, as well as climate, biodiversity, social, economic, and political distress must be understood as symptoms of one problem. They call on world leaders gathered at COP27 to establish a global agreement to protect 80% of this region before 2025.

José Gregorio Díaz Mirabal, General Coordinator of COICA, said: “This report compellingly addresses the current state of the Amazonia and outlines the symbiosis between threats to ecosystems and Indigenous peoples in nine countries. There is a direct correlation between the destruction of our habitat and the assassination of Indigenous leaders, defenders of our territories. We have corroborated that the recognition of the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin is an urgent solution to safeguard 80% of the Amazonia. We must act together, and we must do it before 2025. Anything less would be too little too late. We have entered the danger zone,” added the Indigenous leader.”

Key data:

  • Combined deforestation and degradation has reached 26% of the region – the Amazonia is under a dangerous transformation process.  The countries with the highest rates of combined deforestation and degradation are: Brazil: 34%, Bolivia: 24%, Ecuador: 16%, Colombia: 14%, Peru: 20%.
  • The savannization process is already a reality in the southeast of the region, mainly in Brazil and Bolivia that are responsible for 90% of the deforestation and degradation of the entire Amazonia.  Invasions are the main cause of destruction in both countries.
  • 66% of the Amazonia is subject to some type of fixed or permanent pressure: agriculture, oil , mining and more than 800 planned and operating hydroelectric plants, among others.
  • 84% of deforestation in the Amazonia is caused by the agricultural sector
    • Most transformation occurred in undesignated areas beyond Indigenous Territories and/or protected areas.
    • Deforestation caused by cattle ranching in the Amazon rainforest accounts for nearly 2% of global CO2 emissions annually.
    • Brazil is a leader in the global livestock industry, with the largest cattle herd in the world (215 million animals).
  • Indigenous leaders have offered 13 solutions to protect 80% by 2025, including:
    • The recognition of 100 million hectares of Indigenous Territories (IT) and a management model where budgets for IT are guaranteed.
    • Moratoria on 255 million hectares of undesignated Key Priority Areas that cover intact forests and low-degradation ecosystems.
    • The implementation of a co-governance model for the management of non-designated areas.
    • A conditioned debt forgiveness to safeguard 255 million hectares of intact ecosystems that are at imminent risk — the panel highlighted the economic restrictions of the national budgets. Debt average 78% of the regional GDP of Latin America, and total debt service alone represents 59% of its exports of goods and services. This reality leads governments to overexploit natural resources of the Amazonia.

Reactions by other Indigenous leaders and members of the Amazonia for Life: protect 80% by 2025 Initiative:

Harol Rincón Ipuchima, Coordinator of Climate Change and Biodiversity of COICA, says: “Talking about climate change without addressing the destruction of the Amazonia is jarring. Science now recognizes that Indigenous peoples have historically curbed the engines of deforestation and biodiversity loss in our territories as our ancestors taught us. It is imperative to recognize 100 million hectares of indigenous territories in the Amazonia basin and the immediate protection of 255 million hectares of undesignated intact and slightly degraded ecosystems vital to safeguard at least 80% of Amazonia.”

Tzeporah Berman, International Programs Director at, says: “Preserving 80% of the Amazonia by 2025 depends on the knowledge systems of the Indigenous peoples who inhabit these territories and a transformative global financial strategy.  Supply chains of industrialized countries fueled by global banks must hold accountable for the current destruction.  BNP Paribas commitment to adopt a geographical exclusion of oil and gas for the entire region shows policy makers how close we are to solutions.  At COP27, we expect global leaders to guarantee the resources to bend the current curve and to mitigate the financial crisis of Amazonian nations with a Conditioned Debt Forgiveness.”

Researcher Harlem Mariño Saavedra, of Instituto del Bien Común/Perú – RAISG, says: “One of the main findings of this research is that guaranteeing the rights of Indigenous peoples enables the protection and recovery of biodiversity. We have shown that titling Indigenous territories and allocating protected areas is a highly successful way to prevent deforestation and rainforest degradation. The climate crisis, however, forces us to think about co-governance management models.”

Oscar Soria, Campaign Director at Avaaz, said: “The Amazonia is being eaten alive. Emergency measures must be taken to avoid a tipping point of no return, including the protection of 80% by 2025. At the COP 27, Parties should ensure that the COP and CMA overarching decisions call for the achievement of this goal, and protect a precious carbon sink that helps regulate the global climate. Without the Amazonia, there’s no credible path to staying below 1.5ºC”.

Leila Salazar, Executive Director of Amazon Watch, said: “With the ecosystems also die defenders and, with them, the knowledge to preserve this immense forest for future generations. Without consultation and without consent, we speak of systemic violence. Latin America is the most violent region on the planet and the Amazonia is where much of this scourge happens. The time has come to act firmly and in solidarity.”

Tuntiak Katán, Vice Coordinator of COICA, explained: “The foreign debt of Amazonian countries must be understood as a systemic driver and fuel for extractive activities throughout the region. We propose a conditioned debt forgiveness as an immediate protective measure to alleviate the economic challenges facing our countries towards protecting 80 percent of the Amazonia. Industrialized countries and international financial institutions should take responsibility for safeguarding the planet, stopping climate change, and alleviating the pressure on the Amazon with the leadership of the Amazonian countries.”

About the Amazonia for Life: protect 80% by 2025 Initiative

The “Amazonia for Life Initiative” calls for the protection of 80% of the Amazonia by 2025 to avert the “tipping point” in the largest carbon sink for the planet. Indigenous leaders have offered 13 solutions to tackle the tipping point, highlighting four measures: 1. the recognition of at least 100 million hectares of Indigenous Territories and budget allocations for their management; 2. immediate moratoria to safeguard intact ecosystems and those with low degradation while a permanent measure replaces them; 3. an inclusive model of co-governance that includes protected areas and; 4. a proposal for a conditioned debt forgiveness for the Amazonian countries. The initiative is supported by, Avaaz, Amazon Watch, RAISG, Wild Heritage, and over 900 organizations who signed the declaration supporting the goal.

Press contacts:

Bryan Ludeña – COICA: / +593 98 979 5277
Alicia Guzmán – +593 98 641 5612
Raul Estrada- / +525580196422