Recognition of Indigenous Territories in Amazonia is proceeding, but not at the pace the planet needs

  • April 15, 2024

New York City (USA), April 11, 2024 — Representatives of the Amazonia for Life coalition attending the 23rd session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (April 15-26, 2024) are eager to benchmark progress and accelerate action towards the protection of Indigenous Territories (ITs) in Amazonia as a measure to achieve 80% by 2025 to avert the region’s tipping point.

In 2023, and following IUCN Resolution 129, the UNPFII Twenty-Second Session released two regional resolutions related to the goal of protecting 80% of the Amazon by 2025 (80×2025) to avert a tipping point:

[18.] The Forum acknowledges the call to action by Brazil in response to the increasing degradation and deforestation of the Amazon rainforest which has pushed it to a tipping point and thereby endangering the livelihoods and territories of Indigenous Peoples, biodiversity, and aggravating the global climate crisis. The Permanent Forum supports Brazil’s proposal of protecting 80% of the Amazon as a step towards reaching zero deforestation and in securing Indigenous Peoples-led protection and conservation efforts. The Permanent Forum also supports the proposal for a dialogue among Member states in the region towards closing the gap of over 100 million hectares of Indigenous Peoples’ territories in the Amazon that still remains to be declared, recognized, and titled.

[19.] The Permanent Forum urges all the nine Amazonian States to legally recognize the ancestral territories of Indigenous Peoples, covering 100 million hectares, through the expansion, regulation and collective titling in meeting the target of protecting 80% of the Amazon by 2025. The Permanent Forum underscores that such actions are essential for ensuring immediate mitigation measures to stop the destruction of the Amazon.  The Permanent Forum invites the Amazonian States to inform the Permanent Forum at its 23rd session on the progress of these vital actions. 

In a letter sent to the Presidency of the Permanent Forum, Fany Kuiru, General Coordinator of the Coordinating Organization of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA) alerts: “The data reveal that, between 2021 and 2023, there was quite timid progress in the that the recognition of ITs refers (approximately 7 million hectares) which is the call of the UNPFII resolutions 2023 and the IUCN Resolution in 2021, however, reversing the point of no return in the Amazon requires a strong commitment by the States of which Indigenous peoples must be vigilant. The Amazon countries have not only not prioritized this task but with incongruent laws, they have buried the possibility of achieving systemic changes. The result is that the Amazon has been taken over by organized crime to destroy the natural resources of the Amazon with the complicity of some governments. The lack of guarantee of legal security of Indigenous territories by the States is complicit in the debacle in which the region is plunged. The UNPFII must become the entity that pressures the international community to defend the territorial rights of Indigenous peoples and the Amazon as a subject of law.”

Read the letter and report here.


How much progress has been made in 2021-2023?


  • Around 7 million hectares of ITs  were recognized, of which 76% correspond to already-recognized ITs that were expanded. Only 25% are newly-recognized ITs.  
  • About 75% of this growth happened in Peru, a country where 5.3 million hectares of ITs were recognized in this period, followed by Ecuador (8.80%), Brazil (8.33%), and Colombia (7.31%).  
  • The increase however, barely represents 1% of all Amazonia.
  • The recognition of ITs continues being at the core of the fight of many indigenous groups and nations in Amazonia, and in this period 6 nations comprised of 69 communities were finally recognized in Ecuador (Cofanes, Kichwas y Shuar territories) and Peru (Capanahua, Cocama-Cocamilla [Kukama-Kukamiria], and the Huambisa [Wampis] territories).

However, IT recognition has not stopped major trends of destruction in Amazonia, with oil infrastructure encroaching on unprotected Indigenous territories in Peru, fires in Bolivia and Brazil, and other phenomena that have led the region to its worst drought in 120 years and the expansion of illegal activities such as illegal mining, illegal logging and more extractives that threaten the ways of life of 511 Indigenous Peoples and nearly 50 million inhabitants in this region.

Globally, ITs represent about 22% of land surface but are home to 80% of the remaining biodiversity on the planet. In these territories live 500 million people, accounting for 6.2% of the global population. Yet, Indigenous Peoples receive less than 1% of climate finance as climate change and conservation policies have not uniformly recognized the role of Indigenous Peoples and their territories. The Amazonia and eight other key ecosystems are approaching or have already entered tipping points, and are now experiencing a kind of ecological metastasis and impacts will be felt globally.


Press contacts

Bryan Ludeña — COICA:  / +593 98 979 5277
Lays Ushirobira — / +34 685 20 05 91
Raúl Estrada — / +525580196422


About Amazonia for Life 

The Amazonia for Life is a coalition that calls for the protection of 80% of the Amazonia by 2025 to avert the tipping point in the largest carbon sink on the planet. The initiative was created in 2021 by COICA,, RAISG, AVAAZ, Amazon Watch, Wild Heritage, Re:Wild, One Earth, Earth Insight. It is endorsed by more than 1,200 organizations that signed the declaration of support for the goal and about 50 regional Indigenous organizations in the countries that make up the basin.


Led by the Confederation of Indigenous Organisations of the Amazon Basin (COICA), the initiative Amazonia for Life urges the international community and the 9 heads of State of the region to commit to protect 80% of the Amazonia by 2025, a vision outlined to reverse an imminent tipping point in the entire region that registers a combined deforestation and degradation of 26%. The initiative is currently supported by over 1,200 organizations worldwide, 50 Indigenous organizations. 

The report Amazonia Against the Clock identifies where and how to safeguard priority areas, home to more than 500 Indigenous Peoples and 50 million inhabitants.  The Initiative’s declaration details 13 policies, plus 10 urgent actions defined in Leticia (Colombia) that make up a Global Pact to protect 80% of this region by 2025.

Including Indigenous and ancestral territories in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) represents a historical milestone to achieve global targets. So far, only protected areas and “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECM) were considered in the global conservation debate.


  • In 151 years, protected areas have expanded to cover approximately 17% of the globe and are maintained mainly with billions of dollars from national budgets. There is a high risk that the expansion of protected areas to achieve 30% by 2030 could happen at the expense of Indigenous Territories.

  • The difference between protected areas, OECMs, and Indigenous Territories is fundamental. While the first two categories are created by law or decree, Indigenous territories are pre-existing to the states, and are home to Indigenous peoples with their own governance structure, culture, language, and indigenous knowledge systems, and, the sum of all of these characteristics have maintained key ecosystems on the planet throughout millennia.

  • The goal of an Indigenous Territory is not conservation as we define it in a Western context. Rather, conservation on Indigenous territories is the result of all the elements described above that respond to the rights recognized in international agreements such as the ILO Convention No. 169 (1989) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).