COLLECTIVE SOCIAL INNOVATOR OF THE YEAR 2024

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The Amazon Sacred Headwaters Alliance is a proud recipient of the 2024 Schwab Foundation Social Innovation Award. In partnership with the World Economic Forum, the Schwab Foundation recognizes social innovators solving complex problems that cannot be tackled by individuals.

ABOUT THE AMAZON SACRED

HEADWATERS ALLIANCE

We are an Alliance of 30 Indigenous nations in Ecuador and Peru with a shared vision to permanently protect 86 million acres of bio-culturally diverse tropical rainforests (an area larger than Italy) in the headwaters of the mighty Amazon River, in the Napo, Pastaza, and Marañon River Basins.

Formed in 2017, our Alliance is seeking to protect our rainforest territories, united by the common understanding that we all belong to an interconnected web of rivers and forests, and that we are all kin. When we unite, we can better protect our lands and our rights. 

Initially founded by Amazonian Indigenous federations CONFENIAE (Ecuador),  AIDESEP (Peru), ORPIO, and COICA, in partnership with Pachamama Alliance and Fundación Pachamama, our Alliance has now grown to include 24 Indigenous organizations and three NGOs.

THE AMAZON AT A TIPPING POINT

The Amazon Headwaters, home to Earth’s largest rainforest, 500+ Indigenous nations and unparalleled biodiversity, is reaching an ecological tipping point of no return. Forest and biodiversity loss continue as a result of extractive pursuits carried out in the name of development such as mining, oil drilling, logging and industrial agriculture.

The Amazon rainforest generates atmospheric rivers essential for the circulation of rainfall around the planet while sequestering carbon, cooling and stabilizing the global climate. Scientists warn that the Amazon’s hydrological system is unraveling due to deforestation, which will trigger a massive forest dieback within decades unless we move urgently to protect and restore 80 percent of the Amazon’s forest cover.

PROTECTING THE CLIMATE

The Amazon Sacred Headwaters Alliance’s mission is to permanently protect this bioregion from further industrial-scale resource extraction, and to promote a just transition to a wellbeing bioeconomy.

Our priorities and multifaceted strategy include: 

    • Advocacy and legal campaigns to defend Indigenous rights and the rights of nature
    • Legal recognition of 22 million acres of Indigenous land claims 
    • Restoration of 20 million acres of degraded forests and ecosystems
    • Scaling the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Fund for strategic programs in indigenous territories including territorial monitoring and governance, food security, sustainable livelihoods, inter-cultural health and education, and renewable energy, among others
    • Pilot Reforestation Project 
    • The Living Amazon School (EVA) training the next generation of Indigenous youth leaders
    • Systemic solutions (canceling debt, wellbeing indicators, universal basic income, bioeconomy hubs, compensation mechanisms)

Acres of rainforest to be protected

Metric tons of CO2 emissions to be avoided

We invite NGOs, the philanthropic community, social entrepreneurs and governments to join us.

INDIGENOUS-LED FOREST PROTECTION AT SCALE

The Indigenous nations whose territories comprise the majority of the Amazon Sacred Headwaters bioregion are seeking to permanently protect and restore the bioregion, declaring the entire region as off-limits to further industrial-scale resource extraction. We are seeking to shift the dominant economic paradigm from the current “life-blind” economy to a regenerative standing forest bioeconomy, centered on the rights and well-being of communities, as well as the ecological health of the entire bioregion.   

Our Alliance has undertaken a 3.5 year participatory process of building a shared long-term vision outlined in the Bioregional Plan 2030, a ‘living’ blueprint for a just ecological and economic transition (an Amazon Green New Deal), with solution pathways inspired by Indigenous stewardship visions and practices and rooted in principles of ‘Buen Vivir’ (Collective Well-being). 

The bioregional plan seeks to address five shared bioregional objectives: improving living conditions, advancing Indigenous rights and territorial governance, stopping deforestation and degradation, conserving forests and restoring degraded areas, and stopping the advancement of extractive industries. 

THE ALLIANCE’S GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE

Since 2017, our Alliance has grown to 27 member organizations, of which 24 are Indigenous organizations. Our governance structure has been evolving to ensure ample transparency, sound governance and meaningful participation by member organizations.

The Amazon Sacred Headwaters Alliance’s work is facilitated by a Technical Secretariat. The Secretariat provides technical, financial management, and administrative support to the Alliance and coordinates various working groups focused on planning, fundraising, project implementation, evaluation, and advocacy. The Alliance is further guided by a council of Indigenous wisdom keepers and a global commission of experts


Since its inception, the Technical Secretariat has been housed at Fundación Pachamama.  In 2023 the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Alliance embarked on the next chapter and began a process of transitioning its operations to a new Indigenous-led nonprofit entity legally incorporated in Ecuador, under its Spanish name “Alianza Cuencas Sagradas Amazónicas”.  The newly incorporated Alliance is governed by the General Assembly of Members, which is composed of representatives of the 27 member organizations. The General Assembly will meet in person twice a year to make decisions about strategic priorities.

The Amazon Sacred Headwaters Alliance is a proud recipient of the 2024 Schwab Foundation Social Innovation Award. In partnership with the World Economic Forum, the Schwab Foundation recognizes social innovators solving complex problems that cannot be tackled by individuals. 

Please visit cuencasagradas.org, the Alliance’s regional website, for our latest updates.

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