Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative

The birthplace of the Amazon River is vital to all of humanity and is under threat from expansion of oil drilling and mining and new roads that will change it forever. This region:

  • spans 74 million acres (30 million hectares),
  • is among the most biodiverse places on Earth
  • is home to nearly half a million Indigenous peoples from 20 different nationalities in Ecuador and Peru.

Join the indigenous and social movements who are increasingly united in their call for leaving fossil fuels and mineral resources in the ground and for fossil fuel divestment.



The Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative is building a shared vision among indigenous peoples, NGOs, the philanthropic community, social entrepreneurs and governments towards establishing a bi-national protected region – off-limits to industrial scale resource extraction, and governed in accordance with traditional indigenous principles of cooperation and harmony that foster a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship.

The Initiative is led by Amazonian indigenous federations CONFENIAE (Ecuador),  AIDESEP (Peru), ORPIO, and COICA, in partnership with Pachamama Alliance, Amazon Watch, Fundación Pachamama, and


During this early stage of the Initiative, priorities include:

  • Resisting expansion of extractive industries including oil and mining and related infrastructure in the region
  • Strong regional alliance of key stakeholders—indigenous peoples, governments, civil society—aligned around a shared vision for the protection of the Sacred Headwaters region
  • Completing a regional ecological economic plan for the Sacred Headwaters that is grounded in the principles of ecological stewardship and community well-being
  • Developing conservation funding solutions that advance protections for the living forests and halt expansion of large-scale extractive industries  

This Initiative offers an exceptional opportunity to create and demonstrate a new ecologic-economic model to usher in the post-carbon era – one that both safeguards the vital heart of our Earth’s biosphere and enhances human wellbeing.  


The Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative seeks to forge a new, post-carbon model for the region, off-limits to industrial-scale resource extraction and where fossil fuels are left in the ground.

The Initiative offers a multi-faceted strategy on climate change through working to:

  • Protect indigenous territories in the region that encompasses a continuous mosaic of 74 million acres (30 million hectares) of rainforest and contains some 3.8 billion metric tons of carbon (on average 66 metric tons of carbon/acre of forest).
  • Advance indigenous forest stewardship of these lands as the most effective strategy to protect the rainforest and avoid significant emissions from unchecked deforestation.
  • Forge a sustainable path that keeps undeveloped fossil fuel reserves in the ground, starting with the Sacred Headwaters. This would result in the avoidance of some 1.9 billion metric tons of C02 emissions.

We invite cooperation from the international community to fund and incentivize a just transition to a post-carbon economy, starting in the Sacred Headwaters of the Amazon.

Acres of rainforest to be protected

Metric tons of CO2 emissions to be avoided


If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about this Initiative, or you just want us to keep you informed of progress, please fill out the form below.

  • Share your interest in this initiative or additional info