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Podcast: New Latin American treaty could help protect women conservation leaders — and all environment defenders

  • On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, we once again highlight the work of women leaders in Amazon conservation, and look at an international agreement that could help protect environmental defenders in Latin America — one of the most dangerous places in the world to be an environmental activist, especially as a woman.
  • We speak with Osprey Orielle Lake, founder and executive director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, or WECAN International, who tells us about some of the most inspiring women she’s worked with who are fighting to protect their communities and their forests in the Amazon, and discusses the groundbreaking Escazu Agreement, which would help protect defenders of the environment across Latin America.
  • We also speak with Nicolas Bustamante Hernandez, a contributor to Mongabay who recently profiled an ornithologist and activist in Colombia named Yehimi Fajardo. Bustamente Hernandez tells us how, via the Alas Association she helped establish, Fajardo’s work has led hundreds of Indigenous children in Colombia’s Putumayo department to become avid birders, able to recognize the songs of birds in the region and to more fully appreciate the important role birds play in the local ecosystem.

On today’s episode of the Mongabay Newscast we’re shining a spotlight once again on women who are leading Amazon conservation — as well as a new international treaty that would help protect all environmental defenders in Latin America, especially the women leaders who face particularly violent threats for speaking out.

Listen here:

This is part two of a series we started back on September 2nd, when we featured the Women Warriors of the Forest, an all-female Indigenous group protecting the forests they call home in Brazil, and spoke with Dr. Dolors Armenteras, a pioneer in the use of remote sensing to monitor forests and biodiversity and a leading forest fire expert in Colombia. Today, we’re looking at the work of more women who are leading the charge to protect the Amazon rainforest, the largest tropical forest in the world.

We speak with Osprey Orielle Lake, founder and executive director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN International), through which Lake works with women leaders on the frontlines of environmental protection around the world. Lake tells us about some of the inspiring women she’s worked with who are fighting to protect their communities and their forests in the Amazon, and discusses the groundbreaking Escazu Agreement, which would help protect environmental land defenders across Latin America.

Here’s further reading on some of the women leaders Lake discusses:

Ecuador: Sarayaku leader Patricia Gualinga defends territory despite threats
Brazilian elections and the environment: where top candidates stand
TIME’s list of 100 most influential people in 2020 includes Indigenous Waorani leader

We also speak with Nicolas Bustamante Hernandez, a contributor to Mongabay who recently profiled an ornithologist and activist in Colombia named Yehimi Fajardo. Bustamante Hernandez tells us how, via the Alas Association she helped establish, Fajardo’s work has led hundreds of Indigenous children in Colombia’s Putumayo department to become avid birders, able to recognize the songs of birds in the region and to more fully appreciate the important role birds play in the local ecosystem.

“I think it is very important for us, for journalists, to keep track of those low-profile leaders, because they are doing a very important job to protect what we don’t see, but what we need,” Bustamante Hernandez says. “Colombia has around 2,000 species of birds and most of those are in the Amazon, so we need more and more people like Yehimi to protect not only birds but all the biodiversity. They are doing this job and they don’t expect [anything] in exchange for it, they just want to help their communities.”

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Patricia Gualinga of the Pueblo Kichwa de Sarayaku, an Indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Amazon, is “a phenomenal leader in every aspect,” according to Osprey Orielle Lake. Photo courtesy of Patricia Gualinga.
Nemonte Nenquimo, Waorani leader of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Photo by Mitch Anderson / Amazon Frontlines.

Follow Mike Gaworecki on Twitter: @mikeg2001

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