As part of the Flourishing Diversity Series, Lawyers Against Poverty hosted a Listening Session regarding indigenous land rights at Simmons & Simmons on 11 September 2019.
The Flourishing Diversity Series
The Flourishing Diversity Series provided a unique opportunity to listen, learn, and communicate with indigenous leaders from across the world. Wisdom traditions might hold many of the answers to our most pressing problems concerning the climate crisis and environmental protection. This series invited delegates to consider these traditions on a global-scale and reflect on what we may learn from deep-rooted wisdom whilst building collaboration and helping us to consider how to better live in harmony with the delicate systems of this planet, our only home.
Speakers: the Ashaninka and the Guarani
The Brazilian Ashaninka from Apiwtxa replanted one million trees following recovery of the previously invaded/deforested areas of their indigenous territory. But they then made an unprecedented move – with the help of donors,they purchased degraded lands inside an urban environment in a township outside their traditional lands. There, they created Yorenka Ãtame, “The Wisdom of the Forest” Centre: an agro-forestry project which led to the planting of another million trees. Yorenka Ãtame hosts indigenous and non-indigenous peoples for cultural festivals and knowledge exchanges on environmental restoration and has won the United Nation’s Human Rights Prize as well as the Equator Initiative.
Setting an example for the local Brazilians, they also sought to enrol the town’s abandoned youth, supposedly lost to drugs and petty crime, into the Centre to learn agro-forestry. This led to a Youth Association which purchased other degraded lands to donate to the association, eventually transforming the youth from former “delinquents” into agro-foresters and landowners.
Benki Pyãnko is an ambassador of a paradigm change in cultural, environmental and peace activism. His brother Moisés Piyãko is a great leader and shaman from Apiwtxa village. Together they will come to share their history and learnings with the audience.
The Guarani inhabit the last remaining forest galleries of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. Their indigenous territories are on the frontline of defence against the rapacious expansion of industrial agricultural monocultures. Brazil’s Atlantic Forest has lost 92% of its forest cover but through partnerships with other Guarani, the Ashaninka and local organisations, the Guarani of Brazil are regenerating forests, replanting lost species and defending biodiverse land from industrial expansion. In 2018 they won the Newton Prize for this work.
The event was attended by more than 125 guests including VIP ‘Listeners’ Benedict Cumberbatch, Sophie Hunter-Cumberbatch and Livia Firth. The indigenous leaders gave the audience a moving account of their struggles to retain and protect their lands.
Photo credits: Flourishing Diversity