WITNESS and 10 coalition partners receive funding to stop Amazon deforestation

WITNESS, together with an international coalition of indigenous, environmental, and human rights groups, is launching a new campaign to end deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. This program, entitled “All Eyes on the Amazon,” has been made possible thanks to a 14.8 million Euro contribution from the Dutch National Postcode Lottery’s Dream Fund. It will combine modern technologies such as drones, mobile phones, and satellites with the centuries-old knowledge of the indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon. This contribution was announced at the Postcode Lottery’s 2017 Goed Geld Gala (“Good Money Gala”) charity awards, held in Amsterdam on February 6.

Exceptional coalition

All Eyes on the Amazon will be run and implemented by a coalition of eleven environmental and human rights groups and local community groups. In addition to WITNESS, this includes the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations in the Amazon Basin (COICA), Hivos, Greenpeace Netherlands, the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Digital Democracy, the World Resources Institute, the University of Maryland, INTERPOL LEAF, Both ENDS, and ARTICLE 19. The Dutch National Postcode Lottery funds the program.

WITNESS brings 25 years of experience supporting activists and marginalized communities to use the power of visual media and technology to amplify important stories and catalyze campaigns for change.

WITNESS will train local Amazonian communities to safely use video documentation to report on any illegal deforestation activities and, in turn, protect traditional lands and indigenous rights. This support will enable communities to provide valuable evidence to forest rangers, investigators, and courts in an effort to hold the parties responsible for deforestation accountable. WITNESS will also support the creation of a database whereby communities can share videos with one another and via social media to inform activists, advocates, and concerned citizens worldwide of destructive activities in the Amazon rainforest.

“With communications technologies in the hands of people in even the remotest corners of the world, more people have the power to expose the truth. This coalition will support traditional communities in the Amazon to harness those tools to collect evidence that can secure justice and save their lands – and in turn, protect us all,” said Kelly Matheson, Senior Attorney & Program Manager at WITNESS.

Exposure and accountability

At the same time, the international supply chains running from the Amazon all the way to retail outlets will be exposed. “To companies, investors, and governments that destroy the forest we say: ‘We see you, we will follow you, and we will bring you publicly to account,’” said Joris Thijssen, Director of Greenpeace Netherlands. “The more indifferent the new Brazilian government becomes toward the environment and the rights of those who live in the Amazon, the more determined we will be to protect them.”

Hope for the Amazon

Quick action is needed because in the Amazon, both people and the environment are under more pressure than ever before. The hunt for the last natural resources, such as wood, oil, minerals and precious metals, is an enormous threat to our planet. More and more scientific studies show that indigenous communities living in rainforests are crucial to the sustainable protection of these areas. However, they often lack the tools, knowledge, and contacts to defend their rights and the environment effectively. The All Eyes on the Amazon program is going to change that, thanks to the support of the Dutch National Postcode Lottery.

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Contact: For more information and interview requests, please contact: Matisse Bustos-Hawkes at matisse@witness.org

Kelly Matheson, Senior Attorney & Program Manager at WITNESS, is available for interviews throughout the week of February 6. Additional partner organization representatives are also available for interview.

Photo credit: Augusto Escribens. Other high-resolution images are also available for publicity purposes.

WITNESS (witness.org) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to making it possible for anyone, anywhere to use video and technology to protect and defend human rights.



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