the opportunity has never been greater

“They are killing our rivers, our sources of life, and now they have set ourn reserve on fire. Tomorrow we are closing the roads and I want all the media here to see this.”                                                                                                                                                                              Pataxo woman, Brazil

The Amazon. A vast forest full of water, diverse life and mystery. A place where people, environment and economic industry converge in a dramatic saga. A place where crucial ecosystem services like freshwater, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and cultural livelihood are caught in the crossfire of human “development.” For the residents of this place, the forests are more than operationally important, they are relatives.

The Achuar and Waorani families with whom we work have vehemently opposed oil exploitation in their territories. Economic development at the cost of their environment is not an option for them–and furthermore is a violation of their constitutional rights.

Indigenous people are keepers of the majority of the world’s cultural diversity–speaking 96% of known languages—half of which are predicted to go extinct this century. Many languages are no longer being taught to living descendants. The loss of indigenous language and culture caused the United Nations to name this year the International Year of Indigenous Languages.

Dramatic transformations are occurring from one generation to the next leaving many questions about how to plot the best path forward. Through knowledge and cultural exchange, perspective taking, and empathy generation for diverse livelihoods, we converse with our indigenous friends about what sustainability looks like in the age of globalization for them.