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Guardians of the Amazon

Global Goals & Global Society
Guardians of the Amazon

In the heart of the Amazon rainforest, Nixon Andy Narváez, a young member of the Indigenous A’i Kofán of Sinangoe community, has emerged as a hero in the fight against deforestation. Like his ancestors before him, Narváez has taken up the mantle as a guardian of the forest, employing innovative technologies such as drones and solar-powered camera traps to combat illegal logging and preserve the biodiversity of the Amazon. His efforts align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and embody the vision of the global society for a sustainable and ecologically balanced future.

Indigenous guardians: Protectors of the forest

Indigenous guardians, comprised mostly of young men and women, play a pivotal role in monitoring the Amazon to prevent invasions and illegal activities. For Indigenous communities, safeguarding nature and biodiversity is not only a way of life but also a crucial strategy for combating deforestation and the detrimental effects of extractive industries on climate change. These guardians, rooted in ancestral knowledge and a deep connection with the natural world, have become frontline defenders of the Amazon rainforest, preserving its ecological balance and protecting the planet.

Narváez's commitment to protecting his community's territory began when he joined the A’i Kofán de Sinangoe Indigenous guard in 2016. Recognizing the urgent need to safeguard their ancestral lands, the community enacted the Law of Control and Protection of the A’i Kofán Ancestral Land of Sinangoe in 2017. This legislation aimed to establish a system of control and surveillance to combat illegal activities within their territory.

A technological revolution

In 2017, a transformative shift occurred in the Sinangoe community with the introduction of technology. With the support of organizations such as Amazon Frontlines and the Indigenous-led Ceibo Alliance, community members gained access to tools such as drones, camera traps, and georeferencing technology. Solar panels were also installed to power these devices in remote areas, enabling the Indigenous guards to monitor their lands more effectively, even during the night.

The impact of technology

For Narváez and his fellow guardians, the introduction of technology proved to be a game-changer. By utilizing satellite images from platforms like Global Forest Watch and MapBiomas, the Indigenous guards could monitor changes to the Amazon rainforest spanning several decades. Armed with this knowledge, they became empowered to protect their ancestral lands and the environment for future generations.

Uncovering violations and taking action

The use of technology enabled Narváez and his community to uncover violations and take decisive action against those threatening their lands. During a drone surveillance operation in 2018, the Indigenous guard of Sinangoe discovered excavators encroaching upon the Aguarico River, a vital lifeline of their territory. The guards' investigation revealed that the Ecuadorian state had violated their right to self-determination by granting mining concessions on their land without prior consultation.

Motivated by future generations

The threat of a bleak future motivated Narváez and his companions to take a stand against the government's actions. They successfully challenged the mining concessions in court, safeguarding their territory and setting a precedent for other communities whose rights had been similarly violated. This landmark ruling by Ecuador's Constitutional Court represents a significant step forward in the fight for the self-determination rights of Indigenous peoples and the rights of nature.

Technological tools: Allies in the fight

While technology has undoubtedly played a critical role in the guardians' efforts, Narváez emphasizes that the true defenders of the environment are the Indigenous communities themselves. His unwavering commitment to defending his community's territory and the environment has led him to focus on passing on these technological tools to other communities. By doing so, he hopes to ensure that future generations can continue the fight against deforestation and preserve the Amazon's invaluable biodiversity.

Inspiring a sustainable global society

Nixon Andy Narváez's story of courage, resilience, and determination serves as an inspiration to people around the world. His tireless efforts align closely with the SDGs, particularly those related to environmental preservation (SDG 15 - Life on Land) and partnerships for the goals (SDG 17). By harnessing technology and indigenous wisdom, Narváez exemplifies the vision of a global society working together to achieve a sustainable and ecologically balanced future.

As the Amazon rainforest faces increasing threats from deforestation and extractive industries, the role of Indigenous guardians like Nixon Andy Narváez becomes more critical than ever. By combining their ancestral knowledge with innovative technologies, they are at the forefront of the battle to protect the planet's most vital ecosystems. Narváez's dedication to his community, future generations, and the preservation of the Amazon rainforest makes him a true hero for the SDGs and a beacon of hope for a sustainable global society.


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