FOREST DEFENDERS CONFERENCE
Pará, Brazil, 2019
“Nossa luta não tem fronteiras” / “Our fight has no borders"
Frontline defenders who are risking their lives to protect forests, land, and water, united to share our stories and our strategies meeting together in the heart of the struggle, Pará, Amazonia, Brazil.
15 countries represented
10 Indigenous Peoples and Quilombolas
30 Social Movements and Organisations
The 3rd International Forest Defenders Conference refuses to abide by the borders put in place to divide us.
This week we are honoured, hopeful and heartbroken, hearing the stories of frontline defenders at the 3rd International Forest Defenders Conference in Pará.
The gathering was led by grassroots organisations, themselves at the frontline in defending lands and forests in Brazil. Our organising team was all women, and composed entirely of volunteers working with a small stipend. Not1More is proud to have this year partnered with: Zé Cláudio and Maria Foundation, Pastoral Land Commission, Bem-te-vi Diversity Association, Federal University of South and Southeastern Pará, University of Sussex, University of Oxford, Federal University of Bahia, Cabanagem Foundation, and EarthRights International – an incredible organising team. The conference organisation was supported locally by the Landless Workers Movement (MST), the Movement of People Affected by Mining (MAM), the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) and CIMI (the Indigenous Mission Counsel).
For three days, we held a closed workshop in a secure environment with protection from the Landless Workers Movement, (MST), creating a safe space for people to share their stories. We held security trainings with an approach of integrated care developed by the Escola de Ativismo (Activism School) which is a holistic approach including psycho-social support, and digital, physical and collective security. The Pastoral Land Commission, EarthRights International and the Centre for Climate Crimes Analysis led a legal workshop and a mock trial – an insightful and fun opportunity to take on the role of state lawyers, Indigenous plaintiffs, judges and company representatives. Raphael Mimoun, founder of Horizontal, and Mary Menton, University of Sussex, introduced the conference participants to TELLA, a mobile app designed by Horizontal which provides a secure, locally-owned system to gather evidence about human rights violations. The engagement and excitement in the room was palpable.
On the fourth day, we held an open event. We were delighted to welcome Joênia Wapichana, first Indigenous woman to be elected to the Congress in Brazil, as our keynote speaker. She spoke powerfully on this moment of crisis in the Amazon and throughout Brazil. She spoke of the need to unite – a powerful message that resonated as the first panelist, an Indigenous woman from Brazil, joined hands with a forest defender from Ghana, speaking of the need for international solidarity.
The conference also included a closed meeting of highly at risk defenders. Over 20 of the participants at the conference are facing death threats. The work of building long-term international solidarity and strength to back-up forest and land defenders who are risking their lives is just beginning. To support the urgent needs of these women and men who are risking everything to defend their homes and forests, please give generously.
The Forest Defenders Conference series is steadily building an international network to articulate the needs and successes and demands of frontline defenders. The next conference will be in Spring 2021 in Turkey – to sign up for more information please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.