The legislative context in the Northwest Amazon is favourable for enabling local governance by indigenous peoples. Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela have ratified or endorsed key international agreements on the rights of indigenous and local communities, including ILO Convention 169, and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Political Constitutions recognize the pluri-cultural nature of each country, and the countries have demonstrated a common interest in backing initiatives that recognise indigenous peoples’ rights and local governance.
Gaia Amazonas believes that indigenous governance, in coordination with local and national governments, translates into the strengthening of indigenous peoples as the main actors in conserving the Amazon rainforest. This approach can also transform State programs – especially for health and education – to be more efficient, more relevant to local needs, and have greater fiscal transparency. Through our work, this approach is being rolled-out in Colombia, where legislation recognizes indigenous territories (resguardos) as territorial entities, meaning that local indigenous organizations become public entities responsible for the management and administration of their territories, and receive State funds for this purpose.
We provide legal support and training for indigenous people to move forward, from a position of reclaiming their rights towards implementing these rights and the governance responsibilities that they confer. Gaia Amazonas also works with legislators, informing and advising on indigenous issues.