Categories Ecuador, Latin America, Updates

Kichwa People of Sarayaku’s Living Forest (Kawsak Sacha) earns global recognition

Congratulations to the Kichwa People of Sarayaku (ICCA Consortium Member) on winning the Equator Prize 2021

Photo: Pueblo Originario Kichwa de Sarayaku

First published on 12/15/2021

Indigenous conservation efforts of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku (Pueblo Originario Kichwa de Sarayaku, ICCA Consortium Member) have earned the Equator Prize 2021.

The United Nations Development Programme awarded its prestigious Equator Prize to recognize the Kichwa People of Sarayaku’s decades-long efforts to protect their territory of life and struggle to advocate for Kawsak Sacha (Living Forest), “a concept and logic with global relevance.”

The Indigenous Sarayaku live in territories along a stretch of the Bobonaza River in the province of Pastaza in the southern part of the Ecuadorian Amazon. The Kichwa people of Sarayaku have won legal battles to protect their 133,000-hectare territory in the Amazon rainforest from oil drilling, logging, and road construction.

Their “Kawsak Sacha” (“Living Forest”) Declaration seeks recognition of their Indigenous worldviews and practices, which nurture and sustain all aspects of the territory, including the rich biological diversity, as part of their identity and ways of life. In 2020, the Kichwa people documented and registered their territory of life in the global ICCA Registry.

Deep in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest, the Kichwa people of Sarayaku are leading Indigenous rights advocacy, protecting their ancestral territory and forest, and pursuing a sustainable lifestyle that sees nature not merely as a resource but is in line with Indigenous wisdom.

The Equator Prize recognizes innovative environmental solutions for local, sustainable development addressing biodiversity loss and climate crisis. An independent committee selected the Sarayaku as one of ten winning communities from over six hundred nominations from around the world.

The prize was formally delivered in a ceremony in November 2021.