KARI-OCA 2 DECLARATION, “INDIGENOUS PEOPLES GLOBAL CONFERENCE ON RIO+20 AND MOTHER EARTH”
June 17, 2012
We, the Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth assembled at the site of Kari-Oka I, sacred Kari-
Oka Púku, Rio de Janeiro to participate in the United Nations Conference on Sustainable
Development Rio+20, thank the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil for welcoming us to their
territories. We reaffirm our responsibility to speak for the protection and enhancement of the
well-being of Mother Earth, nature and future generations of our Indigenous Peoples and all
humanity and life. We recognize the significance of this second convening of Indigenous Peoples
of the world and reaffirm the historic 1992 meeting of the Kari-Oca I, where Indigenous Peoples
issued The Kari-Oca Declaration and the Indigenous Peoples Earth Charter. The Kari-Oca
conference, and the mobilization of Indigenous Peoples around the first UN Earth Summit,
marked a big step forward for an international movement for Indigenous Peoples’ rights and the
important role that Indigenous Peoples play in conservation and sustainable development. We
also reaffirm the Manaus Declaration on the convening of Kari-Oca 2 as the international
gathering of Indigenous Peoples for Rio+20.
The institutionalization of Colonialism
We see the goals of UNCSD Rio+20, the “Green Economy” and its premise that the world can
only “save” nature by commodifying its life giving and life sustaining capacities as a
continuation of the colonialism that Indigenous Peoples and our Mother Earth have faced and
resisted for 520 years. The “Green Economy” promises to eradicate poverty but in fact will only
favor and respond to multinational enterprises and capitalism. It is a continuation of a global
economy based upon fossil fuels, the destruction of the environment by exploiting nature through
extractive industries such as mining, oil exploration and production, intensive mono-culture
agriculture, and other capitalist investments. All of these efforts are directed toward profit and
the accumulation of capital by the few.
Since Rio 1992, we as Indigenous Peoples see that colonization has become the very basis of the
globalization of trade and the dominant capitalist global economy. The exploitation and plunder
of the world’s ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as the violations of the inherent rights of
Indigenous Peoples that depend on them, have intensified. Our rights to self determination, to
our own governance and own self-determined development, our inherent rights to our lands,
territories and resources are increasingly and alarmingly under attack by the collaboration of
governments and transnational corporations. Indigenous activists and leaders defending their
territories continue to suffer repression, militarization, including assassination, imprisonment,
harassment and vilification as “terrorists.” The violation of our collective rights faces the same
impunity. Forced relocation or assimilation assault our future generations, cultures, languages,
spiritual ways and relationship to the earth, economically and politically.
We, Indigenous Peoples from all regions of the world have defended our Mother Earth from the
aggression of unsustainable development and the overexploitation of our natural resources by
mining, logging, mega-dams, exploration and extraction of petroleum. Our forests suffer from
the production of agro-fuels, bio-mass, plantations and other impositions of false solutions to
climate change and unsustainable, damaging development.
The Green Economy is nothing more than capitalism of nature; a perverse attempt by
corporations, extractive industries and governments to cash in on Creation by privatizing,
commodifying, and selling off the Sacred and all forms of life and the sky, including the air we
breathe, the water we drink and all the genes, plants, traditional seeds, trees, animals, fish,
biological and cultural diversity, ecosystems and traditional knowledge that make life on Earth
possible and enjoyable.
Gross violations of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to food sovereignty continue unabated thus
resulting to food “insecurity”. Our own food production, the plants that we gather, the animals
that we hunt, our fields and harvests, the water that we drink and water our fields, the fish that
we catch from our rivers and streams, is diminishing at an alarming rate. Unsustainable
development projects, such as mono-cultural chemically intensive soya plantations, extractive
industries such as mining and other environmentally destructive projects and investments for
profit are destroying our biodiversity, poisoning our water, our rivers, streams, and the earth and
its ability to maintain life. This is further aggravated by Climate change and hydroelectric dams
and other energy production that affect entire ecosystems and their ability to provide for life.
Food sovereignty is one fundamental expression of our collective right to self-determination and
sustainable development. Food sovereignty and the right to food must be observed and respected;
food must not be a commodity to be used, traded and speculated on for profit. It nourishes our
identities, our cultures and languages, and our ability to survive as Indigenous Peoples.
Mother Earth is the source of life which needs to be protected, not a resource to be exploited and
commodified as a ‘natural capital.’ We have our place and our responsibilities within Creation’s
sacred order. We feel the sustaining joy as things occur in harmony with the Earth and with all
life that it creates and sustains. We feel the pain of disharmony when we witness the dishonor of
the natural order of Creation and the continued economic colonization and degradation of
Mother Earth and all life upon her. Until Indigenous Peoples rights are observed and respected,
sustainable development and the eradication of poverty will not be achieved.
This inseparable relationship between humans and the Earth, inherent to Indigenous, Peoples
must be respected for the sake of our future generations and all of humanity. We urge all
humanity to join with us in transforming the social structures, institutions and power relations
that underpin our deprivation, oppression and exploitation. Imperialist globalization exploits all
that sustains life and damages the Earth. We need to fundamentally reorient production and
consumption based on human needs rather than for the boundless accumulation of profit for a
few. Society must take collective control of productive resources to meet the needs of
sustainable social development and avoid overproduction, overconsumption and overexploitation
of people and nature which are inevitable under the prevailing monopoly capitalist system. We
must focus on sustainable communities based on indigenous knowledge, not on capitalist
We demand that the United Nations, governments and corporations abandon false solutions to
climate change, like large hydroelectric dams, genetically modified organisms including GMO
trees, plantations, agrofuels, “clean” coal, nuclear power, natural gas, hydraulic fracturing,
nanotechnology, synthetic biology, bioenergy, biomass, biochar, geo-engineering, carbon
markets, Clean Development Mechanism and REDD+ that endanger the future and life as we
know it. Instead of helping to reduce global warming, they poison and destroy the environment
and let the climate crisis spiral exponentially, which may render the planet almost uninhabitable.
We cannot allow false solutions to destroy the Earth’s balance, assassinate the seasons, unleash
severe weather havoc, privatize life and threaten the very survival of humanity. The Green
Economy is a crime against humanity and the Earth.
In order to achieve sustainable development, states must recognize the traditional systems of
resource management of the Indigenous Peoples that have existed for the millennia, sustaining us
even in the face of colonialism. Assuring Indigenous Peoples’ active participation in decision
making processes affecting them, and their right of Free Prior and Informed Consent is
fundamental. States should likewise provide support for Indigenous Peoples appropriate to their
sustainability and self determined priorities without restrictions and constricting guidelines.
Indigenous youth and women’s active participation must also be given importance as they are
among the most affected by the negative impacts brought by the commodification of nature. As
inheritors of Mother Earth, the youth play a vital role in continuing defending what is left of their
natural resources that were valiantly fought for by their ancestors. Their actions and decisions
amidst the commercialization of their resources and culture will determine the future of their
younger brothers and sisters and the generations to come.
We will continue to struggle against the construction of hydroelectric dams and all other forms
of energy production that affect our waters, our fish, our biodiversity and ecosystems that
contribute to our food sovereignty. We will work to preserve our territories from the poison of
monoculture plantations, extractive industries and other environmentally destructive projects and
continue our ways of life, preserving our cultures and identities. We will work to preserve our
traditional plants and seeds, and maintain the balance between our needs and the needs of our
Mother Earth and her life sustaining capacity. We will demonstrate to the world that it can and
must be done. In all matters we will gather and organize the solidarity of all Indigenous Peoples
from all parts of the world, and all other sources of solidarity with non-indigenous of good will
to join our struggle for food sovereignty and food security. We reject the privatization and
corporate control of resources such as our traditional seeds and food. Finally, we demand the
states to uphold our rights to the control of our traditional management systems and by providing
concrete support such as appropriate technologies for us to develop our food sovereignty.
We reject the false promises of sustainable development and solutions to climate change that
only serve the dominant economic order. We reject REDD, REDD+ and other market-based
solutions that focus on our forests, to continue the violation of our inherent rights to self
determination and right to our lands, territories, waters, and natural resources, and the Earth’s
right to create and sustain life. There is no such thing as “sustainable mining.” There is no such
thing as “ethical oil.”
We reject the assertion of intellectual property rights over the genetic resources and traditional
knowledge of Indigenous peoples which results in the alienation and commodification of Sacred
essential to our lives and cultures. We reject industrial modes of food production that promote
the use of chemical substances, genetically engineered seeds and organisms. Therefore, we
affirm our right to possess, control, protect and pass on the indigenous seeds, medicinal plants
and traditional knowledge originating from our lands and territories for the benefit of our future
The Future We Want
In the absence of a true implementation of sustainable development, the world is now in a
multiple ecological, economic and climatic crisis; including biodiversity loss, desertification, deglaciation,
food, water, energy shortage, a worsening global economic recession, social
instability and crisis of values. In this sense, we recognize that much remains to be done by
international agreements to respond adequately to the rights and needs of Indigenous Peoples.
The actual contributions and potentials of our peoples must be recognized by a true sustainable
development for our communities that allows each one of us to Live Well.
As peoples, we reaffirm our rights to self-determination and to own, control and manage our
traditional lands and territories, waters and other resources. Our lands and territories are at the
core of our existence – we are the land and the land is us; we have a distinct spiritual and
material relationship with our lands and territories and they are inextricably linked to our
survival and to the preservation and further development of our knowledge systems and cultures,
conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem management.
We will exercise the right to determine and establish priorities and strategies for our selfdevelopment
and for the use of our lands, territories and other resources. We demand that free,
prior and informed consent must be the determinant and legally binding principle of approving or
rejecting any plan, project or activity affecting our lands, territories and other resources. Without
the right of Free Prior and Informed Consent, the colonialist model of the domination of the
Earth and its resources will continue with the same impunity.
We will continue to unite as Indigenous Peoples and build a strong solidarity and partnership
among ourselves, local communities and non-indigenous genuine advocates of our issues. This
solidarity will advance the global campaign for Indigenous Peoples rights to land, life and
resources and in the achievement of our self-determination and liberation.
We will continue to challenge and resist colonialist and capitalist development models that
promote the domination of nature, incessant economic growth, limitless profit-seeking resource
extraction, unsustainable consumption and production and the unregulated commodities and
financial markets. Humans are an integral part of the natural world and all human rights,
including Indigenous Peoples’ rights, which must be respected and observed by development.
We invite all of civil society to protect and promote our rights and worldviews and respect
natural law, our spiritualities and cultures and our values of reciprocity, harmony with nature,
solidarity, and collectivity. Caring and sharing, among other values, are crucial in bringing about
a more just, equitable and sustainable world. In this context, we call for the inclusion of culture
as the fourth pillar of sustainable development.
The legal recognition and protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples to land, territories,
resources and traditional knowledge should be a prerequisite for development and planning for
any and all types of adaptation and mitigation to climate change, environmental conservation
(including the creation of “protected areas”), the sustainable use of biodiversity and measures to
combat desertification. In all instances there must be free, prior and informed consent of
We continue to pursue the commitments made at Earth Summit as reflected in this political
declaration. We call on the UN to begin their implementation, and to ensure the full, formal and
effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in all processes and activities of the Rio+20
Conference and beyond, in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the rights of
Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC).
We continue to inhabit and maintain the last remaining sustainable ecosystems and biodiversity
hotspots in the world. We can contribute substantially to sustainable development but we believe
that a holistic ecosystem framework for sustainable development should be promoted. This
includes the integration of the human-rights based approach, ecosystem approach and culturallysensitive
and knowledge-based approaches.
We declare our solidarity and support for the demands and aspirations of the Indigenous Peoples
of Brazil found in the Annex to this Declaration.
We Walk in the Footsteps of our Ancestors.
Accepted by Acclamation, Kari-Oka Village, at Sacred Kari-Oka Púku, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
17 June 2012.