Nemonte Nenquimo leads the Waorani people living in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest. In 2019, the Waorani won a legal victory to protect half-a-million acres of rainforest from oil drilling, setting a precedent for regional indigenous rights. She co-founded Ceibo Alliance to unite indigenous communities in protecting their lands and livelihood.
United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Inger Andersen said Nenquimo’s lawsuit win was a seminal moment for indigenous communities in the Amazon basin. “At least a quarter of the world’s land area is owned, managed, used or occupied by indigenous peoples and local communities,” she said. “Their contribution is essential to halt degradation of these ecosystems. Inclusion of indigenous communities in policy-making and supporting environmental defenders like Nemonte Nenquimo are at the heart of UNEP’s efforts to protect the environment.”
The annual Champions of the Earth award is the UN’s highest environmental honour. It recognizes outstanding leaders from government, civil society and the private sector. Nemonte Nenquimo is one of six laureates announced in December 2020, on the cusp of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030.
Together, they Act #FORNATURE.
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