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07.09.2019 Europe

'We must stop predatory behaviour', says indigenous leader at Climax eco festival

By Ollia Horton - RFI
Climax Festival 2019
LISTEN SEP 7, 2019
Climax Festival 2019

The 5th Climax eco-mobilisation festival in Bordeaux in south-western France is underway this weekend. It brings together guest speakers from around the world, alongside concerts and cultural events under the 2019 theme: "Amazonia, or the uprooting of the world".

Known as one of the 'green lungs' of the planet, alongside the oceans, the Amazon region symbolises some of the key environmental struggles of our time: deforestation, biodiversity, over-production and the impact on local indigenous peoples.

As the four-day festival gets underway, South American countries affected by the raging forest fires in Brazil met at an emergency summit hosted by Colombia, in a concerted bid to deal with the environmental, human and economic fall-out of the situation.

One of the special guests at this year's event is Raoni Metuktere, an indigenous leader from Brazil's Amazon rainforest, who met G7 host, French President Emmanuel Macron at the end of August.

"The forests and lands of Brazil help the entire planet live," said the chief.

American indigenous leader Casey Camp Horinek is also attending the Climax festival as a "grand witness" and speaker, participating in a panel discussion on the theme, "fighting against a predatory system" on Saturday.

Horinek, who first took up the cause of human rights in the 1970s, has been transmitting the message from her Ponca Nation of Oklahoma for years now.

Notably, in the last few years, she has been actively protesting against massive oil pipelines, injection wells and fracking in Oklahoma.

As someone who played a key role in the adoption of the first ever International Indigenous Women's Treaty protecting the rights of nature, she is well aware of the difficulties in being heard by governments and industries alike.

“My message is one of unity and helping understand that we, as a human species, are finding it necessary to unite and ally in virtually every area that we are capable of doing so," she says. 

Horinek has not given up hope, in part because of the encouraging exchanges between indigenous peoples across the world, and in some case, alliances with local farmers and ranchers in Nebraska against the pipelines for example.

“I'm trying to think of all the ways we've allied with other indigenous groups, and now we're in this country sharing certain ways of coming together with our relatives from Brazil who are being exterminated so farmers can grow soy beans there," she told RFI, from Bordeaux.

'The sacred living force of the Amazon is being burnt'

“There are [fires] in Siberia, Alaska, Africa, and the storms are growing. The crisis is happening on top of the future of our young ones. Every single way that we can join together to shift humans away from their predatory behaviour and into the behaviour of living within the natural laws – that's what we're here for.”

Climax 2019 is being held at the Caserne Niel Barracks in Bordeaux, now known as "Darwin".

The site prides itself on being eco-friendly, with 100 percent renewable energy supply, strict management of waste and water and access to local and organic and vegetarian food.

“In a different way, in a different world, we have come back to those and recognised the true powers that exist are not those that live in the boardrooms of the largest banks that are financing pipelines," says Horinek. 

"The power is what has always been – that's the sun, the winds, the waters, the rhythm of the moon that is the earth herself,“ she concludes.

She will be participating in the Women's Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN) meeting in Paris in October as part of an indigenous delegation.

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