The indigenous tribe of Waorani, in the province of Pastaza in Ecuador, received court protection against oil exploration planned to take place in 180.000 hectares of ancestral Amazonian lands.
The lands are protected by the constitution, even though subsurface resources are legally owned by the state. However, the court ruled that the consultation between the government of Ecuador and the tribe leaders did not follow the required standards, and should be repeated on the basis of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
While this is no definitive halt to drilling in the Amazon, the court’s decision sets a historic precedent to the protection of the Amazonian rainforest and of the rights of indigenous communities.
On another front, at the Cautin River in Chile, the Mapuche community fought against the construction of two hydroelectric projects which would have disturbed a fragile ecosystem and intensified drought.
Their leader, Alberto Curamil, who was arrested and remains imprisoned, is one of the recipients of the 2019 Goldman Environmental Prize, which is awarded to individuals for their extraordinary contribution to environmental protection.
The other five winners of the prize are Linda Garcia, who helped prevent the construction of North America’s largest oil terminal; Ana Colovic Lesoska, who opposed the construction of hydropower plants inside the Mavrovo National Park, habitat of the threatened Balkan lynx; Bayara Agvaantseren, who helped create a Nature reserve in Gobi Desert and prohibit mining in the region, to protect the snow leopard; environmental lawyer Alfred Bronwell, who prevented palm oil plantations from taking over 513.500 acres of primary forest in Liberia; and Jacqueline Evans, who campaigned for the establishment of marine protected areas around all Cook Islands.