Protecting the Protectors

Artists United for Amazonia is livestream event for the benefit of the Amazon Emergency Fund, an indigenous-led effort providing rapid response grants across the Amazon to address the pandemic

Hollywood, CA – On May 28, 2020, Sting, Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Morgan Freeman, Carlos Santana, Dave Matthews, Jane Goodall, Jeff Bridges, Peter Gabriel, Herbie Hancock, Trudie Styler, Cara Delevingne, Brazilian Grammy winners Ivan Lins and Luciana Souza as well as numerous others will join indigenous leaders, scientists, and a broad coalition of NGOs in hosting Artists United for Amazonia: Protecting the Protectors, a global livestream benefit. The event is being produced by Artists for Amazonia. The two-hour event, to run from 8pm to 10:30pm ET, will be hosted by activist, actress, and “Game of Thrones” and “Avatar” sequel co-star Oona Chaplin, with closing remarks by Barbara Streisand. The livestream will be available via ​Facebook​ and artistsforamazonia.org.

The benefit will promote the Amazon Emergency Fund, launched last month by a coalition of indigenous organizations, NGOs, and allies to respond to the urgent needs of indigenous peoples of the Amazon threatened by COVID-19. Funds raised will be used for: immediate testing, prevention and care; food and medical supplies; emergency communications and evacuation; protection and security for indigenous territories; & food sovereignty and community resilience. The Amazon Emergency Fund aims to raise $5 million over the next 60 days for Forest Guardians to protect themselves against the pandemic in all nine Amazonian countries.

Right now, there are ​over 100,000 known COVID-19 cases and well over 5,000 confirmed deaths across the Amazon. As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, indigenous peoples are increasingly at risk and could face a potential ethnocide. The Achuar indigenous peoples in Ecuador have reported a dozen cases, the Shipibo of Peru have reported 45 deaths, and in Brazil there have been 143 deaths and 1,256 cases. Due to a lack of healthcare resources across the region, cases are likely underreported and illegal deforestation and extraction activities on indigenous lands further heighten the risk of exposure. In April, hundreds of organizations across the globe signed on for a moratorium against incursions into the Amazon and called to end all destructive activity that further degrades and deforests the Amazon. Indigenous peoples are the best stewards and protectors of the Amazon rainforest and so their protection is vital for the health of our planet.

Many scientists, including George Mason University professor Thomas Lovejoy, have warned that a tipping point in the Amazon has already been reached. Lovejoy warns that this could cause the release of massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere at a time when the world desperately needs carbon reductions.

“We cannot wait any longer for our government…we are in danger of extinction,” said Jose Gregorio Diaz Mirabel, general coordinator of COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin) and member of the Wakeunai Kurripaco people of Venezuela.

Added Barbra Streisand, “While we may live thousands of miles away from each other, we are all interconnected. What the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is that humanity is out of balance with the natural world. When you cut down the forest wherever it is – especially the Amazon – you are tampering with the balance of nature – cutting off our oxygen supply and adding carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is increasing global warming. We must take action now.”

The Artists United for Amazonia global livestream event will feature an inspiring mix of living-room musical performances, informative interviews, indigenous wisdom, and calls to action.The full line-up of artists, celebrities, influencers indigenous and NGO leaders participating in the event includes: Sting, Barbra Streisand, Jeff Bridges, Jane Goodall, Peter Gabriel, Jane Fonda, Herbie Hancock, Dave Matthews, Trudie Styler, Brazilian NBA Star Anderson Varejao, Cara Delevingne, Cary Elwes, Scott Bakula, Amber Valletta, Alfre Woodard, Tom Bergeron, Morgan Freeman, Ed Begley Jr., Rachelle Carson, Cindy Blackman, Frances Fisher, Wagner Moura, Carlos Santana, Ivan Lins, Matti Caspi, Suyan Caspi, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Amy Smart, Carter Oosterhouse, Wendie Malick, Scottie Thompson, Butterscotch Clinton, Kali Uchis, Oona Chaplin, Rocky Dawuni, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Celine Cousteau, Matthew Modine, Peter Coyote, Q’orianka Kilcher, Chloe Smith from Rising Appalachia, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Gregorio Diaz Mirabal, Lizardo Cauper, Luciana Souza, Sonia Guajajara, Angela Kaxuyana, Nina Gualinga, Hart Bochner, Barbara Williams, Dharma Lemon, Maria Gadu, Michelle Barton, Mickey Sumner, Mapu Huni Kuin, Lizardo Cauper, Thomas Lovejoy, Carlos Nobre, Atossa Soltani, Leila Salazar-López, Christina Miller, and Wade Davis.

“This event is part of an extraordinary alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to preserving the most biodiverse region on Earth,” comments Sarah duPont, founder of Amazon Aid Foundation and Co-Director of River of Gold. “Illicit and unregulated gold mining is one of the most dangerous forms of deforestation in the Amazon Basin and releases toxic mercury into the ecosystem. Since the pandemic, gold mining has exploded across the Amazon and into indigenous territories bringing with it violence and COVID-19. Now, the Amazon is at the tipping point and the protectors of the Amazon are under dire threat. What happens in the Amazon affects us all.”

Leila Salazar-López, Executive Director of Amazon Watch, added: “The Amazon and its peoples are in a state of emergency due to climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a crime against nature and a crime against humanity. It is a time for all to unite and act in defense of the forest and in solidarity with the indigenous and traditional peoples across the Amazon who are protecting this great rainforest and our climate for all of humanity and life on Earth.”

Livestream partners include Avaaz, Unify, EarthX, Environmental Media Association, Fintech TV, and Earth Dance.

About the Amazon Emergency Fund:
The Amazon Emergency Fund​ is a newly-formed collaborative working in close coordination with COICA (Coordinating Body of Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Basin) and its 9 national organizations, as well as NGO partners and allies across the Amazon and around the world, to support emergency Covid-19 response. It is housed at the Rainforest Foundation-US and directly supports rapid response grants for urgent and immediate prevention and care; food and medical supplies; emergency communications and evacuation; protection and security for forest guardians; & food sovereignty and community resilience.

About Artists for Amazonia:
The Artists for Amazonia​ Campaign is harnessing the power of creative and entertainment influencers to catalyze global action in response to the crisis in the Amazon rainforest and threats to indigenous earth defenders. Together, we are advocating for Amazon’s permanent protection.

About COICA:
COICA (Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin) is an indigenous organization of international convergence that works for the promotion, protection and security and self determination of indigenous peoples and territories of the Amazon Basin through the defense of their ways of life, principles and spiritual, cultural and social values.

About Amazon Aid Foundation:
Amazon Aid Foundation (AAF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization harnessing the power of multimedia to educate about the importance of the Amazon and the implications of its destruction. AAF’s award-winning projects affect global policy change and activate audiences worldwide to engage in sustainable approaches to protect the Amazon and demand responsibly sourced products.‎ AAF supports and promotes advocacy efforts related to human and indigenous rights, clean water, the protection of species and habitat, and the regulation of illicit and unregulated gold mining and mercury usage.

About Amazon Watch: 
Amazon Watch​ is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of  indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. We partner with indigenous and environmental organizations in  campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological  systems.