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Joint statement made by the indigenous peoples of Mexico on the inauguration day of the COP 13, 4 December 2016, Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico


– The COP13 on Biodiversity to be held in Cancun as of December 4, 2016 is carried out in the framework of a predatory extractivist model;

– The Mexican State has put itself at the service of large transnational corporations and the so-called “green economy”;

– A recurrent feature of previous COPs has been the turning of a meeting to discuss issues related to biodiversity into a business fair and a platform for the implementation of mega-projects;

– Mining, wind parks and hydroelectric projects, as well as the advance of the monoculture plantation model and the promotion of the use of toxic inputs contribute to the plundering of lands and territories of indigenous communities and lead to serious human rights and native people rights violations;

– Corporations pollute the soil and water with impunity, they destroy the social ties within indigenous and farmers communities while environmental defenders are criminalized;

– Environmental impact studies are rigged to respond to the interests of large corporations and the rights of native peoples to free, prior and informed consent processes is not respected;

– The plundering of indigenous territories is also supported and promoted by big tourism companies and the building of large luxury housing projects;

– The threats to the territory and culture of native peoples come hand in hand with deception, opacity, contract manipulation, violation of agrarian agreements, promises of economic heavens, conservationist speeches and concerns about climate change that don´t go beyond mere rhetoric;

– When these deceptive speeches don’t work, they resort to pressuring peoples who resist, through statements of academics and “environmental” organizations linked to the predatory extractivist system, threats to withdraw governmental support programs, and even violent actions by security bodies and the establishment of clash or paramilitary groups, often associated to organized crime;

– Territorial plundering comes hand in hand with the privatization of culture and the fight against the indigenous identity, its language and its way to see the world;

– The process of criminalization of people and communities in resistance constantly endangers the defenders of the commons and selectively represses those who, in their legitimate right, oppose this economic system of death;

The signatories of this Statement, aware of the fact that in the COP 13 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) there will be important discussions, such as the regulation of modified living organisms, bioprospecting and the use of biodiversity by Indigenous Peoples and communities, want to have a say.

We are peoples with memory. We won´t forget the experience of the Maya ICBG (Pharmaceutical research and sustainable use of ethnobotanic knowledge and biodiversity in the Mayan Region of the Highlands of Chiapas, Mexico), operated by El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), the University of Georgia, with the economic support of the US government, and the molecular biotechnology company Nature Limited of Wales (UK).

The Maya ICBG, the largest biopiracy project, was stopped by the strength of indigenous and farmers communities of Chiapas and of the Traditional Indigenous Doctors and Midwives Organizations of Chiapas (COMPITCH). But we know that new forms of colonialism are looming in our territories and the sacred lands we inhabit.



– The biocultural heritage at stake does not have a price: it is intangible and immeasurable. We have the moral, ethic and historical obligation to continue protecting it and sharing it, because it is linked to the processes of our life, processes we learned from our Mother Earth and which are the result of the ancestral knowledge of our peoples.

– We are not against taking care of nature: we have been its keepers for thousands of years. The imposition of the projects mentioned above, their implementation based on traps and deception, and the fact that information about what these projects really mean for our territories is being concealed, convince us that these projects are not aimed at protecting biodiversity.

– We are deeply concerned over the way decisions are made at the COP13 because they can compromise natural resources and put at risk our ancestral knowledge.

– The promotion of the REDD+ Program (“Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries) exemplifies the lack of will to find real solutions to climate change, one of the greatest threats against life on the planet. Native peoples are not laboratories where can be tested mechanisms to reach sustainable development goals.

– Native peoples know that it is necessary to consider and address the real causes of the loss and degradation of biodiversity. We want to continue defending our territories, our culture, our community identity. In all corners of the world, indigenous people manage our forests and territories, our mountains, our rivers and our seas, respecting and promoting biodiversity, with logics that are far away from this “green economy” that only wants to turn Mother Earth into a commodity.

– We are decided to continue aiming at our food sovereignty through clean practices that generate food for our own consumption and that allow us to exchange our surplus in local markets. If we lose control of our territories and hand it to transnational companies, we will miss all opportunities to produce our own food.

We have not lost our memory.


“You have ruined nature. You don’t care about water, air, nor life. You only care about making more profits. You’ve turned oil into the only source of energy just in order to make profits. Profit itself is the reason behind your new “green economy”. We are willing to find solutions to the problems that your predatory economy has caused around the globe, but you can’t avoid the huge responsibility over the current climate crisis.”

AS PENINSULAR MAYAN PEOPLE, WE SAY to the authorities, civil organizations and those linked to agroecology and the society in general:

The Nagoya and Cartagena Protocols, which will be negotiated in parallel to the COP 13, favor multinational companies and promote the privatization of goods and ancestral knowledge.

In our country, those who lead these projects, big “green coyotes” (The National Commission for the knowledge and the use of biodiversity – CONABIO, and the German cooperation agency – GIZ, for example) are not known for searching the wellbeing of the people and native communities, but that of transnational corporations.

Under a rigged process and rhetoric, the CBD does not represent us. It pretends to bind an unstoppable development which is intrinsically predatory, to a so-called will to preserve and safeguard biodiversity.

We already know this speech. We don´t believe you.

Life is not a business!

Mother Earth, biodiversity and common natural resources are not for sale: they are cared for and defended!


Mayan Communities and Peoples of the Yucatan Peninsula
“U Yits Ka’an” – Agroecology School of Maní (Yucatan)
Inhabitants of Chablekal (Yucatán)
Reddeldía de Los Montes Azules Movement (Chiapas)
Traditional Indigenous Doctors and Midwives Organizations of Chiapas – COMPITCH
Cooperative Society for Regional Consumption Chac-Lol (Yucatan)
The Indigenous Regional and Popular Council of Xpujil – Consejo Regional Indígena y Popular de Xpujil (Campeche)


Friends of the Earth International
Otros Mundos A.C. (Chiapas, Mexico)
Indignación A.C. (Yucatan, Mexico)
Procesos Integrales para la Autogestión de los Pueblos – PIAP (Guerrero, Mexico)
U Yich Lu’um A.C. (Calakmul, Campeche, Mexico)
Mesoamericana Movement against the Extractive Mining Model (M4)
Colectivo Voces Ecológicas (COVEC, Panama)
Haiti Survie
CENSAT-Agua Viva
Friends of the Earth Argentina
Friends of the Earth-United States
Red Latinoamericana Contra los Monocultivos de Árboles (RECOMA)
World Rainforest Movement (WRM)
Brother Tomás González, de La 72, Home-Refuge for migrating people (Tabasco, Mexico)
Ernestina López, from the Indigenous Pastoral of Guatemala
Florentina Hernández Galindo, from Heroica Ciudad de Tlaxiaco (Oaxaca, Mexico)
Dr. Isabel Hawkins, from the Yakanal Project (California, United States)

Main image: Agroecological project in Peto, Yucatan, in the Mayan Peninsula of Yucatan in Mexico ©Robin Canul/MA OGM