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ACT!ON: Nemonte Nenquimo - Not For Sale

Nemonte Nenquimo

Rich wildlife, complex ecosystems and Indigenous tribes, Ecuador is considered one of the most biodiverse countries on Earth.

Nemonte Nenquimo is an indigenous Waorani woman who has committed herself to defending her ancestral territory, ecosystem, culture, economy and way of life. She led a successful court action to block a proposal for oil exploration and drilling on 500,000 acres of Waorani land.

80% of the Waorani population currently lives on one-tenth of its original ancestral lands, they maintain the traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle of their ancestors. Oil exploration, logging and road building has had a catastrophic impact on their rainforests.

In collaboration with Amazon Frontlines, she launched “Our Rainforest is Not for Sale,” a digital campaign that collected 378,000 signatures globally that opposed the auction. 

Nemonte bought various tribes in addition to elders and youth together in unity. She also acted as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Ecuadorian government because it had not obtained legal consent from the Waorani tribe to put the land up for auction. 

The court ruled in favour of the Waorani, protecting the 500,000 acres from oil extraction and also requiring that no land can be auctioned off without prior and informed consent. This victory set the example for a legal precedent for Indigenous rights in general and inspired other tribes to follow the Warorani’s example.   

She continues to proactively helped communities maintain their independence from oil company handouts, by installing rainwater harvesting systems, solar panels.

To support her fight, she co-founded the indigenous non-profit Ceibo Alliance. The alliance brings together four different indigenous nations – the A'i Kofan, the Siekopai, the Siona and the Waorani. It builds sustainable indigenous-led alternatives for the protection of their lands by improving access to education, involving young people in leadership, promoting solar energy and creating economic opportunities for women.  

In 2020, Nemonte Nenquimo was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for South and Central America, as well as named in Time’s magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.

Instagram: @nemontenenquimo


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