Cities and towns for more climate justice

Photo: Revieshan via Unsplash

Radolfzell at Lake Constance (DE) approves financial support for indigenous peoples of Amazonia

From forest clearing by fire to illegal mining and threats to lives and livelihoods, the indigenous peoples of the Amazon region and their territories are exposed to numerous dangers. For more than 30 years, Climate Alliance has supported its indigenous partners and encouraged its members in Europe to promote climate justice at the local level. The large district town of Radolfzell has taken action and is showing just how local support for indigenous peoples can look. 

"As Climate Alliance members, we are reinforcing our commitment to climate action. In order to expand our scope from a local to a global level, we have decided to financially support projects in the Amazon region," comments Sarah Wilm, Climate Protection Manager of the City of Radolfzell, on the motives behind the city's decision. "Specifically, the city councillors have decided in November 2021 to contribute one euro per inhabitant to work in the field of climate justice over the next four years," Wilm explains further. In total, this amounts to a generous donation of 31,216 euros per annual. The sum goes directly into two of Climate Alliance's funds for Amazonia: the Renewable Energy Fund and the Legal Aid Fund.

“Climate action is a major social challenge, and the municipalities do have a duty to act here – also on a global level," emphasises Radolfzell's Lord Mayor Simon Gröger. "The city of Radolfzell is aware of its responsibility and wants to make its contribution," Gröger continues.

With the Energy Fund, Climate Alliance supports the energy strategy of COICA, the umbrella organisation of the indigenous peoples of Amazonia and a long-standing partner of the network. In order to enable a basic supply of electricity powered by renewables, COICA is working on solutions such as solar lamps or solar-powered boats. These approaches not only lead to cleaner but also to cheaper energy and can often be implemented locally by indigenous communities themselves. Some two thirds of Radolfzell's support will flow into this fund from now on. Through the Climate Alliance Legal Aid Fund, on the other hand, the city supports the network’s indigenous partners with more than 10,000 euros per year to secure their basic rights with access legal aid – especially in the fight for recognition of their rights to traditionally used lands. The fund, which finances lawyers' fees and legal costs, has already helped gain acquittals for several indigenous representatives under threat.

"The response was positive through and through and everyone was aware of its importance," reflects Sarah Wilm on the city council’s feedback. Nevertheless, there were concerns about how the project would fit into the budget. All parties, however, were firmly convinced by the project and thus agreed to implement the measure a year later, in 2022, making the corresponding funding available early on. The fundraising project was unanimously approved by the committee.

The example of Radolfzell shows how cities and towns can take on climate responsibility and work with indigenous peoples for the protection of Amazonia. This reflects the basic idea of the Climate Alliance – to build bridges between indigenous communities and European municipalities in pursuit of climate justice for all.

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written August 2022