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Call from the Amazon: World needs to rethink the concept of 'economy'

Reality Check

 , Updated 18:25, 18-Jan-2024

Editors' note: 2024 World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting, themed "Rebuilding Trust", takes place at Davos-Klosters from January 15 to 19, 2024. Approximately 3,000 world leaders, including 60 heads of state, are gathered in Davos to discuss critical issues such as climate change, security and geopolitical tensions. On the sidelines at WEF, the chief of the Yawanawa people in the Brazilian state of Acre expressed his concerns over pressing climate issues, and called for the whole world to rethink the definition of "economy" to protect the environment. The views expressed in the video are his own and not necessarily those of CGTN.

Edited excerpts:

CGTN: Are you excited to see this kind of display about your homeland, about the environment here?

Chief Biraci Nixiwaka: Yes, we are, very much. This exhibition, in a forum like this, brings the story of the indigenous peoples, their art, their beauty that the Western world doesn’t know yet, to bring this to share with the world. Because, in the middle of the forest, there are also arts and beauty, and knowledge, ancestral knowledge, science, and technology.

CGTN: You mentioned a lot of things about your culture, your art. If there's one thing that you want the world to know about you, what would you say it is?

Chief Biraci Nixiwaka: All of the environmental issues because this is an issue of survival of humanity. So we love, respect, protect the forest, the water, the mountains, and the animals. 

And we are misinterpreted as if we were not thinking of economic development. I don’t understand why this is. Because I have never gone hungry, we don’t have children that are abandoned, or daycare centers where we leave our children, or retirement homes where we leave our elders. 

Nothing has ever lacked for us since the beginning of our existence. What more do I need? What do I need to create? 

So I believe we must rethink a new concept for the economy of humanity. Because we speak of economic evolution. The climate change is caused by the development of man. And we are putting the future generations of humanity at risk. So we need to review this, so that the world governments, the great companies of the world, must review our concept of evolution. 

We are not against an economy that would maintain the balance between economic development and nature and the environment. This is what we came here to share with this forum.

CGTN: My last question would be, we’ve all known climate change. We’ve talked about it a lot, we know that it’s destroying the forest, destroying the environment, destroying the water qualities. But sometimes it all seems very abstract. Could you give me one example of how climate change has impacted your community, a very concrete one?

Chief Biraci Nixiwaka: Our summer has always lasted for six months, now it’s like almost nine months of summer. The very big change is that the temperature is as much higher. The rivers are warm. At noon, in the summertime, you can’t even bathe in the river, it’s like there’s something heating the water. So, this is truly due to climate change and global warming. We need to do something about this. 

All my life, we’ve always taken care of. But now, it’s beyond our control. There’s no use in indigenous people being concerned about climate change and global warming if the global governments, if the great global companies are not concerned. We would like to leave our contribution and call the attention to this. We are in a human declination caused by ourselves. So, we need to review our concept, our human concept, our concept of economy. We want to live longer on Earth. If we continue the way we are, humanity will not live as long. We won’t have any climate on this planet for humanity to survive.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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