Imagine coming home from working or from running errands, and there are people on your property. There are trucks everywhere. Your yard is being dug up, your valuables taken. When you approach them and ask them to leave, they attack you. They tell you they’re not leaving and they’re going to take what they want. You call the authorities. They tell you there isn’t anything you can do. They say that you no longer have legal rights to your land and therefore, no legal recourse. Later, you’ll learn that the government actually incentivized the violent trespassers to go onto your land and into your home. Your home and property are being destroyed. Your life and the lives of your family are threatened. What do you do?

If you can envision this, then you can envision the destructive violence that Indigenous peoples of the Amazon Basin face as they steward and defend the rainforest. The violence leveled against Earth Defenders, activists who protect ecosystems and the human right to a safe, healthy environment, resulted in the deaths of dozens of Earth Defenders and brought the Amazon to a state of emergency. Deforestation and degradation have pushed some areas of the biome to an ecological tipping point. If this destruction continues, the ecosystem will not be able to sustain itself, and the world’s largest and most bioculturally diverse tropical rainforest will convert to a savannah. This, Indigenous leaders and the scientific community know, will have a dramatic and irreversible impact on the world’s climate.

In response to invasions on their sacred territories, illegal land grabbing, and ongoing threats to their safety, and to help ensure a better climate future for us all, Indigenous communities throughout the Amazon have banded together to fight for a world where the remaining 80 percent of the rainforest is protected from invasion, extraction, exploitation, and destruction. Each day, Earth Defenders put their lives on the line to protect their homes, land, lives, and livelihoods and to fight for a better climate future for the Earth.

What then is the best role for the philanthropic sector? Which philanthropic practices provide critical solidarity and support to communities that are defending their lives and our collective future?

Read the full article about decolonizing giving practices by Kathy LeMay and Caelin Weiss at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.