20 August 2020 - NPWJ News Digest on Environmental Justice & Human Rights


Agrochemicals and industrial waste threaten Argentina’s Gran Chaco
Mongabay, 19 Aug 2020

In the country’s Gran Chaco region, the unregulated use of agrochemicals has had devastating ecological effects, including the contamination of water sources that residents depend on.The Gran Chaco’s waterways are also under pressure from industrial pollution, heavy metals, oil spills, and arsenic found naturally in underground reservoirs.

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Coronavirus gets dangerously close to isolated ‘Arrow People’ in Amazon
National Geographic , 18 Aug 2020

Amid rising alarm that the novel coronavirus has reached deep into the Amazon rainforest, threatening isolated tribes, Brazil’s Supreme Court this month unanimously ruled in favor of Indigenous people’s demands to force the government to protect them from the pandemic. Even before the ruling on August 5, Indigenous groups hailed the case as an unprecedented triumph. It was the first time the high court had agreed to hear a case brought by Indigenous litigants without intermediaries, such as the Indigenous affairs agency FUNAI.

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Indigenous best Amazon stewards, but only when property rights assured: Study
Mongabay, 17 Aug 2020

New research provides statistical evidence confirming the claim by Indigenous peoples that that they are the more effective Amazon forest guardians in Brazil — but only if and when full property rights over their territories are recognized, and fully protected, by civil authorities in a process called homologation. Researchers looked at 245 Indigenous territories, homologated between 1982 and 2016. They concluded that Indigenous people were only able to curb deforestation effectively within their ancestral territories after homologation had been completed, endowing full property rights.

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Indigenous land intrusions help drive higher virus death toll in the Amazon
Reuters, 14 Aug 2020

SAO PAULO (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The rate of coronavirus deaths among indigenous people in Brazil’s Amazon is nearly 250% higher than in the general population, for reasons ranging from a lack of access to healthcare to invasions of indigenous land, researchers said. The fatality rate among COVID-19-infected indigenous Amazonians had soared by early August, up from the 150% higher than the broader population found in a study in June by IPAM, the Amazon Environmental Research Institute.

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The Americas: Governments should strengthen, not weaken, environmental protection during COVID-19 pandemic
OAS , 13 Aug 2020

GENEVA / WASHINGTON (13 August 2020) – Too many countries in the Americas have loosened environmental safeguards in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, when they should be improving them to protect their people’s health, a UN human rights expert and an expert from the Organization of American States (OAS) said.

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