Slide Global commission for the
sacred headwaters initiative
Comisión global de la iniciativa de las Cuencas Sagradas

Sacred Headwaters Initiative´s

Sacred Headwaters Initiative´s

Vision & Values

Vision & Values

Our vision: The Sacred Headwaters initiative is a proposal that originated with and is driven by the indigenous peoples of this territory, aspiring to change the dream of the modern world so that life may flourish for many more generations to come, in a world where we are all able to live in harmonious relationship with ourselves, each other and all beings, honoring the reciprocity and complementarity that governs the pluriversity of all our relationships, guided by ancestral wisdom and the genius of nature to live in deep and liberating interconnection of our greatest potential as daughters and sons of this tremendous planet that serves as our home.

Our inspiration: A headwater defines an emerging network of life, which is sustained and nourished by networks of water that are rendered possible by this very life itself. As such, this is a model for another way of relating. Each and every one of us is a unique headwater. Our veins are rivers. Our capillaries are the streams that feed them. A tree, with its trunk, branches, twigs and leaves reaching toward the clouds, and with its roots and mycorrhizae reaching deep into the earth, is also a headwater. Each of us is supported by a larger headwater. Headwaters exist within other headwaters, which in this way give rise to yet other headwaters.

They nurture and sustain those sources of water that preceded them and, along with those many other sources, give rise to others yet to be known.

The life forms that have evolved in these watersheds teach us what it means to think of life in relation to the sacred and through the difference that unites us, for it reminds us of our human connection to life in all its emergent possibility. It is this emergent possibility, as it is housed and nurtured by a headwater, that can inspire us to reach for a new form of planetary consciousness, as we learn to address the ecological, social and economic crisis facing all of us on Earth today.

Our principles: We all have something to contribute to this initiative, as the Sacred Headwaters form one, but also, embrace, in their networks, a multitude. Following this spirit of river alliance based on an atmosphere of mutual respect, we invite you to join us in observing the following principles, which guide all our actions that are oriented towards future generations to promote another way of living that is inspired by the vast Amazonian headwater that we seek to learn from and protect.

Indigeneity: We are of the earth, she gives us everything, life, identity and death, that is why we are dedicated to her well-being and celebrate life as sacred.

Reciprocity: We live in a harmonious relationship in and with living spaces and their inhabitants, since everything is interrelated.

Complementarity: We are all part of life, we stop judging each other because we recognize that everything has a role to play in the eternal balance of the cosmos.

Pluriversity: We relate through difference, honoring all forms of beings, human and non-human, visible and invisible, understandable and incomprehensible.

Indigenous sovereignty: Our history and cosmovision enable us to serve the balance of our eco-systems so that life may continue for many more generations to come.

Genius of Nature: We draw inspiration from the intelligence of our biosphere to design complementary and symbiotic «human» systems.

Ancestral wisdom: We connect in reverence and ceremony with our ancestors and the invisible forces that govern the empty space to guide us in the game of life.

Our objectives: By 2030, we want 1) to consolidate the Amazonian Buen Vivir (Suma Kawsay – Life in Plentitude), 2) to ensure full indigenous territorial governance, 3) to promote forest conservation and restoration, 4) to eliminate forest degradation and loss, and 5) to stop the advance of extractive industries. The permanent and sustainable protection of the megadiverse biological corridor of more than 35 million hectares requires a paradigm shift, recognizing the intrinsic and extrinsic value of the Amazon and its guardians, for Ecuador, Peru and the world, through new ecological and social justice agreements (such as basic incomes, foreign debt relief, support for an international treaty of non-proliferation of fossil fuels, among others).

Our strategy: We can no longer continue with reforms and gradual changes trying to remedy isolated problems and symptoms of an economic, socio-cultural and political system that has to be changed at its roots. What we need is a systemic transformation, like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a butterfly. There is no single path or fixed plan for this challenge, we are entering uncharted territory. The Sacred Headwaters serve us like a school of life, as a laboratory to learn and innovate together. This requires the following evolutions in our strategy:

From defense to proposal: Instead of fighting, let’s overcome our differences to co-develop regeneration and preservation proposals that include and benefit the vast majority of stakeholders in the bioregion.

From decolonization to reimagination: Let us meet to heal our relationships, minds, hearts, bodies and souls in order to re-imagine our worlds together from a total void where anything is possible.

From resource to sacred: Extractivist pressures will continue to overwhelm our powers until we recognize that clean water, pure air, intact eco-systems are life-giving and sacred.

From indigenous peoples to a global movement: This is not about protecting or helping indigenous peoples, this is about protecting life and future generations. Let us all become guardians of nature!

From modernity to totality: Only if we join the forces of modern and ancestral sciences, technologies and knowledge, valuing them equally, will we be able to achieve our challenge of preserving life.

From changing others to changing ourselves: System transformation passes through each one of us, which is why we want to be the first to change ourselves, our mentalities and prejudices.

From projects to system transformation: We have to mobilize a critical mass of diverse actors to first understand the complex interactions that are creating the current system and keeping us prisoners of its logic and functioning. Then we can explore multiple possibilities for radical interventions and begin experimenting with them until we discover together how we can promote a snowball effect across sectors, geographies and generations to generate a new eco-system of governance of the Sacred Headwaters that is so superior in quality and benefits to the existing system, that it renders it obsolete.

Our transitional pathways: Together we can co-generate unprecedented and compelling proposals on how to govern, relate, educate, feed, move, heal, protect, finance and dream together. We identified the following preliminary areas of exploration and action: A) Forest Economy, B) Territories and Indigenous Self-Determination, C) Transportation, Technology and Connectivity, D) Intercultural and Environmental Education, E) Intercultural Health, F) Smart Urban Planning, G) Transition Pathways, H) Renewable Energy, J) Restoration and Preservation. Within this framework, we follow a two-sided strategy. On the one hand, we have already identified more than 40 concrete and viable proposals to respond at once to the urgent needs of the biorregion. On the other hand, we are launching diverse groups to research, experiment and develop the deeper structural changes that are needed in the medium and long term.

In conclusion: As humanity we require the humility to recognize that we cannot continue on our current path. We are at a critical point in our history, between our ‘modern’ ways of structuring our identity, consciousness and love, and the irresistible call of our ancestral future. The evolutionary impulse of life is manifesting itself through us, asking us to change course(s).

Listening to this voice of life, we know it is time to collaborate as never before so that we may achieve our vision together!