February 17, 2020, Quirinale Palace, Rome. The ceremony for the appointment of Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic to Emanuela Evangelista was held.
“For her constant commitment, internationally, to environmental protection, the protection of indigenous peoples and the fight against deforestation” these are the words of the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella for Emanuela Evangelista.
An undoubtedly touching but also rewarding ceremony for the Roman activist, who came to Italy from Brazil for the award ceremony. “I am very excited and happy to be here – said Emanuela – this title is not only mine. It also belongs to the people in the association and to the natives who are constantly engaged in this huge job. All this will push us to do more, but it is necessary that Italy and the Italians become aware of the great responsibility we have in the ongoing destruction. For this I thank President Mattarella for his sensitivity in identifying the urgency of a theme that needs continuous attention, not momentary, and on which the future of humanity depends. “
Member of the Species Survival Commisson (SSC) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Emanuela Evangelista is also President of Amazônia Onlus, based in Milan and Vice President of the Trentino Insieme association, based in Trento.
In the Amazon since 2000, Emanuela lives in the small village of Xixuaú, on the banks of the Jauaperi River, in the heart of the forest. “Our work aims to eradicate poverty – she explains – in order to reduce the trend towards urban migration, typical of the region. We work to offer health, training, work, income and sustainable development to the natives, indispensable guardians of the forest. Indigenous peoples have always needed the forest to survive but the forest today, in the current scenario, needs its inhabitants in order to remain standing.”
The role of ecotourism is fundamental which, together with the sustainable harvest of forest fruits, crafts and scientific research, constitutes an important source of income for many families. Training of health and agricultural technicians, management, leadership, IT and language courses, artesian wells, community gardens and medical missions and, moreover, schools, internet connection, boats and motorboats to get out of isolation and to start new activities. There have also been many opportunities for cultural exchange through travel to other regions of the Amazon and Brazil but also to Europe and Africa.
In 2018 this area of 600 thousand hectares of protected tropical forest aimed at the sustainable use of natives (about 1000 people distributed in 14 villages), was recognized as a National Park (Extractive Reserve of the Lower Rio Branco and Rio Jauaperi), becoming symbol of conservation and fight against climate chaos.
“The Amazon risks becoming a savannah in just 15 years. My appeal to the Italians – the biologist concludes – is to act. We are still on time, but we must act now. We have the economic resources and the necessary technologies and to reverse the course and return the planet to a safe area. But we’re not going fast enough. It is necessary that citizens and all Italian consumers put pressure”.
Photo: Matteo Minnella/One Shot