Nemonte Nenquimo

Activist Type
Environment, Indigenous Rights

Nemonte Nenquimo, an environmental guardian and recipient of the Goldman Environmental Award, emerged as a staunch defender of the Amazon Rainforest. Leading an indigenous campaign and pursuing legal action, Nenquimo successfully shielded 500,000 acres of Amazonian rainforest and the Waorani territory from oil extraction in Ecuador, setting a critical legal precedent for indigenous rights. Ecuador, known for its exceptional biodiversity and pristine Amazon rainforests, faced severe threats from oil exploration, logging, and road building, which had devastating consequences for its ecosystems and indigenous communities. Nenquimo, a traditional Waorani hunter-gatherer, co-founded the Ceibo Alliance in 2015 and was elected president of CONCONAWEP, advocating for the preservation of ancestral territory, culture, and economy rooted in indigenous values. Her efforts included organizing Waorani communities, launching digital campaigns, and collecting a remarkable 378,000 signatures. Additionally, she implemented sustainable strategies such as rainwater harvesting systems and solar panels, supported woman-led cacao businesses, and initiated a community mapping project to chart the vast Waorani territory. Nenquimo's leadership culminated in a legal victory against the Ecuadorian government, safeguarding half a million acres of rainforest, bridging the gap between indigenous and Western worlds, uniting tribes, and inspiring similar initiatives across the Amazon to protect their rights, preserve the rainforest, and combat climate change.

Artwork by
Richie Guzman

Oftentimes, when faced against the formidable hand of government, it is easy to despair over what seems like impossible odds. Nemonte Nenquino has stood firmly and set an example for the utility of perseverance and unity amongst people. I’m honored to depict her in this piece — reflecting the strength of indigenous Waorani and their pride in their ancestral homeland in the Ecuadorian Amazon — and share an equal pride in my Ecuadorian heritage.

Ecuador

Population
17.8 million
Capital
Quito
GDP (PPP)
$13,285
Founded
August 10, 1809
Total Area
283,561 km2
Demonym
Ecuadorian
Government
Unitary presidential republic
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