Debt, Climate crisis and extractivism – Suriname

Suriname is on the northeast coast of South America. With an area of 164,000 km2 and a population of approximately 600.000, the country has a very low population density. About 70% of the population lives in the urban and rural coastal areas.

Suriname is a HFLD (high forest and low deforestation) country, with 93% forest cover and large nature reserves and is part of the Amazon, which is a crucial ecosystem: it not only provides food, water, wood, and medicines to its inhabitants and the rest of the world, but it also helps stabilize the climate through the storage of carbon and the production of 6% of the world’s oxygen. In other words, Suriname absorbs more carbon dioxide than it emits.


There are approximately 42 indigenous villages and 350 Maroon villages and settlements, most in the interior of the country. Some are accessible by road, but many are only accessible by boat or airplane. Although Suriname has a score of 0.730 on the 2021-2022 Human Development Index (HDI), there are large geographical disparities, causing the country’s Inequality- Adjusted HDI to drop to 0.530 (UNDP, 2022). Indigenous and Maroon peoples living in the interior often have little access to (and lower quality of) basic social services, such as education, health care, electricity, and clean drinking water.

Additionally, the interior of the country is the site of main extractives activities, such as gold mining (formal and informal) and forestry (legal/formal). Indigenous and other tribal people’s collective land rights have still to be recognized by the State, even though 2 separate court rulings of the Inter-American Human Rights Court (IAHRC, 2007 & 2015) have mandated this. Suriname has also accepted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including the requirement to consult and cooperate in good faith with the Indigenous peoples through their representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them. However, the reality shows that this is not implemented and that mining and logging permits continue to be granted in or near the villages.