New York, United States of America | April 28, 2023
The Sustainable Development Goals [“SDG”] Investment Fair, hosted by the Financing for Sustainable Development Office of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs is a leading platform to facilitate dealmaking in SDG investment. With over US$11 billion worth of projects in infrastructure, green energy, and agribusiness presented so far, this event has helped dozens of countries across the globe to showcase investment opportunities to an international audience of investors, financers, and technical experts.
This year’s fair, its 8th edition, took place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City on April 18-20, with exclusive project presentations from Colombia, Ethiopia, Honduras, Suriname, Mauritania, and El Salvador. The Republic of Colombia chose Greenwood Energy to present on behalf of the nation and we were able to share with the audience our leading project in the country, TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE. Our delegation included Greenwood Energy’s CEO, Guido Patrignani, Libra Group’s CEO, Manos Kouligkas, Libra’s EVP in Energy investments, Camilo Patrignani, together with renowned Arhuaco leaders such as the Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations, Leonor Zalabata, the Arhuaco governor for Magdalena-Guajira, Danilo Villafaña, and the Chief Council of Arhuaco Mamus, Camilo Izquierdo, among other members of the community.
On the opening day of the fair, in a panel shared with the sovereign wealth fund Ethiopian Investment Holdings, ProColombia’s Foreign Investment Vice President, Julio Cesar Puentes, explained the crucial role of the country towards achieving global SDG. Greenwood Energy’s CEO, Guido Patrignani, explained how “TERRɅ is not an isolated project that only benefits a given community or a certain region of the world, but, most importantly, a new way of structuring infrastructure projects”. He highlighted that “due to the huge influence that large infrastructure projects have on communities and the surrounding environment they are the perfect channel to reimagine development”. Through the presentation, Guido was able to showcase the unique features of the solar energy project, which will support the indigenous welfare and secure the preservation of over 120,000 hectares of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, described by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “the world’s most irreplaceable nature reserve”.
As Guido explained, TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE consists of the construction of six utility-scale solar plants which will generate a total of 162MWp of power to be distributed through the national power grid. The project also includes the construction of three traditional indigenous villages for nearly 1,000 indigenous people next to the solar plants.
Among its main SDG benefits, the solar project will pay the Arhuaco indigenous community an “Environmental Fee” for every kWh produced during the first 25 years of operation, so the community can finance its land acquisition preservation strategy in Sierra Nevada. After the 25th year, all the energy assets will be transferred to the community, who will have the freedom to decide whether to keep the power infrastructure and boost even further the land preservation program; or dismantle the solar plants and bring the land back to its original state. TERRɅ will also provide technical training to the youth of the indigenous villages, facilitating access to skilled jobs related to the operation and maintenance of solar power plants. The sustainable villages will represent a much-needed housing solution to the Arhuaco people, providing health, education, agricultural farms, natural water sources, and 24/7 clean energy from small-scale storage-equipped solar plants.
After the Q&A session that followed the presentation, Danilo Villafaña, Arhuaco Governor for Magdalena-Guajira, talked about the hopes that the community has invested in this project, sharing that their “objective is to recover 70% of the forests in Sierra Nevada, as it has been progressively colonized in an improvised way for a long time; and nowadays we have found the means for reclaiming those lands, buying out the people currently occupying them, under a mechanism that avoids any potential conflict; consisting in the acquisition of land that will be contributed to the wellbeing of the whole region”. Leonor Zalabata, Colombia’s Permanent Representative to the UN, closed the presentation stating that “the leadership, administration, and management of resources by indigenous people in these ventures, is key to their success, as well as for the socio-economic wellbeing of the populations involved”. “I hope that this event provides the necessary space for potential partners to learn the details of TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE, and that it serves to strengthen the protection of the lands that are part of this project” she concluded.
To see the full “Investment Opportunities in Ethiopia and Colombia” panel, visit https://bit.ly/3n8ifrD