Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia | October 24th, 2023
Located on the eastern flank of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, three hours away from Valledupar, lies Nabusimake, the ancestral capital of the Arhuaco People, which in their traditional language means ‘the land where the sun raises’. This has been the meeting point where the Elder Mamus from the Kankurwas of Seykumuke, Numa’ka and Tirugeka, met with the Ministry of Mines and Energy of Colombia [‘MinMinas’], its Mining & Energy Planning Unit [‘UPME’], and the companies Greenwood Energy, and ISA Intercolombia. The event, led by the Arhuaco authorities, aimed to highlight the historical milestone that the TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE represents for the community and the country, and promote dialogue between the key players in power generation and transmission in Colombia, with a focus on the interconnection of TERRɅ’s solar plants to the National Interconnected System.
UPME’s delegation was led by its Director, Carlos Adrian Correa Florez, who highlighted that these initiatives are very well received by the entity he represents, given that they reflect the intentions of the National Government in the conception of energy projects that promote the sustainable development of communities and collaborate with an effective decarbonization of the Colombian energy matrix. “This is precisely an opportunity to change our mentality and begin to understand what the social dynamics and long-term benefits are like, beyond the technical requirements; as for example, in this case, the fact that houses and communities will be built around the project. Learning about the dynamics taking place in each region will help us plan in a more efficient way, minimizing the risk of potential conflicts in the long term,” said Correa Florez, who stands out as the first UPME director to visit Nabusimake.
For her part, Maria Victoria Ramirez, Director of Electrical Energy at MinMinas, explained that “these projects are part of what I consider the most important feat of humanity, which is the fair energy transition, recognizing that the natural resources belong to all of us, and it is necessary to generate a synergy between the Government, private companies and communities to agree on how this transition will be carried out.”
The meeting also gave rise to the Mamus and Traditional Authorities of the Arhuaco People to share their perspectives about how their ancestral territory is consolidated, highlighting that it is not a coincidence that beneath the substation where the first solar plants will be connected lies a cemetery with the remains of their ancestors. The indigenous leaders also expressed their deep interest in making the TERRɅ project a reality, and in being able to become a reference for the energy transition, sharing their successful experience with other communities across Colombia to promote more projects like this one.
The private sector was represented by Greenwood Energy, the company that developed TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE together with the Arhuaco community, and ISA Intercolombia, whose General Director, Carlos Mario Caro, explained that “the energy transition requires changes in the traditional way of managing energy in Colombia, presenting a challenge not so much technical but adaptive, in which regulations must be transformed in accordance with current needs.” For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Greenwood Energy, Guido Patrignani, highlighted that “TERRɅ presents a new way of developing power infrastructure projects, where we see communities, governments, and corporations, working together in the consolidation of a fair and truly transformative energy transition.”
All the participants of the assembly convened by the Elder Mamus agreed that TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE is a pioneering project in this type of synergies, which offers a point of reference for the public and private sectors to implement similar schemes in other regions. Projects like these not only improve the country’s infrastructure and the quality of life of the communities, but also drive an evolution of the regulatory and legal framework in the future, so that it is increasingly easier to prioritize and implement this type of projects.
A summary video of the event is available at https://bit.ly/3M9iR9B