Bogota, Colombia | December 7th, 2023
On November 30, the international forum ‘Origin & Word’ was held, organized by the United Nations Development Programme [“UNDP”] together with the Universidad del Rosario and the Wayuu indigenous community. The event took place at the Agora Bogota Convention Center, and was attended by representatives of the Arhuaco People, Greenwood Energy, Empresas Públicas de Medellín [“EPM”], Grupo de Energía de Bogotá, Pituvik Landholding Corporation, SER Colombia, and the University of Victoria [Canada], among others, who joined the forum hosts in the various panels developed throughout the day.
The forum provided a space for collective reflection between indigenous organizations, academic experts, NGOs, companies advancing energy projects in ancestral territories, and political leaders, in order to share their experiences and perspectives about the distribution of the benefits that result from the development of renewable energy projects in indigenous territories. Addressing topics such as climate change, the value of ancestral cultures and traditions, the just energy transition, and case studies in Colombia and the world, the event allowed the participants to broaden their vision through the presentation of different alternatives and approaches towards the consolidation of a sustainable future.
Greenwood Energy and leaders of the Arhuaco community led the panel ‘A New Example Emerges in Colombia’, where they shared their experience in the development of the TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE, the largest solar project in Latin America created together with an indigenous community. The CEO of the company, Guido Patrignani, highlighted how “the most innovative aspect of this project doesn’t lie in its specific characteristics, but in the way it has been developed; That is where the true scalability of this business model lies”, establishing that “from the corporate standpoint, companies must achieve a greater flexibility and openness when developing this type of projects, which are based on an active participation of the community, and create additional social and environmental benefits to clean power generation.”
For his part, the Secretary of the Elder Mam
us of the original Kankurwas of Seykúmuke and Numa’ka of the Arhuaco People, Noel Torres, commented that “this is a totally different project, built with the guidance of our Elder Mam us, who in the exercise of their authority have chosen the project land, indicated the route of the transmission line, and guided the cosmogonic design of the towns to be built next to the solar plants.”
The Head of the Arhuaco Directorate for Children, Adolescence & Women of the Arhuaco Cabildo for Magdalena-Guajira, Rosa Margarita Villafaña, added: “this project invites us to train ourselves in technical skills, without relegating our own knowledge, culture, and traditions, because we are called to protect our roots. We have responsibly taken care of the culture during the whole process, which is why the dialogues for the development of the TERRɅ project have been extensive.”
The Arhuaco delegation was led by the Mam
u of the Ka’dukwü of Jimaín, Miguel Ángel Torres, and the Mam u of the Ka’dukwü of Serankwa, Efraín Torres, who concluded the panel by sharing the perspective of the spiritual authorities of the Arhuaco People. “We have the commitment to continue taking care of the territory, the mountains; everything that exists above, and everything that exists below as well, in such a way that life continues, and the existence and permanence of future generations is guaranteed, following the mandate of our Law of Origin” commented Mam u Efraín. For his part, Mam u Miguel Ángel added that “the Elder Mam us are the ones who must direct energy transition projects in our land, given that we know the territory. We have our law, which is written in the lagoons and mountains, and if we comply with our mandate, we will not make mistakes, thus guaranteeing the life of new generations.”
Greenwood Energy thanks the hosts of the forum for their invitation to this valuable initiative, which contributes significantly to the consolidation of a thoughtful and inclusive energy transition, promoting dialogue, the exchange of perspectives, and collaboration between the different organizations advancing these types of projects.