Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia | July 3rd, 2024

After 5 years of dialogues that laid the foundations of understanding and trust required to forge a close relationship between the parties, the leaders of the Arhuaco People, headed by the Main Kankurwas of Seykumuke and Numa’ka, and Greenwood Energy [“GWE”], made official the TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE Framework Agreement in Nabusimake, the ancestral capital of the indigenous community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The officialization process, which began on April 13 with the signing of the General Agreement, culminated on May 22 with the signing of the specific Annex for the first phase of the project, named “TERRɅ Site I”, which will be carried out in the Municipality of El Copey, Department of Cesar. Under the sacred tree of ‘Bichun’, on the eastern flank of Nabusimake, more than 200 Authorities and members of the community welcomed, along with GWE, various companies, banks and public entities interested in the joint project, as special guests of TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE’s indigenous officialization summit.

Nearly 50 people from different organizations and geographies participated in a 2-day trip to the capital of the Arhuaco People, where they were able of learning about the indigenous culture and understand its central role in the development of the project. The delegation, led by GWE and made up of directors from the Libra Group, Huawei, LONGi, Financiera de Desarrollo Nacional [“FDN”], Bancolombia, Proparco, OTACC, ImpactA, Corpocesar, ERCO, and the Mayor’s Office of El Copey, among other strategic allies, maintained a dynamic agenda focused on nurturing participants with a better understanding about what TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE represents for the community and the Sierra Nevada, in the voice of the Elder Mamus and Traditional Authorities of the Arhuaco People. Through multilateral presentations, traditional indigenous ceremonies, public assemblies, guided tours, and cultural exchange activities, the delegation played an active role in TERRɅ’s officialization summit, which culminated with the signing of the ‘TERRɅ Site I Annex’ at the General Assembly on May 22 in Bichun, Nabusimake.

The summit promoted various spaces for meeting and dialogue between the delegation and the community, in which, through a close and receptive interaction, the guests were able to discover how the greatest asset constituted between Greenwood Energy and the Arhuaco People, has been the trust required to carry out a project of this nature. At the head of the Main Kankurwas of Seykumuke and Numa’ka, the Mamus and Traditional Authorities of the community hosted the General Assembly along with the leaders of various indigenous organizations that are part of TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE, such as Ni’kuma, the Arhuaco Cabildo for Magdalena-Guajira, and the Businchama Arhuaco Indigenous Reservation. The meetings held throughout the summit contributed to a better understanding by the guests about the deep involvement and sense of belonging of the community in the project, as well as the innovative sustainable model it presents.

TERRɅ consists of the construction of 160 MWp of solar plants connected to Colombia’s National Interconnected System [“SIN”] and 3 new indigenous villages, which will be distributed in a combined manner in different sites located in the lower parts of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, close to the perimeter of its ancestral territory. As happened with TERRA Site I located in the Municipality of El Copey, each location of the initiative is selected jointly by the company and the community, in order to guarantee the technical, environmental, and spiritual requirements of the parties. The Mamus, as the highest authorities of the Arhuaco People, are responsible for granting final approval for each project site, as well as for the respective areas designated for the solar infrastructure, the indigenous town, and the transmission line. In addition to having a structural participation in the development of each TERRɅ Site and the construction of the corresponding indigenous villages, the community will receive funds to finance its land acquisition program for the conservation of the Sierra Nevada, through the application of an ‘Environmental Fee’ for each kilowatt-hour that the initiative’s solar plants sell in the SIN. After 25 years of operation of each solar plant, it will be transferred to the Arhuaco People, who thanks to the increase in their income from the commercialization of energy will be able to expand the scope of their ancestral land acquisition program. Among other notable features, TERRɅ will also facilitate the technical training of the inhabitants of the new indigenous towns for the operation and maintenance of the initiative’s solar plants, thus promoting the economic development of the community through skilled jobs.

In this way, by signing the General Agreement on April 13 and the TERRɅ Site I Annex on May 22, the Arhuaco People and Greenwood Energy made their long-term partnership official, establishing the guidelines for the proper development, construction and operation of the solar plants and the indigenous villages that make up the TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE. “Even more important than the signing of these documents has been the collaborative process by which they were created. Thanks to the work carried out together with the Mamus, Governors and Authorities of the Arhuaco People, we have managed to consolidate a precedent that will serve as a model for companies and communities around the world looking to advance in this direction” commented Guido Patrignani, CEO of Greenwood Energy. “When we started structuring TERRɅ, we found it very challenging to find similar projects to rely on, so we had to break new ground that provided valuable lessons for both GWE and the Arhuaco People. The result of this process has been a company that understands, respects and supports traditional indigenous processes, and an ancient culture with advanced knowledge of the energy sector” Patrignani concluded.

TERRA Site I will be carried out on a 236-hectare [583-acre] property, which has been acquired by Greenwood Energy and transferred most of its surface to the Arhuaco People for the execution of the first phase of the joint project. Two solar plants for a total of 52 MWp and an indigenous village for 45 families will be installed, where the company will be responsible for the construction and operation of the photovoltaic project, while the community for the construction and maintenance of the village. Both the solar infrastructure and the indigenous town are part of the total investment of the initiative. Noel Torres, Secretary General of the Mamus of the Main Kankurwas of Seykumuke and Numa’ka, shared with the guests the cosmogonic meaning behind the first TERRɅ town, explaining how “its design is inspired by the Dawn Star, which for our community has various connotations, both at a traditional and cultural level, as well as spiritual. In addition to being one of the stars that guides our traditional activities, agricultural cycles, marriages, and baptisms, it is also the one that establishes the rhythm of the plants and animals; it is a very important star that has guided the Arhuaco People throughout our history, illuminating the path on moonless nights. The Dawn Star has always reminded us of where the North is, like a lantern of the Universe; that is why we have decided to use it as a reference in the first TERRɅ town.”

The partnership between the Arhuaco People and Greenwood Energy not only represents a thoughtful integration of indigenous culture and technological innovation, but also lays the foundations for a sustainable development model that can be replicated in different geographies and social contexts. The commitment of both parties, crystalized in the signing of the TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE Framework Agreement, is a manifestation of how the close collaboration between an energy company and an indigenous community united by a common vision can contribute to the protection of the ‘Heart of the World’ and the empowerment of its guardians. Through a holistic and inclusive approach, TERRɅ vindicates the value of incorporating ancestral perspectives in the development of infrastructure projects, promoting the progress of communities while supporting environmental conservation.

The large international attendance of the TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE officialization summit has been another demonstration of the growing global interest in moving towards a more sustainable future, with guests from China, UK, Spain, Cuba, USA, Colombia, Argentina, Panama, and Mexico, agreeing on a world vision based on the care of nature and cultural diversity. Thanks to the wisdom imparted by the Mamus and the perspectives shared by the indigenous Governors and Authorities throughout the summit, the TERRɅ allies concluded the trip with a deeper understanding of how the Arhuaco People stand out for being a pioneering and visionary community, governed by the honorable responsibility of protecting ‘the world’s most irreplaceable nature reserve’ [IUCN, 2013]. Reimagining Development is a global mission that requires the commitment and coordination of multiple sectors of the economy and society, promoting disruptive projects that make way for a new collective prosperity aligned with our natural environment.

The summary video of the TERRɅ INITIɅTIVE officialization summit is available on