Gaia met the anthropologist Martín von Hildebrand in 1989 when he was negotiating as Colombia’s government representative, for the landmark International Convention on the Rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ILO Convention 169).
In1990 Gaia established support from the European Commission for putting the conservation of the Colombian Amazon firmly in the hands of its indigenous peoples. Martín resigned from government and set-up a local organisation, Gaia Amazonas, and together with Gaia, the indigenous people and other partners, the long term programme COAMA (Consolodation of the Amazon) was launched.
Today, over 25 million hectares of the Colombia’s Amazon forest is being preserved by the indigenous communities, who have taken on the rights and responsibilities of local governance. In 1999 the COAMA Programme received the Right Livelihood Award for its achievements. In 2015, Martin successfully persuaded the president of Colombia to lead in establishing an ‘eco-cultural corridor’ protecting up to 230 million hectares of rainforest stretching from the Andes to the Atlantic coast.
We live in a time of multiple, complex crises. There are no easy answers. Working to uphold the health and diversity of our living planet is always rewarding, but we think you’ll agree it can sometimes feel like swimming against the stream. And yet like salmon we leap, and more often than you might expect, we make it. We invite you to make the next leap with us by making a donation of any size. Thank you for your solidarity.