When I visited the floating palafito fishing village of Nueva Venecia in early 2021, I found myself staring out across the calm, reflective expanse of the coastal lagoon complex known as the Ciénaga Grande de Santa Marta. Looking back at that moment, I understand why Ernesto Mancera has spent the past 35 years studying the region’s mangroves […]
In November, a group of traditional fishers met on the banks of the Cascaloa Ciénaga. Nilton Chacon, a leader of a local association of artisanal fishers, stood to speak.
On a recent, pre-pandemic journey to the High Andes of Colombia, I found myself surrounded by one of the region’s emblematic species, the flowering shrubs known locally as frailejones or “big monks.” These giant plants, relatives of sunflowers from the Espeletia genus, mesmerized me, their yellow buds and silvery hairs glistening in the intense, ephemeral sunlight. Looking out over […]
Miller Dussán is one of those rare people who can just as comfortably traverse the traditional fishing villages and small farms of the countryside as he can the halls of research and policy-making institutions. In Colombia, a dynamic, water-rich country that is highly dependent on increasingly controversial hydropower, Dussán plays a vital role in these two spaces. In […]
La Guajira is a dry and windy peninsular desert region between Northeast Colombia and Northwest Venezuela. The striking landscape has been harsh and borderline uninhabitable for many thousands of years. The southernmost parts of the peninsula border the slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range, where the principal waterway of La Guajira is born, […]
From the emblematic Magdalena River, which begins high in the Andes as a Sacred Source and descends into the industrial valleys to a overused and contaminated course, to the groundbreaking case of the Atrato River, which gained international attention in 2017 when it was granted the rights of personhood under Colombia’s Rights of Nature law, Colombia’s rivers have much to teach us.
Colombia, with its biological, cultural and hydrological richness, has become a trailblazer in legally formalizing Rights of Nature, beginning with the 2017 Judgement of the Atrato River, but to what end?
Strengthening the socio-ecological systems of Indigenous communities is an urgent priority for achieving global “sustainable development” and environmental goals. For Indigenous people to remain resilient stewards of ecosystems and culture in the face of anticipated threats like climate change and territorial exploitation, however, as well as unanticipated threats like the COVID-19 pandemic that induced present […]
The longest running successful experiments in sustainable human land use are found within the collectively held lands of traditional communities, who have lived for generations in balance with the ecosystems of their ancestral territories. Looking to Indigenous socio-ecological systems, traditional knowledge, and integrated interpretations of what “nature” is and how to live in balance with the natural […]
Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, many Indigenous people have returned to their ancestral territories. These vulnerable communities are now isolating themselves in efforts to block the entrance of this highly infectious respiratory disease.