Belén de Los Andaquies

During the decades of the nineties and twenties, different international scenarios led to national and local authorities’ compromise to work together against climate change. The Brundtland Report and Agenda 21 set milestones for cooperation between European cities and indigenous communities from the Amazon forest. In 1987, the Brundtland Report stated that critical global environmental problems were primarily the result of the Global South’s enormous poverty and the unsustainable production patterns and consumption in the North. Later, in 1992, Agenda 21 proposed an action plan to be implemented globally, nationally, and locally in fields where human activity impacted nature. Between acknowledging different roles in global environmental problems, and the agreement of goals and actions for sustainable development, international strategic partnerships were provided.

Since 1990, meetings between indigenous representatives from Amazonia and municipal representatives from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland took place. It was recognized that “changes to the global climate have two main sources: emissions from industrial centers of the North and the destruction of tropical rainforests”. The conversations resolved in a partnership declaration between European cities and indigenous peoples of Amazonia to protect the rainforest and global climate. This association received the name of Climate Alliance, and one of its earliest signatories was the city of Hannover.

Since its enrollment to the Alliance in 1991, Hannover city has been hosting visits from indigenous leaders from the Amazon forest. They revolved around political and educational topics and maintained interest and contact between Germany and Amazon peoples’ representatives. The relationships built through these exchanges widespread to inhabitants from the municipality of Belen de Los Andaquies, who had worked since 1991 as agents of a consistent ecological movement in their territory.

Documentation of wildlife exploitation in Belén (dating from the beginning of the XIX century) and the sweeping changes that came with the ratification of the 1991 Constitution in Colombia encouraged civil society’s deep interest in nature conservation and opened ways to interact with the State apparatus and promote and defend their rights. The local movement in Belén started with the purchase of small land for nature conservation. It progressed through the inclusion of ideas and institutions and was consolidated with communal activities that encourage the collective discussion of the need to enjoy nature with responsibility. In 1995 the creation of National Parks in the municipality started and eventually organized nine nature protection areas that comprise around 50 percent of the jurisdiction.

In 2011, there was an opportunity to make official a city partnership between Belén and the Region of Hannover. The project Municipal Climate Partnerships from the German Agency Engagement Global was launched to strengthen cooperation between German municipalities and municipalities of the Global South in climate change mitigation and adaptation. The association between the city of Hannover and Belen de Los Andaquies entered the project in 2012.

The engagement into Municipal Climate Partnerships entailed an initial international workshop, followed by three missions and network meetings in the Global South and North, and finalized with a results workshop at which the joint programs of action were presented. The later implementation of the climate partnership receives inputs from Engagement Global, including “funding of reciprocal missions carried out by municipal experts, technical and methodological advice on developing the program of action and consolidating the climate partnership, and organization and funding of network meetings for the participating municipalities and international workshops to kick off the project phase and present the results” (ibid.).

In 2014, during the results workshop, the Belén de Los Andaquíes and Hannover partnership presented their priority topics:

  • awareness-raising and educational work for sustainability including indigenous knowledge,
  • organic and fair trade cocoa cultivation and promotion of chocolate in Hanover, creation of sustainable partnerships at various levels,
  • creation of sustainable partnerships at various levels,
  • strengthening of the indigenous population

In such an agenda, aware&fair facilitates the implementation of projects and the dialogue between local authorities and territorial actors. You can find more information about the projects and activities aware&fair has engaged in as well as updates from partners in Belén in the following sections.