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Colombian Indigenous People to Create Sustainable Village Safeguarding Sierra Nevada


Greenwood Energy, the Latin American renewable energy subsidiary of The Libra Group, and the Confederación Indígena Tayrona (CIT), the organization of the Arhuaco people from Colombia, announced the launch of the Terra Initiative, a utility-scale solar project in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. The project will also include the creation of three unique sustainable villages with 150 houses for the Arhuaco indigenous community.

“It was the dream of my father, and today I am proud it is becoming reality,” said Noel Torres, a leader of the Arhuaco community who follows in the footsteps of his father, protecting the Sierra Nevada.

The first-of-its-kind project, Terra is created in partnership with the Arhuaco people, and is designed to support preservation and reforestation of land that the International Union for Conservation of Nature describes as “the most irreplaceable nature reserve in the world.”

Members of the Arhuaco Community in Nabusimake, the indigenous capital of the Sierra Nevada of Colombia. Credit: Luis Ospino / Greek Reporter

On Wednesday, April 6, 2022, Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez announced the project in an event attended by 600 Arhuaco people in the Indigenous capital of Nabusimake, along with Greenwood Energy. The Initiative is currently in pre-construction and includes six utility-scale solar plants providing 144 mega-watts of clean energy that will be sold on Colombia’s National Interconnected System.

The Initiative will create opportunities for the Arhuaco people with green energy jobs and skills training, and the development of three villages with solar energy and storage systems, sustainable agricultural farms, schools, and health facilities.

In addition, CIT will be paid for every kilowatt-hour generated by the solar plants with the funds going towards land preservation. Over the project’s lifetime, the Arhuaco people will be able to preserve 119,000 hectares of new land in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta – a land size larger than New York City, Berlin, or Seoul. It will also create a power generation offset of more than one million tons of CO2.

“This project is a roadmap for sustainable development in Latin America’s green energy future. Greenwood Energy is already a leader in the cleantech space, managing close to 100 MW of on-site solar energy systems for public and private sector organizations, including the first utility-scale project in Panama. This Initiative doubles our portfolio, but most importantly, it demonstrates that solar and green energy can be harnessed for greater social good,” said CEO of Greenwood Energy Guido Patrignani. “Our hope is that Terra serves as a catalyst for other similar projects, and builds awareness that Latin America has an opportunity to define and differentiate itself through supporting green energy progress that also preserves our rich cultural traditions and ecosystems.”

Accountability and transparency will be woven throughout the Initiative, including the use of Blockchain technology to track and report environmental impact over the project’s lifetime. In addition, after 25 years, ownership of the solar farms will be transferred to CIT, which will further support land preservation efforts.

Noel Torres with his late father, an Arhuaco leader and visionary of the Terra Initiative. Credit: Noel Torres

“This initiative goes hand-in-hand with the Arhuaco people’s objectives of conservation, protection, and care for nature, while also providing a housing solution and helping facilitate education, preservation of culture, and allowing for coexistence between modern and indigenous life,” said Arhuaco Leader Noel Torres. “For the Arhuaco people, development is that which guarantees life today and in the future. By using solar energy in a sustainable way, we are proving that the balance is possible and setting the bar for others.”

“As the world transitions to a clean energy future, it is vital that we reimagine development and lay the foundation for long-term sustainability and social impact. Renewable energy is one of our Group’s six key sectors and reflects our commitment to responsible business practices. Today, our clean energy subsidiaries in Latin America, the U.S., and Europe will soon reach the one-gigawatt mark in the development of green energy, including solar, wind, and waste-to-energy,” said Libra Group Chairman and CEO George Logothetis.

He adds that “a commitment to sustainability and social good is at the core of our Group, and we are looking for ways to build synergies and support the environment throughout our portfolio. We are proud that Greenwood Energy has been entrusted with this critical project.”

About Greenwood Energy and the Libra Group

Greenwood Energy is one of the clean energy subsidiaries of the Libra Group, a privately-owned international business group whose subsidiaries own and operate assets in over 50 countries. The Group is predominately active in six sectors, including renewable energy, aviation, hospitality, real estate, and shipping as well as selected diversified investments. Libra Group subsidiaries will be close to reaching the one-gigawatt development mark in renewable energy, which includes solar, wind and waste-to-energy in six countries.

Colombian President Iván Duque together with the community leader and members of Greenwook Energy in a symbolic act for the indigenous community at the launch of the Terra initiative. Credit: Greek Reporter

Greenwood Energy is currently developing or managing close to 100 MW of on-site solar energy systems for public and private sector organizations wishing to offset their energy costs in Latin America, including the first utility-scale project in Panama. The Libra Group also owns Greenwood Sustainable Infrastructure (GSI), focused on the investment, development, and operation of both distributed generation and utility-scale solar energy projects in North America. As of January 2022, the company has developed approximately 200 MW in 32 renewable energy projects, many of which are still owned or operated by GSI. Other energy holdings include Convergen Latvia, which operate biogas plants in Latvia, and EuroEnergy, which operate multiple solar and wind farms across Europe.

About Confederación Indígena Tayrona – CIT

Founded in 1978, CIT is the organization that represents the Arhuaco people of Colombia, an Indigenous community that descends from the ancient Tayrona culture, located in the country’s Caribbean region.

Their mission consists of promoting the political, economic, cultural, and social development of the Arhuaco community through the management of resources, political agreements, knowledge transfers, programs, and projects. CIT also provides advice, monitoring and evaluation of public policies related to Indigenous communities and environmental preservation of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, which represents their sacred territory.

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