Wednesday, 27 May 2009

The Amigos del Chocó Foundation (AMICHOCO) & the Oro Verde ® programme

The offices of the Amigos del Chocó Foundation (AMICHOCO) and Oro Verde ® are based in Medellin, and it was to here that I travelled to next. I met with Sandra, with whom I had been talking to about the Green Gold exhibition, and watched a presentation about the Certified Oro Verde ® (green gold) programme.

The Oro Verde ® (green gold) Programme in Chocó ( Colombia ) is the first initiative of its kind in the world. It seeks to reverse the devastating damages caused to this unique ecosystem (a biodiversity Hotspot) by out-of-control large scale mining. Currently the initiative is being implemented in co-operation with 12 Afro-Colombian communities, in the municipalities of Condoto and Tadó. The project seeks an active participation from the communities, which are represented by the community councils.
The Oro Verde ® Corporation, which leads this programme, was created in 2000 as an alliance between 2 community councils in Chocó (the Community Council of Alto San Juan - ASOCASAN - and the Community Council of Condoto - CCMC -), a local NGO (Las Mojarras Foundation - Fundamojarras -) and an NGO based in Medellín (Amigos del Chocó Foundation - Amichocó -). The Oro Verde ® programme seeks to promote sustainable development and to support the communities of the Bio-geographic region of Chocó in improving their living conditions. This is done through the implementation of productive projects (forest, mining and livestock), environmental education and capacity building, linking local communities with the national and international community. The main concern has always been for the communities to become empowered and to have them appropriate the projects they undertake with the Oro Verde ® Programme. The projects, which respond to the local reality, always address social, ecological and economical issues.
To present, the work has been focused on the Oro Verde ® Programme and previously on the Analogue Forestry Programme (Analogue Forestry is an alternative method of rehabilitating the forest and restoring the biodiversity of the region, by using species that are ecologically, socially, economically, and culturally compatible with the environment).
The Oro Verde ® metals (gold and platinum) are bought from certified miners, who receive a fair price for it and benefit from the programmes that are established to improve their living conditions and foster food security. The gold is then sold to jewellers in Colombia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and other countries. A premium of 15% is charged over the international price of gold and platinum, which is used to finance social and environmental programmes in the region. Each jeweller receives a certificate which attests to the origin and method of extraction of the material they are acquiring, and each end customer receives an informative flyer which differentiates their jewellery from the rest. These flyers inform the end customer about the social and environmental aspects that he/she is promoting through the purchase of a piece of jewellery crafted from Oro Verde ® gold or platinum.
Based on the success of this experience and the need to expand it to other regions, the Alliance of Responsible Mining (ARM) was created. This is a network of independent organizations working in a global-scale effort to promote responsible standards and criteria for artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM).

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