The ECOFONDO Corporation was born on February 6, 1993, as a result of a thorough consultative process between a group of environmentalist organizations and the national government, represented at that time by the Institute for National Resources (Inderena) and the National Planning Department. The aim was to create an organization which would take charge of supporting environmental initiatives in civil society, in the spirit of the Rio de Janeiro Conference (1992) and the new Political Constitution of Columbia (1991), which recognized the right to a clean environment and ecological and cultural diversity of the land. In its first few years, the Corporation dedicated a significant amount of its time and effort to creating its identity in a country that was taking the first steps toward the idea of participative democracy and to the social state of law, bringing these together by showing that it is possible to join together efforts to build a country, beginning from common ground between the state and organizations of civil society, without giving up their autonomy or the creative debate around the many discrepancies which may exist.
ECOFONDO began to act as a democratic and people-centered fund once the following agreements with United States and Canada came into force: THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA RELATIVE TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE ACCOUNT AND OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE COUNCIL OF THE INITIATIVE OF LATIN AMERICA, and THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA FOR THE RESTRUCTURING AND PAYMENT OF DEBT OWED ON THE PART OF COLOMBIA AND FONADE.
The agreement for the administration of the Initiative of the Americas came to an end as expected in the year 2002, transferring the remainder of resources not executed to the Fund for Environmental Action, under the instruction of the Council of the Americas. With the resources of this account, 132 projects were nationally financed, with a total amount of around $9 million USD.
With Canada’s resources, 172 projects were nationally funded with a total sum of around $5.5 million USD.
In the year 2000, ECOFONDO entered into a new partnership with the Embassy for the Netherlands to finance projects in the biogeographical region of Chocó and the Colombian Amazonia. Thanks to this partnership, 132 projects have been supported, for a total sum of around $12 million USD.
In the year 2004, ECOFONDO entered into a new Contribution Agreement with the Canadian Agency for International Development (CAID) for the execution of the national project “Collaborative Economic Management for Peace and Sustainable Development in Colombia”. This project aimed to establish, consolidate and validate integrated and diverse environmental proposals, around the synergies of two structural axes: * Conservation – Production and * Organization and Public Policies, on behalf of rural and ethnic communities affected by the real or potential presence of illicit crops; as an alternative strategy to improve the food security of said communities, strengthening their permanence and their levels of territorial control, and consolidating local, regional, and national organizational partnerships from civil society, aimed at coming up with and managing said proposals as alternatives facing the problem of illicit crops in Colombian regions; looking for environmental improvement of the territories and the quality of life of the population, in order to discourage the link between this and the illegal economies of coca and poppy crops.
Facing co-financed projects, through different agreements, it is noteworthy that ECOFONDO chose grassroots communities for their organizational strength and territorial empowerment, chose to boost black, indigenous, and rural communities, and urban dwellers who have been overlooked or worse, discriminated against. Between 1994 and 2010, a period during which the cycle of projects was in force, ECOFONDO supported sovereignty and autonomy in farming, the efficient use and sustainable management of natural resources, and the creation of a productive, widely-used model for respecting and defending ethnic and cultural diversity.
In 2011 and 2012 ECOFONDO directed, alongside the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development, an exercise to create a process of systematization of important experiences of public participation and protection of traditional knowledge of civil society and ethnic groups which form part of the National Environmental System (SINA). Also during this period, we began the execution of projects with COLCIENCIAS on the theme of social appropriation of knowledge, with the aim of publicizing all knowledge generated by communities through the execution of projects and which became alternatives of life.
In 2013, ECOFONDO solidified the working partnership in environmental management with the District Secretary of the Environment and the FOPAE (Colombia Prevention and Emergency Support Fund) to implement an association agreement aimed at the participation of vulnerable populations, under the figure of Environmental Observers, in a way which promotes processes of vocational training with an emphasis on rehabilitation or recuperation of areas affected by high danger and/or unmitigatable high risks. Additionally, an association agreement was signed with these institutions and the IDRD for the control of vegetation cover in priority areas which could signify risks in case of forest fires, bearing in mind the technical guidelines for ecological restoration in the District Capital.
During its 20 years in existence, the ECOFONDO corporation has contributed to the collective titling of territories of communities of African descent. It has brought about the change of important extensions of the agricultural soils of the country towards agroecology, establishing for them sylvo-pastoral, agro-pastoral and agrosylvo-pastoral models which in addition to serving as the basis of an alternative strategy to advance food security of the communities, has strengthened their permanence and their levels of territorial control and has consolidated organizational local, regional and national partnerships from civil society, aimed and proposing and harmonizing proposals aimed at environmental improvement of the territories and the population’s quality of life.
On the other hand, it has concentrated on strategic ecoregions and ecosystems and they have positively impacted upon basins and microbasins of locally, regionally, and internationally significant rivers with isolation activities for natural revegetalisation and reforestation with native species, as a concrete contribution in order to mitigate deforestation and other causes which have an impact on climate change. ECOFONDO has also implemented strategies supporting the recovery and conservation of fauna and flora which, alongside agroecological processes, contributed to the establishment of synergies between environmental quality and local development, solidifying processes of sustainable development, influencing local public bodies and academic institutions.
It has supported the comprehensive management of waste solids in ten medium-sized cities and in Bogotá, Medellín, and Cali.
Alongside other Environmentalist Colombian Organizations, ECOFONDO has participated in and promoted actions to help indigenous farming communities, supported the defense of National Parks, underlining its political vision, promoted a campaign defending water as a public asset in Colombia, opposing its privatization and commercialization, and promoted the right of all living things to water.