University welcomes Colombian Activists for research project

Issued: Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:27:00 GMT

Activists, scientists and campaigners from Colombia visited UofG last week to meet an interdisciplinary team of researchers working on the ESRC Global Challenges supported Chocó River Stories project.

Based at the University, the project (@chocostories) brings together social scientists and engineers from Colombia and the UK to measure degradation caused by illegal mining on the River Atrato, while devising responses to associated complex social and environmental conflicts.

These challenges are set in the broader context of the ongoing peace process in Colombia following a 52-year civil war.

Some of the River Guardians from Columbian River Stories project visiting the University of Glasgow

Community leader Bernardino Mosquera Palacios, Father Sterlin Londoño Palacios, and Mauricio Cabrera Leal of WWF Colombia, addressed more than 80 students, staff, visiting scholars, and representatives from local organisations including SCIAF at a public lecture on Wednesday 7th February.

They called for further solidarity, research and collaboration on the issue. Father Sterlin Londoño Palacios said at the public lecture: “The river cannot speak, so we must speak for it”.

The River Atrato was conferred rights by Colombia’s constitutional court last year, thereby becoming one of the few natural resources in the world to hold bio-cultural rights.

The lecture was followed by a two-day workshop sharing expertise on environmental remediation, developing alternative livelihoods, and building impact into research.

The Chocó River Stories UK-based team will make a return visit to Colombia at the end of February, where they will share results of water analysis, capacity build with local organisations including WWF Colombia and ABColombia, and the Universities of Chocó and Cartagena.

The Principal Investigators on the Chocó River Stories project are Dr Mo Hume, School of Social and Political Sciences, and Dr Neil Burnside, School of Engineering.