On April 9th and 10th of 2014, in the Colombian municipality of Orito, Putumayo, with the participation of representatives from chapters and councils of the Indigenous Zone Organization of Putumayo (OZIP), Equitable Origin inaugurated the Awareness and Empowerment Workshop for the use and application of the EO100™ Standard as a useful tool for indigenous organizations in managing hydro-carbon activities within their territories.
In total, 71 representatives belonging to various indigenous nations including Awá, Inga, Kamentzá, Pastos, Pijaos, Cofanes, Embera y Murui attended the two-day workshop. The representatives of the different indigenous organizations performed a welcome ritual to encourage a sprit of good reason among all the participants and to usher in a spirit of productivity to the meetings.
The workshops lasted for two days during which the principles and guidelines of the EO100™ Standard were reviewed with the objective of promoting a new paradigm for the relationship between the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon and oil and gas companies operating in the region. During the various working sessions Equitable Origin and the OZIP discussed the six fundamental principles of the EO100™ Standard: 1) corporate governance, accountability and ethics; 2) human rights, social impact and community development; 3) fair labor and working conditions; 4) Indigenous Peoples’ rights; 5) climate change, biodiversity and the environment; and 6) project life-cycle management.
In addition to understanding how the EO100™ Standard works and functions, another goal of the workshop was the establishment of a group of representative local experts and advisors within the communities of the OZIP. Within the participatory and cooperative framework of Equitable Origin and its agreements with the Coordinator of Indigenous Organization of the Amazon River Basin (COICA), Equitable Origin and the OZIP used the workshop as a space for participative engagement and dialogue where relevant actors could advise and voice concerns regarding the EO100™ Standard and the process of renegotiating the relationships between local communities and the oil and gas industry.
Although participants generally had negative attitudes towards the operations of private extractive companies, the attendees all agreed that the EO100™ Standard has the potential to be a useful mechanism for guaranteeing the effective participation of Indigenous Peoples in managing certain activities of the petroleum industry in a more inclusive and equitable manner. One of the most important outcomes and undisputed conclusions of the workshops was that the oil industry has reached a critical moment in the Amazon – now is the time for inventing a new paradigm and a new kind relationship between communities and private businesses as a method for social and environmental licensing of oil and gas operations.
With the exception of the Naza nation, OZIP and its partner organizations agreed to continue with the process of communicating, discussing and undertaking the EO100™ Standard. The OZIP is currently preparing an executive summary of the workshops that will include a formal request to continue with the workshops and to conduct a full pilot project of the Standard and Equitable Origin Certification on oil sites in the Department of Putumayo. Particular emphasis will be placed on conducting the pilot with a Colombian state enterprise.
Equitable Origin looks forward to continuing its good relationship with the OZIP and the COICA and towards a promising future working with other indigenous organizations in Colombia and in local communities everywhere affected by oil and gas extraction. Equitable Origin continues with a vision of sustainability in the path towards creating a new framework for monitoring and evaluating the impacts of oil and gas operations and a new paradigm for the relationship between communities, the oil and gas industry and the environment.