Gran Tierra Energy’s operating philosophy, Beyond Compliance, influences the decisions we make regarding how we meet our commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. Beyond Compliance means that whenever possible Gran Tierra voluntarily goes beyond what is legally required to care for the environment and undertake respectful engagement with local communities.
Going Beyond Compliance for the Environment
NaturAmazonas: Gran Tierra’s Largest Environmental Initiative
NaturAmazonas, Colombia’s signature reforestation and conservation project, made progress on multiple fronts in 2019. Since entering into a partnership in 2017 with NGO Conservation International, Gran Tierra has committed to contributing USD $13 million over eight years to this large scale reforestation and conservation project in the Putumayo.
The NaturAmazonas project is a key component of the company’s efforts to utilize, to help restore and protect the Andes-Amazon corridor, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world. One of the project’s major goals is to reforest 1,000 hectares and to secure and maintain 18,000 hectares of adjoining forests. It is expected that the actions developed by NaturAmazonas will contribute to reducing deforestation in the Amazonian foothills by at least 20% by 2021.
A very important factor in NaturAmazonas’ success is in helping people understand how sustainable forest practices can help increase their standards of living. To maximize its benefits for local communities in the Putumayo, the project focuses on four initiatives: Socioeconomic Activities, Sustainable Production, Knowledge Generation and Inter-Agency Coordination.
NaturAmazonas 2019 Accomplishments
- An additional investment of over COP $8 billion will align GTE’s NaturAmazonas program with the Colombian government’s objective to establish a cacao industry in the region by integrating sustainable cultivation practices with the reforestation project. This will provide farmers the ability to produce income generating crops while simultaneously protecting and preserving the forest.
- The Guayuyaco Agroforestry Center in the town of Piamonte was converted and refurbished from an abandoned social site of a nearby Indigenous Inga community and is capable of growing over one million seedlings each year to support the reforestation initiative.
- A new nursery, Sacha Wasi, is under construction near GTE’s Costayaco facility and will have a similar capacity when it opens in 2020.
- Beekeeping: This is an example of how people can generate more income while restoring forest land. Honey production can be a lucrative endeavour, and with over 13 species of productive bees, numerous varieties or blends of high quality food or medicinal honeys are being produced. The association of beekeepers continued to grow in 2019, with 290 current members having been trained and certified in bee keeping. Participants are selected based on the optimal distribution of bees and trees for future reforestation.
- Efficient Stoves: As part of this project, an innovative wood-fired stove was developed for use in rural areas without reliable access to electricity. In these areas, trees are frequently cut down for household heating, cooking and lighting. The stoves, which are portable, are 60% more efficient than open wood burning with less emissions. The latest version also generates a steady three-volt current which can charge mobile phones and power 10 lights for three hours – a significant benefit for these communities. More than 200 eco-efficient stoves have been distributed through the NaturAmazonas project.
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Costayaco Forestry Center: A Unique Resource for Reforestation
The Costayaco Forestry Center (CFC) was established by Gran Tierra in 2010 in coordination with the regional environmental regulator, CORPOAMAZONIA, to produce seedlings for reforestation of nearby forest areas. It has grown into one of the most innovative reforestation efforts in South America and has been very successful in the strategically important area between a heavily forested national park and areas where economic activities like cattle farming have degraded some of the Amazon rainforest. One of the keys to the Forestry Center’s effectiveness is that it helps facilitate concentrated reforestation in degraded areas, rebuilding critical corridors for flora and fauna.
- 51,497 trees have been planted at the Costayaco Forestry Center.
- 49,423 trees produced at the nursery have been donated.
- The birth of a “Tigrillo” (Leopardus tigrinus) kitten on the Center’s land indicates that its location and size has created an area where new species can be accepted.
While the Center is a vehicle for fulfilling some of GTE’s compliance requirements to offset both the loss of trees removed for construction of GTE facilities and the use of water in the company’s operations, the Forestry Center’s voluntary activities are also an example of the company’s commitment to go Beyond Compliance.
The Costayaco Forestry Center spans a total of 213 ha and with more planned, the Center has grown large enough to become a habitat for animals that would otherwise be in danger. On any given day, hundreds of birds and thousands of butterflies can be seen throughout the area. In addition, recently, several animal releases – 10 owls, 24 turtles, 1 armadillo, and 1 false coral snake – were made by CORPOAMAZONIA adding to the release of animals made in prior years.
The Center also serves as a vital link to nearby communities. In 2019, 315 people visited the Costayaco Forestry Center to learn about GTE as well as the importance of protecting the environment and the reforestation efforts taking place in the area. The Center is working with local schools to catalyse environmental awareness at an early age.
“In the beginning the community thought we were just another oil company with our own objectives. But they have seen our commitment to the restoration of these areas. You only have to look around now to see the results of all these years of hard work. Along with our other efforts, we are showing that hydrocarbon extraction is possible while being environmentally friendly.”VICTOR LINARES, Director, Costayaco Forestry Center, GTE
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Rigorous Planning to Protect the Environment
Gran Tierra performs rigorous environmental impact assessments of its proposed projects.
An important part of GTE’s approach is being transparent about environmental practices, inviting communities to witness its activities and dispelling myths. The goal is to show communities what the company is doing, rather than just talking about it.
If you are interested in visiting us please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Protecting Colombia’s Water
Gran Tierra believes that the protection of freshwater is an essential part of responsible oil and gas exploration and production. The company is committed to ensure that its operations do not have an impact on groundwater and aquifers. Independent monitoring and testing has confirmed that Gran Tierra has fully safeguarded groundwater quality throughout its history of drilling operations in Colombia.
GTE will fund additional independent studies of the water if local communities want to hire their own laboratory (as long as it is certified by Colombian regulators). GTE will take its own samples and compare them with the communities’ samples, sharing the results at a community meeting.
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Gran Tierra Volunteers to Restore Area Contaminated During Colombia Conflict
An example of the impact Gran Tierra’s Beyond Compliance philosophy can have on important decisions took place on October 4, 2017, when the company signed an agreement with the Government of Colombia to voluntarily restore an environmentally sensitive area that was contaminated years ago when an oil well was targeted during the armed conflict.
Although this well, the Azul Grande, in southwest Putumayo did not belong to Gran Tierra and the company has no legal obligation to engage in the cleanup, GTE chose to participate as part of its commitment to environmental protection. Also participating in this project is CORPOAMAZONIA, an Autonomous Regional Corporation (Corporación Autonomia Regional–CAR), which has jurisdiction over departments in the southern Amazon region of Colombia and is responsible for overseeing environmental management within their jurisdiction.
Going Beyond Compliance for Local Communities
Fundación Nacional Batuta
Since 2015 Gran Tierra has been financially supporting an innovative music education program focused on developing social learning and musical skills of young children, which is run by the renowned National Batuta Foundation. The program was launched over 20 years ago to address the weakening of the social and cultural fabric caused by decades of conflict, criminality and political division. These factors resulted in massive displacement of youth from their homes, intense poverty and other burdens on young people.
Using music as a tool for social reconstruction, the Foundation encourages active participation in society while strengthening social integration and cultural diversity.
In Puerto Limón, several kilometres downriver from Gran Tierra’s operations at Costayaco and Moqueta, students up to the 9th grade from several schools gather for classes at the community centre after school several times each week.
The Centre has had a positive impact on the local community, welcoming 140 children and adolescents to the music centre in 2019, along with providing jobs for musical instrument craftsmen and music teachers. Educators from schools in the area are attributing the improvement of student memorization, increased attention spans, and improved learning in other school subjects to the activities and programs that students participate in at the Fundación Nacional Batuta.
PetrolCopa School Challenge
In August 2018, a partnership between Gran Tierra and the Colombian chapter of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) launched the PetrolCopa School Challenge. The competition, focused on protecting and preserving natural sources of water, was conducted by volunteers from SPE and GTE in Putumayo, Cauca and Cesar departments, the areas where GTE’s main operations are located.
In 2019’s competition, nearly 2,000 eleventh grade students from 36 secondary schools participated in the challenge. Students were encouraged to go into their communities and identify water-related problems and to develop solutions.
Four to five member student teams collaborated on a project and were supported by a mentor as they researched and advanced their projects over eight weeks. The best one from each school qualified for the broader competition which judged these projects on presentation, innovation, technical understanding and other factors.
Winners received personal items such as laptops as well as monetary awards for improvements to their schools. The top three projects, selected by the students themselves, received personal items such as laptops as well as 12M, 8M, 4M pesos for improvements to their schools. GTE interviewed the regional winners from the Middle Magdalena Valley region to understand their experience in their own words.
The winning team from the Middle Magdalena Valley represented the Colegio Andrés Bello in San Martín, which included: Gerson Esteben Mora Cardenas; Madelin Perez Arevalo; Gerithxell Itzayana Arevalo Ojeda; Yesith Leyva Hernandez, Team Advisor; and Willetgardo Pena Sanchez, School Director.
Can you describe your project?
Gerson: “We designed a system that collects rainwater and routes it from gutters into grey water tanks that can be utilized to wash cars or water plants, etc.”
Madelin: “It’s a system that could be implemented in anyone’s house, requiring an investment up front but would save money in the long run.”
How did it feel to be the winners of MMV?
Gerithxell: “We were really proud when we won at the class level. We didn’t know what was waiting for us at the other levels. After the first round of the regional competition our nerves settled down, we started having fun, and luckily we were able to win for our school.”
What was it like to work with a company on an education initiative?
Yesith: “What struck me was the kindness of GTE’s people. They were so loving and caring that we all felt confident and secure. We wanted to win but were not expecting a physical prize – the students were most motivated by competing and winning.”
“When we heard about PetrolCopa, we were excited because it had to do with the preservation of natural resources. It is a huge initiative because the students get to go beyond the theory and put their projects into practice. We want to express our gratitude for this novel program that strengthens interest in learning among students and teachers.”ALVARO HERMAN APRAEZ YELA, Director of the Institution Educativa Amazonica, a public school in Puerto Guzmán
“People began to believe in this PetrolCopa when the students told us about what they were learning, and we realized the program was well organized and meeting its promises.”OLGA LUCIA PLATA, English teacher, San Martín
Gran Tierra en Mi Vereda
On weekends in San Martín, one can find magic tricks, singing, dancing and comedy bringing joy to different neighbourhoods across the city. This is the Circo Magico, conceptualized and produced by a group of youth from the city who use the circus to teach young people community-building values.
The Circo Magico is one of the activities sponsored by GTE through Gran Tierra en Mi Vereda (Gran Tierra in my Neighbourhood), a program which strengthens relationships and understanding through recreation, community service and cultural exchange. In 2019, thousands of people participated in the program in Middle Magdalena Valley and Putumayo.
Throughout 2018, Gran Tierra focused on combining different social investment programs in the Middle Magdalena Valley (Encontrándo Líderes) and Putumayo (Creando Oportunidades) near where GTE operates to establish a single project, Emprender Paga. The program has become one of Gran Tierra’s main social investment projects by fostering local business development through entrepreneurship and self-employment.
This initiative was created in response to the desire of communities to recover from economic stagnation and to adopt a sustainable development strategy by rebuilding the productive capacity of their territory. Through a combination of classroom learning and hands-on experience, Emprender Paga is an education and business development program that empowers individuals, associations and community groups to develop a vision; gain confidence in their abilities; create business plans; build a team; collaborate effectively and grow successful businesses. Emprender Paga is intended not only to foster economic growth, but it also promotes strengthening values like inclusion, lawfulness and solidarity among participants. The program supported entrepreneurship and leadership in communities close to GTE’s operations in the Middle Magdalena Valley. In 2019, 400 entrepreneurs were supported as they created business plans and 123 businesses were provided seed capital to strengthen their businesses. Of the 400 entrepreneurs supported by the Emprender Paga program in 2019, 74% were women.
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Encouraging and Enabling Local Suppliers
As Gran Tierra increases its field operations, economic benefits flowing to local businesses and communities are also growing. GTE’s Fair Bidding Process and other procurement procedures are designed to maximize opportunities for local and regional communities.
Gran Tierra is committed to:
- Comply with all national laws.
- Share the same information with all potential bidders, including strong tender documents and clear and fair rules about the proposal process.
- GTE will inform each vendor about the results of the bidding process, and bidders can request additional information to help them understand what they need to do to improve their chances in the future.
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Mocoa Relief Effort
In August 2018, Mocoa was again affected by heavy rain and flooding which displaced many families and compromised the infrastructure around Mocoa and Villagarzón. Gran Tierra responded quickly by providing emergency relief, flood mitigation and rebuilding projects with commitments totaling over USD$62,000. Gran Tierra distributed over USD$45,000 in emergency relief support and undertook the following actions:
- Provided materials to repair the Villagarzón aqueduct, this repair benefited 10,914 people.
- Provided equipment and gravel to fix an emergency exit road, this repair benefited 1,800 people.
- Provided clean drinking water.
- Provided emergency kits to 30 communities in Mocoa.
- Supplied 169 elementary students with school kits so they could continue to attend school.
- Plotted all related maps for the Mocoa Risk Committee & CORPORAMAZONIA so they could better understand the effects of flooding.
In the longer term, Gran Tierra continues to provide support through a commitment of USD$17,586 to help families as they rebuild. Gran Tierra is undertaking this project alongside Vetra who has pledged USD$10,345 and the Mayor of Mocoa. Through this project 48 Mocoa residents will see their homes restored.
Gran Tierra Energy is committed to helping our neighbouring communities by providing the necessary support needed in times of crisis.
Heavy rain during the early morning of April 1, 2017 caused catastrophic flooding and mudslides in Mocoa, the regional capital of the Putumayo Department, resulting in the tragic loss of over 300 lives and major damage to the city’s infrastructure.
Immediately starting on April 1, 2017, Gran Tierra provided assistance to the disaster recovery and relief efforts. Our initial focus was to assist the Government and rescue teams. We delivered over 20 tons of food and water and more than 5 tons of goods and basic necessities to the impacted areas. Gran Tierra also provided equipment, civil works and infrastructure to help with the re-opening of roads and assisted in the reconstruction of bridges to allow the entry of humanitarian aid to Mocoa. Gran Tierra also provided electricity to the regional hospital and the Mocoa mayor's office building, as well as transported a water treatment plant from Bogotá to Mocoa. We cooperated and coordinated with the national and regional Governments to implement infrastructure projects to support Mocoa’s recovery.
Gran Tierra Energy, along with our partners, responded to the crisis and supported the immediate recovery in the following ways:
- Contributed more of 5 tons of goods and basic necessities.
- Provided 90 feeding kits and 3,000 litres of bottled water.
- Provided remittances for 25 families (10 people per family) for 5 days.
- Provided 4 deliveries of household supplies including: sheets, blankets, emergency tents and mattresses.
- Employees collected and donated 25 boxes of clothes and non-perishable food.
- Supplied 120,000 gallons of water daily for the hospital and neighborhoods.
- Supplied more than 4,000 gallons of fuel for airport support, power plants and to operate the machinery for road improvement.
- Contributed electricity to the Hospital and to the Mocoa Mayor's Office building.
- Assisted in the reconstruction of bridges with rig mats (platforms and structures) to allow the entry of humanitarian aid to Mocoa.
- Provided equipment, civil works and infrastructure to help with the re-opening of roads.
- Mobilized electrical experts to carry out a study of the state of the Electrical System of the Junín Station and managed measures to fix it.
- Provided transportation for the delivery of food, for rescue teams and for members of the government commission.
- Provided additional transportation support including helicopters, light and heavy trucks and airplane tickets.
- Transported a water treatment plant from Bogotá to Mocoa.
The President and CEO of Gran Tierra Energy, Gary Guidry, also announced a matching program hours after the tragedy, whereby any donation made by employees would be matched dollar for dollar by the Company. The total donation raised was over $126,000,000 COP from employees in Colombia, Canada, members of the Board of Directors and the matching contribution from Gran Tierra Energy.
Computer Classroom Donation to the Colegio Ciudad Nueva Mocoa Institution
With the funds GTE raised after the Mocoa disaster a donation of a computer classroom was made to the Colegio Ciudad Nueva Mocoa educational institution.
Located in the direct impact zone of the disaster, Colegio Ciudad Nueva Mocoa was one of the most affected schools – 80% of the school population lives in the worst hit neighbourhoods.
This initiative was requested by the Mocoa community in order to strengthen education and digital literacy in the region. Once the computer room was built, it was equipped with 20 computers, Microsoft Office licenses, a video projector and screen, tables, chairs, and air conditioning for the room. Additionally, the donation included a series of entrepreneurship workshops to provide graduating students with tools to formulate business ideas.
Caliyaco Rural Education Centre
Gran Tierra Energy also made a donation to the Caliyaco Educational Centre. This school is located in the village of Caliyaco in Mocoa, Putumayo, and was also devastated by the impact of the disaster.
After analyzing and discussing the various needs and priorities that the educational institution required after the disaster, it was decided to support the school by providing building and construction material, new kitchen appliances and furniture, office equipment, as well as computers and a printer.
Through this donation, the Caliyaco Rural Education Centre was able to reintegrate students back to school in a positive way.
“This donation is very important for the educational community, because it helps to provide better service and at the same time improves the quality of the education that the students receive; we express our thanks for this huge and timely support.”Raul Escobar, Director CER Caliyaco