Gran Tierra Energy is committed to respect the rights of employees, contractors, suppliers, and communities within its area of influence in the development of all of its operations and activities.

Although primary responsibility for the protection of human rights lies with government, GTE promotes and respects these rights through joint actions between society, business and institutions. Through a Human Rights Risk Assessment process, we evaluate how our activities may impact communities. We engage with local communities to understand their human rights concerns and address incidents through dialogue and remedial action, if appropriate. We have established a culturally appropriate, accessible, responsive and transparent grievance mechanism that enables us to identify and address human rights incidents. GTE also has an open-door policy for dialogue with communities near its operations and a well-developed process for resolving any questions or concerns.

In 2019, Gran Tierra Energy revised and updated its Human Rights Policy. It was developed with a full commitment to respect the internationally recognized human rights incorporated in the International Bill of Human Rights and the International Labor Organization Conventions (“ILO”), including the fundamental rights principles established in the ILO Declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work. Also, with the commitment to apply relevant international standards including:

  • The United Nations (“UN”) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights the United Nations (“UN”)
  • The UN Voluntary Principles for Security and Human Rights
  • The OECD guidelines for multinational companies
  • The due diligence guide for responsible business conduct of the OECD
  • The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Gran Tierra´s Code of Business Conduct & Ethics
What are the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights? The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights is a multi-stakeholder initiative with government, civil society and company participants. It promotes implementation of a set of principles that guide extractive companies on how to provide security for their operations in a manner that respects human rights.
What are the Guiding Principles of the United Nations on Business and Human Rights? The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are the authoritative global standard on business and human rights, unanimously endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council. The 31 principles set expectations of states and companies about how to prevent and address negative impacts on human rights by business.

There are three main stakeholders when it comes to Gran Tierra’s Corporate Human Rights Policy:

  • Employees, Contractors and Suppliers: All employees and contractors receive human rights training. Employees are also trained in the prevention of human rights violations inside and outside the company. Contractors will be required to train their employees to prevent such practices. Employees are supported by a full-time human rights attorney whose job is to ensure that everything the company undertakes, complies with the Voluntary Principles on Human Rights. All GTE employees, contractors and suppliers have the obligation of knowing and respecting the Human Rights policy.
  • Local Communities: GTE is committed to a transparent, culturally appropriate and accessible grievance and claim mechanisms that will help facilitate an effective response to any potential incident related to Human Rights.
  • State Institutions: GTE will maintain an open dialogue with the local, regional and national government regarding security and Human Rights issues related to the operation. GTE will keep track of Human Rights investigations related to Company operations, and report to the authorities as soon as it becomes aware of any incident.

Engaging Leading Human Rights Experts

GTE and renowned business and human rights experts Shift collaborated in 2019 to identify and work to address human rights issues related to GTE’s business operations and value chain. Shift is the leading centre of expertise on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). The nonprofit organization is chaired by John Ruggie who authored the Guiding Principles during his mandate as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative on business & human rights.

Between February and June 2019, GTE worked with Shift to review its national and local human rights context, company policies and previous social impact evaluations. Shift introduced GTE staff to a methodology for effectively assessing human rights risks. Shift also facilitated discussions with GTE’s management, corporate responsibility personnel and other field staff at the company’s operations sites in Putumayo and the Middle Magdalena Valley, in order to build additional capacity within the company for managing human rights issues.

Shift also participated in a multi-stakeholder dialogue organized by Gran Tierra in Bogotá, that included government entities and regulatory bodies, diplomats and representatives of other companies. Part of the dialogue involved asking participants to discuss the impacts of the relevant human rights issues from their perspectives. The event is just one example of efforts by Gran Tierra to continue supporting and participating in a very important conversation about human rights in Colombia.

Protecting Human Rights in a Post-Conflict Environment

In 2018, Gran Tierra was invited to participate in the United Nations Forum, the largest annual meeting focusing on business and human rights, held in Geneva, Switzerland. This Forum serves as a global platform to promote dialogue and cooperation on issues related to corporations, human rights and how companies can apply the best international standards in their practices.

GTE continues to take actions at multiple levels to guide its human rights practices:

  • It is referencing the guiding principles of the UN, Colombian public policy best practices and OECD Dispositions.
  • Based on the results of a human rights risk assessment it conducted in 2017, it is consolidating its human rights and business strategies, with the objective of securing the company’s reputation as the national leader in its approach to human rights.
  • GTE also prioritizes having a proactive approach to gender equality/parity and supporting vulnerable populations, such as Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and children.

Our Commitment to Human Rights in Action

Supporting Colombia’s Reintegration and Reincorporation Efforts

A number of GTE’s efforts are focused on supporting the Colombian government’s reintegration of ex-combatants back into Colombian society. The dynamics of post-conflict situations are complex, but the objective is simple: to support the country’s efforts at achieving a lasting peace. Creating economic opportunities is one of the critical issues facing the reintegration of 13,000 ex-combatants back into Colombian society.

A successful reintegration and peace process will help strengthen the civil society and the economic underpinnings of the country. GTE’s contributions to reintegration are focused on several challenges including; addressing the development of a sustainable cacao industry and protecting at-risk youth from recruitment into criminal groups.

GTE has been recognized for its commitment to multiple human rights projects supporting Colombia’s reintegration efforts by the Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization (ARN).

Preventing Child Recruitment in Putumayo

Gran Tierra, the FC Barcelona Foundation and Colombia’s Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization (ARN), continued their strategic alliance to increase resilience in vulnerable children and reduce their susceptibility to two important Human Rights concerns in the area: substance abuse and militia recruitment.

The project, Sports as a Guarantee for Human Rights, has benefited 356 girls and boys from several neighbourhoods in Puerto Asís with ages ranging from six to sixteen-years-old. The participants include vulnerable populations, children living in poverty and descendants of Afro-Indigenous minorities.

Financed by GTE, the program is implemented by the Youth Violence Prevention Program of the Barça Foundation and uses football as a unifying tool for children to learn about conflict resolution, prosocial behaviour development and other important life skills. Expected long-term outcomes include stronger, more stable communities, greater education attainment, increased employment and positive health indicators.

The project is being carried out by the FC Barcelona Foundation through their program called “FutbolNet”, which uses sport as an educational tool to promote life skills to vulnerable children and young people. It teaches important values such as: humility, solidarity, effort, ambition, respect and teamwork. The FC Barcelona Foundation has implemented FutbolNet in 51 countries around the world and has been recognized for their ability to use football as a vehicle for reductions in forced child recruitment, conflict resolution and community normalization in post-conflict communities.

In 2021, the project will expand into Villagarzón in the department of Putumayo, and San Martín in the department of Cesar.

Combating Child Exploitation in Puerto Asís

As part of its commitment to support human rights in Colombia, in 2017 Gran Tierra provided financial support for an education and advocacy campaign to prevent child and adolescent prostitution in Puerto Asís, one of the largest cities in the Putumayo Department. The campaign—“Respect my Childhood, My Body is Priceless” is led by the human rights NGO, Fundación Sonrisas de Amor y Paz.

A broad educational campaign was conducted, reaching 85% of the nearly 70,000 residents through public service announcements on radio, television, digital, theater, as well as in-person visits to families, educational institutions and community leaders. In addition, a number of stakeholders throughout the community—including youth, parents, companies, NGOs and government entities—were mobilized to focus attention on preventing gender based violence as well as child and adolescent prostitution throughout the area. These activities created opportunities for leaders at the municipal level to actively participate in preventing this problem, which had largely persisted in the shadows for years.

Addressing Legacy Threats to Human Safety

One of the most significant Human Rights threats throughout Colombia is the prevalence of anti-personnel mines and other explosive devices that are an unfortunate legacy of the decades-long conflict in the country.

To address this risk in southern Putumayo where the company undertakes exploration and development activities, GTE launched a Humanitarian Demining Pilot Project in 2019. The project is conducted under the standards of the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines and is being implemented by the Colombian Campaign Against Mines (ContraMinas), an accredited international organization assigned by Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace.

Significant progress was made in 2020, with 7,752 additional hectares of land investigated and declared free of contamination. To date, 285 antipersonnel mines, improvised explosive devices and unexploded munitions have been discovered and cleared.

GTE’s goal is to certify Puerto Asís free of mines, removing a major legacy threat to public safety in the area.

Demining Putumayo

The demining process requires careful execution, deploying teams of deminers working five days a week. Because of the team’s careful training and expertise, there have been no injuries during this work.

  • The first step is establishing a connection and a joint plan with the community, so the team can bring equipment into the field and identify any mines in the area.
  • A technical team then goes into the region with the full blessing of the community to mark the areas for inspection.
  • Mine detecting tools are then used to detect and mark the precise location of any metal object up to several feet below the surface. The vegetation is cleared, allowing for excavation and disarmament to be completed by highly trained munitions experts.

Hosting a Workshop to Support Local Leaders

Some of the greatest human rights challenges in Colombia today are the threats to security and safety often faced by social leaders in certain areas of the country. In 2018, Gran Tierra created the social workshop, Human Rights and Security for Community Leaders. This workshop was an additional human rights resource aimed at developing self-care, prevention, and public safety risk management skills for community leaders.

Human Rights and Security for Community Leaders was offered by Gran Tierra in San Martín and in Puerto Asís, where 50 beneficiaries have participated.

Social leader Libya Criollo, pictured with her eight-year-old son, leads a committee that manages job opportunities, payments and training on behalf of three communities near the town of Puerto Asís.

The most important aspect of our relationship with the company is respect. We are grateful for having here such responsible and respectful members of Gran Tierra’s social team that we can work with and who are supporting the community. Gran Tierra is the only large company in this area, and it provides jobs, additional income and training for our communities.The workshop provided information on what to do in case of threats or emergency.”


Municipal Representative (Ombudsman) Daniel Cordoba is a lawyer who provides a vital local link between the state, the people responsible for the defense of human rights and the community in the San Martín area. He and his fellow representatives across the country who fulfill the role of “personeros,” Spanish for community advocates, also play the role of neutral mediators during disputes. Daniel has been threatened, a fact that he attributes to misconceptions about the role he plays in the community.

Gran Tierra should be commended for forging positive relations here. The workshop they hosted was very good. Communities and leaders were educated about their rights and provided with tools to help them in their work.

DANIEL CORDOBA, Municipal Representative (Ombudsman),
San Martín