Project of the Week: Oro Verde

IdeaMe is an online platform, which helps creators, be they inventors, artists, or designers, among others, to finance their projects through crowd funding. The Indy features and promotes one project every week, with the aim of helping the creators finance and achieve their dreams.

Stretching from Panama down Colombia’s Pacific coast and into northern Ecuador, the Chocó bioregion is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. It is home to 9,000 plant species, 200 species of mammal, 600 of birds, 100 of reptiles, and 120 of amphibians. A quarter of all its species are found nowhere else in the world, and 36 of them, sadly, are endangered.

Oro Verde (photo courtesy of Ideame)

Oro Verde (photo courtesy of Ideame)

The region is also home to approximately 99% of Colombia’s afro-descendants, a community that has historically made its living as artisanal gold and platinum miners. For the last decade, the Oro Verde Initiative has partnered with these communities to connect them with the international market, ensure their continued eco-friendly mining techniques (without the use of harmful chemicals), and generate revenue to be invested in development projects.

Oro Verde inspired the world’s first and only “Fairtrade & Fairmined” international certification label for small-scale, environmentally-aware mining, allowing consumers to purchase gold and platinum with a clear conscience.

The overwhelming rise in the value of gold over the last decade, however, has brought conflict and environmental destruction to the Chocó region; an influx of large-scale mining operations in the area, legal or otherwise, has destroyed 70% of the forest and dumped millions of tonnes of mercury and cyanide into the rivers. Wealth from the precious metals funds the armed conflict that has ravaged the Colombian countryside for the last half-century, and threatens the Afro-Colombian miners’ traditional way of life.

In order to compete with these large-scale mining operations and preserve both the environment and the communities of the Chocó, Oro Verde’s next step is to launch an online auction platform, connecting miners directly with consumers and thus increasing their revenue. Greater revenue means more development and preservation initiatives in the Chocó, and could eliminate the need to rent their ancestral lands to big mining corporations for short-term profit.

Oro Verde is seeking funding through IdeaMe in order to create and launch the online auction, generate publicity, implement geographical reference technology to monitor the miners’ land, and collect working capital for the purchase of metals. The Oro Verde Auction is an “Everything Helps” project, meaning that all donations will go towards achieving the group’s aims, even if the desired financial goal isn’t reached.

A donation of $98 gets you an Oro Verde postcard signed by one of the many artisanal miners benefitting from the initiative. Meanwhile, $6,125 (for the deep-pocketed and extremely generous) secures your status as guest of honour on a 4-day visit to the Chocó to experience life with the miners, food, lodging, and transportation included (not including airfare).

To donate to the Oro Verde auction, visit their IdeaMe page here.

To read more about the Oro Verde Initiative, visit their website here.

Content originally appeared at The Argentina Independent.

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