Sustainable Development

The town of Minca, known as the "Ecological Capital of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta", has one of the highest levels of biodiversity and wildlife endemism in the world: however, the uncontrolled development of tourism in recent years affects the sustainable natural balance in the town.

Therefore, Mission Gaia has decided to unite the efforts of the actors to make a more sustainable town, capable of leading the change of attitudes and behaviors and improving the quality of life in general.

Mission Gaia works in four areas:

  • Sustainable development of tourism through waste management

  • Harzadous waste collection

  • Solidarity & cooperation based tourism

  • Mango Jam


We aim to work hand in hand with touristic businesses, community groups, tourists and schools in Minca to turn them into leading examples for the local sustainable development. Therefore, we are putting in place a project that helps local businesses to design a personalized plan to adopt more sustainable business practices and management and reduce single plastic use in this location.


  • The steep increase in tourism and tourist-oriented businesses in and around the village.

  • New businesses often open uncontrolled or unsupervised by public authorities.

  • Increased levels of production, consumption result in rapid resource exhaustion and multiplication of waste.

  • The short-term and main focus on immediate profit often makes businesses lose focus on important factors such as sustainability.


  • Promote best practices for sustainability among touristic businesses in Minca.

  • Create tools that allow to reduce negative impacts of the touristic business regarding economic, social and environmental conditions;

  • Design and stablish a medium-term educational plan that increases the levels of knowledge, awareness, skills and aspirations of touristic business owners regarding the economic, social and environmental impact of their business.

"Best Practices in Tourism Management for sustainability"

Mission Gaia has been working on the development of a strategy to provide tourism enterprises with materials and educational tools on the implementation of sustainable solid waste management practices based on national regulations. By increasing theoretical and practical knowledge and applying sustainable practices, Mission Gaia aims to bridge the gap between awareness and action in the hope of triggering long-term behavioural change in the tourism sector.

In the short term, the objectives are:

  • To provide educational tools to 50% of host companies to acquire theoretical and applied knowledge on sustainable business practices.

  • Facilitate the implementation of sustainable solid waste management practices in 50% of tourism enterprises.

In the long term, the objective is to reduce the negative environmental impacts of host tourism enterprises in Minca.


We are always looking to improve our impact and strategies. Working on the project to reduce the negative impacts of tourism offers a great opportunity for a Research Project about Sustainable Tourism. We are calling pre- and post graduate students from national and international universities to come in a regular basis to help us to develop the project. You can also be a part of this!

Contact us for more information!



  • The presence of waste and hazardous materials in natural areas and water sources have negative effects on the local biodiversity

  • The lack of infrastructure; such as public bins for the waste generated in town

  • The lack of any system of solid waste management and classification, leads to the accumulation of excessive trash in public areas, where abandoned animals (like dogs and donkeys) rip open the plastic bags looking for food

  • The negative impacts on local tourism development due to the accumulation of trash in tourism sites

  • The negative effects on human health; such as diseases generated by the irresponsible disposal of plastic


  • Reduce the amount of waste generated in Minca and give value to the waste generated by local businesses and institutions

  • Collect and ensure the correct disposal of hazardous materials; such as batteries and used vegetable oil

  • Promote the management and selective disposal of solid waste through the implementation of tools, infraestructure and awareness-raising.


  • Implementamos un centro acopio de prueba, clasificamos y transportamos más de 2.5 toneladas de material reciclado.

  • Alianzas con la asociación de recicladores en Santa Marta y con Recopila para una eliminación adecuada de baterías

  • Hemos organizado varios talleres comunitarios sobre prácticas sostenibles, como la gestión de residuos

  • Hemos participado en más de 12 limpiezas comunitarias con los residentes locales y la policía en Minca

  • Hemos desarrollado campañas educativas para niños y jóvenes utilizando el arte como una herramienta pedagógica y el desperdicio como material primario

  • Hemos involucrado las instituciones públicas, como la policía y la escuela local y más de 14 empresas locales

  • Hemos instalado un punto limpio piloto para la recolección selectiva de residuos

  • Actualmente recolectamos el aceite de cocina usado en Minca

Environment project : " Minca Limpia "

In January 2015, we launched a project for a collection point for the selective sorting of waste in Minca. After implementing the selective collection route supported by the mayor's office, we closed the collection center to strengthen awareness processes with the participation of some local companies, institutions, residents and visitors.

We are currently working to seek funding for our project, which seeks to reduce the amount of waste by selectively sorting and reducing single-use plastics and valuing the waste generated.

Through the implementation of a project of selective management of organic waste for Minca, we seek to value the waste and reduce by at least 50% the waste generated.

We propose a collaborative plan with various local partners where we base ourselves on the strategy of the three Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle) while generating raw materials usable for agriculture.

At this time, we are looking for allies and sponsors who want to partner and collaborate with us to solve one of the biggest problems facing Minca and the Sierra Nevada: optimal waste management.

If you are interested in participating, please email us at


Research opportunity

We are always looking to improve our impact and strategies. Working on the project, "Minca Limpia," offers a great opportunity for a Research Project about Waste Management.

Contact us!

We are looking to partner with national and international universities, institutions and governmental organizations to recruit interns for this program.

Find more information here!

Would you like to become a volunteer?

Find more information here!


We are aiming to promote cultural exchange and local cooperation by developing programs with volunteers and professional interns focused on Scientific, Academic, Volunteer and Educational (SAVE) travel.

In order to promote mutual understanding, we also provide Spanish classes.


Tourism is rapidly becoming popular and represents both a risk and an opportunity for the local community. Solidarity tourism benefits not only local economies, but also often leads to national economic benefits by helping to improve the capacity of educational, scientific and cultural institutions.

The economic benefits generated by this type of tourism tend to be more widely distributed than those arising from mass tourism.


  • Work with volunteers and interns throughout the year.

  • Engage with our community about the growing tourism industry by offering life and learning experiences.

  • Develop plans to support sustainable development.


  • Create awareness of the importance of responsible tourism through social media, local initiatives and community engagement.

  • Expand our volunteer and internship program by increasing the range of SAVE travel products and through collaboration agreements with other environmental and educational organizations.

  • Increase the number of foreigners learning Spanish to encourage and facilitate cultural exchange.


Participants in our programs are motivated to engage in travel experiences that include a close relationship with the nature, culture and people of the desired destination in a way that contributes to their knowledge or involves the improvement of the particular destination. This is the kind of tourists we, Mission Gaia, are looking for.

If you feel identified with what you are reading and would like to travel, contact us!

Would you like to become a SAVE traveler?

Find more information here!


Misión Gaia promotes the commercialization of organic and natural products made by local producers from the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta. We want to inform visitors about their power to make a difference by purchasing fair and local trade as an ecologic and economic alternative.


  • Local producers struggle to compete with the bigger industries

  • There is a large amount of small producers in the region; covering almost all needs from food to garmets

  • As natural resources are growing scarce, it is important to raise awareness about the benefits of environmentally friendly behavior and consumption habits

  • Adopting a more natural lifestyle is more than a trend but a real sustainable act: consuming organic and natural products encourages the alternative economy and helps preserve the planet


  • Help develop the local economy by collaborating with more producers of Minca and other villages in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta

  • Inform visitors about the importance of buying local and organic products


  • Collaborate with local producers and connect them with residents of Minca, local visitors and foreigners

  • Manage a small shop that provides local, natural and organic products

  • Raise awareness among visitors about how they support our different programs of sustainable development and education, but also the local economy by shopping with us