- Sustainable Tourism Development
- Waste Management
- SAVE travel: Solidarity tourism
- Fair & Local Trade
In 2018, 49 volunteers, of which 29 were Colombian and 20 from abroad, participated in the different sustainable development programs of Misión Gaia, resulting in a total of 4130 hours of volunteering.
To be able to continue to make progress, we are currently looking for a volunteer or intern to oversee the Minca Limpia project.
Are you interested?
SUSTAINABLE TOURISM DEVELOPMENT
We aim to work hand in hand with touristic businesses 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.
WHY IS THIS RESEARCH IMPORTANT?
- The steep increase of tourist numbers in Minca results in a rapid growth of tourist-oriented businesses in and around the village.
- New businesses often open uncontrolled or unsupervised by public authorities.
- Increased levels of production, consumption and inappropriate waste management result in rapid resource exhaustion and a multiplication of waste.
- The short-term and main focus on immediate profit often makes businesses lose focus on important factors such as sustainability.
- Understand the current situation of existing sustainability practices among tourist businesses in Minca.
- Assess the needs of the touristic business regarding economic, social and environmental conditions; knowledge, awareness, skills, aspirations and practices.
- Design 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.
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. Through 2019, pre- and post graduate students from the University of Externado in Bogotá will start to come in a regular basis to help us to develop the project. You can also be a part of this!
Environmental Project: "Minca Limpia"
We want to create a better system of waste management for Minca. With the rapid increase of tourism in the area, it has become an increasingly important issue. In January 2015, we launched a recycling project in Minca to combat the increasing waste issue. With the help of local businesses, institutions, residents and visitors, we are working to reduce the amount of waste produced, as well as place value on the waste generated, to protect the local diversity and water sources of Minca.
Project Update: Minca Limpia
Currently, we have just finished our pilot proposal of waste management for the urban area of Minca. In this, we propose a collaborative plan with several local allies based on the three R strategy (reduce, reuse and recycle) to reduce the amount of waste production through its transformation into raw materials for agriculture.
Right now, we are searching for allies and partners who want to join and collaborate with us to solve one of the biggest problems that Minca and the Sierra Nevada are facing: waste management.
If you are interested in getting involved, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Launched a local recycling project: collecting, sorting and transporting over 2.5 tons of recycled material to date
- Partnered with the Association of Recyclers in Santa Marta and Recopila for the proper disposal of batteries
- Hosted various community workshops on sustainable practices
- Participated in more than 12 community clean ups with the local residents and police in Minca
- Developed educational campaigns for children and young adults using art as a pedagogical tool and waste as a primary material
- Involved public institutions; including the police, local schools and more than 14 local businesses
- Installed the first "Punto Limpio": a public infrastructure for waste management, in Minca (see more details below)
- 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, light bulbs and oil
- Develop practical lessons to promote adequate waste management
- Actively participate in community activities for waste management
- Promote community management and selective arrangement of solid waste
- Increase the quantity of points to recycle and dispose in Minca
- Develop a local strategy for the reuse of organic waste utilizing a system of compost
- Implement activities with children focused on environmental issues
WHY IS THIS PROJECT IMPORTANT?
- The growth of tourism development in Minca increases the amount of waste generated
- 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
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.
Within the project, “Minca Limpia”, we have created a practical initiative for the residents of Minca to manage their waste properly. In March 2017, we installed a collecting and sorting point called "Punto Limpio". At this point, people dispose their waste and recycling in closed containers, preventing garbage to spread from varying external conditions (i.e. animals, weather, cars, people, etc); therefore, enabling public places to remain clean and attractive.
How does it work?
Punto Limpio consists of a basic infrastructure; a wooden box designated for waste disposal and a tank for recycled goods. Both containers are open all week to encourage use. This initiative remains new and we are actively in the process of improving the functionality of this space.
SAVE TRAVEL: SOLIDARITY TOURISM
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.
SAVE TRAVELER PROFILE
SAVE travelers are driven by the desire to engage in travel experiences involving close interaction with the nature, culture and people of the destination in ways that advance knowledge (their own or that of others) or that contribute to the enhancement of the destination. This is the kind of tourists that we, Mision Gaia, are searching for.
If you feel that this is you, contact us!
WHAT WE DO
- Work with volunteers and interns year-round.
- Engage with the community with regards to the growing tourism industry by providing travelers with both cultural and learning experiences.
- Develop plans for sustainable growth for tourism in Minca.
- 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.
WHY IS THIS PROJECT IMPORTANT?
- The rapidly growing tourism in Minca represents both a risk and an opportunity for the local community. It helps develop the economy and presents an opportunity for cultural exchange.
- SAVE activities benefit not only local economies, but also often lead to longer-term economic benefits at a national level by building the capacity of tourism, educational, scientific and cultural institutions.
- SAVE activities often involve insertion into local communities and/or activities in areas removed from mass tourism enclaves, the economic benefits tend to be more broadly distributed than those that arise from the mass tourism industry.
FAIR & LOCAL TRADE
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.
WHAT WE DO
- 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
- 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
WHY IS THIS PROJECT IMPORTANT?
- 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