Catalina Cock Duque

Ashoka Fellow
Colombia,
Fellow Since 2004
Corporación Oro Verde Fundación Amigos del Chocó

Citation

This profile was prepared when Catalina Cock Duque was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
In Chocó, gold mining can be a hugely profitable business, but has devastating consequences for the people who live near the mines. Catalina and her partners are working to turn that around, making gold-mining profitable and safe for ordinary people. She is doing this by encouraging the people themselves to take up gold-mining instead of just selling the rights to mine gold to large companies.
Although small scale miners can’t compete with large corporations in terms of quantity, Catalina realized that they might be able to appeal to a niche market for “green gold” mined in an environmentally friendly manner. Savvy and socially conscious consumers around the world worry about their purchasing choices and are eager for assurances that the products they buy are not made by at the expense of the environment. A certification process looks at extraction methods and designates fair prices, so that when customers buy a certified gold product they know that neither the environment nor the local population was exploited in its manufacture.
At the same time, the Green Gold initiative is reviving viable artisan techniques for mining environmentally friendly “green” gold, so that local people living on mineral-rich lands can take advantage of this new certification system by setting up their own mining operations. Finally, Catalina has also created a nonprofit organization, Corporación Oro Verde, to buy gold at fair prices, eliminating the intermediaries who would otherwise take out a large chunk of the profits and make small-time mining nonviable. The corporation is an essential part of the strategy, as it incorporates not only the production but facilitates the sales of “green gold”.
These two components were socialized with local organizations and communities that were interested in the program, becoming the Colombian Coalition for Green Gold.
In 2000, this relationship was made formal with the constitution of Green Gold Corporation. This was determined to be the ideal structure to produce Certified Green Gold, with an organization in which their members have well-defined roles which are indispensable for the success of the program. They are:• Major community councils of Condoto and Tadó and Foundation Las Mojarras, as base communities that are in charge of management of collective territories, the local coordination of the projects, the organization strengthening, the sponsor, follow up and advise to certified miners.• The Foundation Amigos del Chocó performs the linking role between local, national, and international development of fair green markets, spreading of experience, and sensitizing through communication and environmental education, research, and management of networks and strategic alliances• The IIAP articulates research processes of the different actors in the territory of the region. Within the program, green gold has the certification function as an independent entity, validates transfer of new technologies and co-validates the ethnotechnology ancestrally used.
As in a machine, each organization is a key piece of the structure, and success is only possible with the coordinated work of all actors.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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