Almost every inhabitant of the Colombian Amazon has an interesting story to tell about his home, one of the most amazing places in the world. This beautiful place of natural abundance certainly provided survival experiences, "exotic" food, “extreme” recreation and a unique livelihood to him. However, his character and future were formed in a context of poverty, harsh violence, restricted opportunities, geographical disparities and gender inequity. Almost everyone has loved and has lived under the magic of the Amazon, but has also lost loved ones directly by armed conflict or indirectly by the weakness of the State in law enforcement or in providing services to meet basic needs.
Let me share one of my stories. I was raised in one of the most wonderful places in the Amazonian region of Colombia, the Putumayo basin. When I was a teenager, my parents bought a plot of land near to an indigenous protected area in Mocoa. There, I met Arcadio, a shy indigenous boy from the Inga ethnic group. We were good friends. With him and his siblings, I played to find wild animals, slide down muddy roads and climb in the tree house in the towering rainforest canopy. We ate food obtained from hunting and cultivation of native species. One day, as a birthday gift he gave me a necklace he made with porcupine spines that still I have it. Our lives were different but shared a similar reality; the Amazon already had defined them. When we grew up we never saw again. Eight years ago Arcadio was killed. His crime has not been solved but it was presumably related to the fact that he as his community leader denounced the invasion of their territory and plunder of the natural resources there. His family lost a pillar for "life-sustaining" in the words of his community and a hope for promotion of the "human sustainable development" in the words of the non-indigenous. I lost the star of one of my best memories. Similar stories are very common in my region.
I have witnessed the loss of the natural wealth of the Amazon and the struggle of a society to find a better future in the midst of difficulties. This environmental and social context has always encouraged me to progress for myself, my family who lives there, and the rest of the society there. Having earned my undergraduate degree in Microbiology and my master’s degree in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics allowed me to work for nearly eight years in public goals oriented to sustainability. In my professional work I noticed that we are losing the fight against environmental degradation, despite the efforts of Colombian institutions inspired by Rio de Janeiro Convention. I would like to do something about that considering my skills and my personality. I believe that my academic and professional background have enlighten my pathway to earn a PhD degree in Sustainable Development and become a pioneer woman in the Colombian Amazon region to reach a doctoral degree.
I studied Microbiology not only by my great interest...