Planet Diversity World Congress on the Future of Food and Agriculture

Of kids and sloths

The sloth, a cultural figure in the myths and stories of rural children of La Judía (Floridablanca) - photographer: Oswaldo Villamizar.

Author:    Claudia Gimena Roa
Organisation:    Fundación de Expresión Intercultural Educativa y Ambiental - FUNDAEXPRESIÓN
Location: Department of Santander, COLOMBIA, South America
Contact: roankine[at] / eco_ingles[at]

Sloths and Children pursue Awareness and Mutual Understanding - Biodiversity and Cultural Identity in Santander, Colombia

What significance do you give to a mammal such as the sloth? How many toes do they have, are they a fragile-being, or a furious monster ready to attack? All these fantastic questions came to light when we started a literary project with rural children who live near to the Andean rainforest of La Judía, an area renowned for its biodiversity and bountiful water resources, part of the municipality of Floridablanca, where I live.

The children tell us stories of trees, plants and birds, and on this occasion the myths about sloths. We heard versions of how these animals are hunted and displaced. And none too soon we could picture the tragic link to the situation of 3 million internal refugees in our country. The rural youth of Colombia are increasingly vulnerable to the socio-economic crisis, the influence of urbanization and the countries ongoing political conflict. Thus, for us innovative education and communication strategies are fundamental to strengthening cultural identity of young people, and a path towards reconstructing alternative life-projects.

Over many years now we have seen our wisdom of assuming biodiversity and inter-culturality within a territorial context. Community initiatives such as the Community Forest Reserve - Los Maklenkes and the Campesino School of Agroecology have reassured community self-dependence and solidarity based on food sovereignty and ecosystem sustainability. The life path is never-ending and as one of our story-tellers wrote:

“Once upon a time there existed food and water”, narrated the story-teller. “But water is also essentially food”, responded many voices of the peasants that claimed that water and food were and are only one. “Once upon a time there existed cultural identity and biodiversity”, the story-teller continued. Again the voices of the crowd cried-out: “we are, we are, still we are” ... and the rivers, mountains, forests and local people all awakened; all that was once born sacred and has lived freely for millions of years.


The community Andean rainforest reserve “Los
The community nature reserve has enhanced
awareness and potential to conserve and protect
biodiversity, reaffirming cultural identity and
sustainable alternatives for women and youth,
transforming this area into a guardian of the
Andean forest of La Judía - Floridablanca and
strengthening the paradigm of community
biodiversity conservation.

The Campesino School of Agroecology, an inspiration
for food sovereignty and seed recovery in the Soto
Province of Santander (Colombia).
The campesino of agroecology has permitted
rural communities from eight (8) municipalities
of the Soto Province to reassert and re-live the
principles of food sovereignty, social solidarity
and traditional use of biodiversity.

Of kids and sloths in SantanderOf kids and sloths in SantanderOf kids and sloths in SantanderOf kids and sloths in Santander

Local Organising Committee