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“We are all agents of change.”

Ocean Witness Sandra shares her story

“By creating awareness for the problem as well as for the solution, we can find a way forward. Together.” Sandra Valenzuela about working together to preserve the oceans and the livelihood of Colombian communities depending on it.

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08 December 2017 | Cabo Manglares, Colombia

Sandra has been the planning and fundraising director of WWF Colombia for almost fourteen years. She has dedicated over twenty years of her career to a more peaceful Colombia – mainly by emphasizing the importance of conservation and supporting local communities. Her latest achievement has been her contribution to the newly designed protected mangrove area Cabo Manglares!

What does the ocean mean to you today?

In Colombia we have indigenous groups who live in the mountains. One of the most important rituals they have, is to go down to the ocean to clean, heal and reconnect to the world they live in. I very much relate to this belief. You can feel the energy of the ocean and how it heals you. That is at the same time amongst my first memories of the ocean – to travel from the mountains to the ocean, to heal myself and to gain energy again. And working with oceans again now, reminds me of the special feeling I have for the oceans.

What changes are you witnessing in the oceans?

In Colombia we are blessed to have a 50/50 % of land and ocean. We were never aware of the importance of our oceans, until we were on the verge of losing it due to a territorial dispute with Nicaragua. Nowadays, our waters became more polluted (due to plastic) and therefore our local communities became more vulnerable. With pollution and temperatures rising, the number of species is declining which results in less fish production for these communities. The good thing is that this has created room for discussion in Colombia, making us more aware of the importance of the ocean in our daily lives.

What is the impact of this change on the ocean?

We are able to come to agreements that would have never been possible a couple of years ago. People are more conscious of the importance and urgency of finding solutions together. We are not restricting, but respecting. For example, we show the benefits of our solutions and practices by including local fishermen, which has led to a great willingness to co-operate. Everyone is working together to save the ocean and its inhabitants.

“We should no longer wait for others to make changes. No matter how big or small the change you make, it counts. We are all agents of change.”
Sandra

What will the oceans look like in 2030?
In 2030, we strive to be more inclusive and promote comprehensive social development. Coastal communities should be included and listened. Marine production should be valued as part of the Colombian economy following principles of a sustainable development. We also want to stimulate other countries to do so. Our goal is to all be working together to preserve our oceans on both political and on local levels.

What would you like to say to other witnesses?
We should no longer wait for others to make changes. No matter how big or small the change you make, it counts. We are all agents of change.

About Sandra

Sandra has been the planning and fundraising director of WWF Colombia for almost fourteen years. She has dedicated over twenty years of her career to a more peaceful Colombia – mainly by emphasizing the importance of conservation and supporting local communities. Her latest achievement has been her contribution to the newly designed protected mangrove area Cabo Manglares!

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Sandra

Cabo Manglares, Colombia

Sandra has been the planning and fundraising director of WWF Colombia for almost fourteen years. She has dedicated over twenty years of her career to a more peaceful Colombia.