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Sustainable Society

Recycling, improved waste management, and bicycles are just a few keys to building a sustainable Galapagos. (Photo Copyrigted by Ralph Lee Hopkins)

Developing a Sustainable Society

The town of Puerto Ayora on the island of Santa Cruz is the island hub of Galapagos tourism. (© Heidi Snell)

The challenge. The resident population in Galapagos has grown rapidly since the 1970s, primarily through migration from the Ecuadorian mainland. Today, 75% of those living in Galapagos migrated from outside of the archipelago, drawn by expectation of better economic opportunity (2010 Ecuador Census). Until recently, the capacity of the regional government and local municipalities in the areas of regional planning and the provision of public services has been limited and there have been few civil society organizations (non-profits and voluntary organizations) to complement the work of national, regional and local agencies. Residents have relied heavily on the importation of food (in particular, imported produce—on of the leading source of invasive species) and often seek to replicate lifestyles on the mainland (reliance on cars and trucks; heavy use of electricity; preference for non-native species in gardening; mainland construction techniques, etc.) which are often at odds with the environment. The education system in the islands has been unable to develop the basic and professional skills demanded in the local economy or the deep understanding and appreciation of Galapagos that is needed for residents to become champions of conservation.  

Strengthening teacher skills and successfully implementing Ecuador's new national curriculum are important steps towards building a local conservation ethic.

Our approach. Long-term protection of Galapagos requires an economic system that is compatible with biodiversity conservation, an educational system that prepares citizens to be stewards of the archipelago, and a strong civil society dedicated to and engaged in Galapagos conservation. With this in mind, we are working with local non-profits, including the Scalesia Foundation and Fundar Galapagos, municipal governments, the Governing Council, the Charles Darwin Foundation, and the private sector to support:

  • Educational reform (with a focus on establishing examples of best practices in Galapagos classrooms and professional development for Galapagos teachers and administrators)
  • Capacity building in areas such as sustainable agriculture and environmental management
  • Citizen engagement in public dialogue and decision making through public fora, citizen science and community action group

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