Recycling, improved waste management, and bicycles are several ways to creating a sustainable Galapagos. Photo © Ralph Lee Hopkins
Developing a Sustainable Society
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 primarily by expectations of better economic opportunities (2010 Ecuador Census). The education system in the islands, one of the most important components in cultivating a sustainable society from the ground up, 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. 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 — one 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.
Our approach. Long-term protection of Galapagos requires an educational system that prepares citizens to be stewards of the Archipelago, an economic system that is compatible with biodiversity conservation, and a strong civil society dedicated to and engaged in Galapagos conservation. With this in mind, we are working with the Ministry of Education, local non-profits, 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)
- Development of enhanced capacity in areas such as sustainable agriculture, leadership, research and analysis, and environmental management
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