Latinoamerica Verde Awards

Puerto Santa Ana in Guayaquil was the venue for the fifth edition of the event: Latinoamerica Verde Awards (Green Latin America Awards), which each year strive to connect, exhibit and reward the best social-environmental projects of this region.

This year, the event included 2,733 initiatives from 713 cities; among them the best 500 projects were selected and 31 classified as finalists in ten categories aligned to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations Development Program.

We participated with our Galapagos Verde 2050 project, one of the finalists in the Water Category, the Shark Ambassador Outreach Project, and Mangrove Finch were selected in the top 500, ranked 192th and 402th respectively.


CDF stand with the representatives of Galápagos Verde, Shark Ambassadors and Mangrove Finch projects.
CDF stand with the representatives of Galápagos Verde, Shark Ambassadors Outreach and Mangrove Finch projects. Photo by: Juan Manuel García

Galapagos Verde 2050, our Charles Darwin Foundation project, won the DIRECTV award: "Protagonists”, that includes the production of a 30-minute documentary for being one of the most inspiring projects. DIRECTV, partner of the event, evaluated each project purpose, legacy, impact and ability to inspire positive change in order to select the winner. Our project aims to restore degraded ecosystems and implement agricultural practices to ensure the sustainability of the Galapagos Islands. Currently, more than 7,700 plants of 72 different species have been planted in 72 study areas in the Archipelago, thanks to water-saving technologies such as Groasis, Cocoon (biodegradable) and rain harvest.

"I felt immensely grateful to receive the DIRECTV Protagonist Award. It represents a great contribution of worldwide diffusion for our institution and, above all, it will help us in the pursuit of long-term funding to achieve the project sustainability" said Patricia Jaramillo, Project Leader, after achieving the recognition.

Patricia Jaramillo during the lecture about Galapagos Verde 2050 project.
Patricia Jaramillo during the lecture about Galapagos Verde 2050 project. Photo by: Juan Manuel García

The event that took place between August 14 and 16 involved public and private companies, non-governmental organizations and people from several social-environmental initiatives in Latin America. During these three days, the 500 best projects explained their stories, experiences and results. The different categories to classify the projects were: Water, Forests and Flora, Biodiversity and Fauna, Human Development, Social Inclusion and Inequality Reduction, Energy, Sustainable Finance, Urban Management, Solid Waste Management, Oceans and Production and Responsible Consumption.

Presentations about the Charles Darwin Foundation projects to the audience attending the event.
Presentations about the CDF projects to the audience attending the event. Photo by: Juan Manuel García

Each category had three finalists, who presented to the jury. The Charles Darwin Foundation had a stand in the “500 Best” gallery where our projects were showcased to the general public. In addition to the exhibitions, numerous activities were held throughout the days: a dialogue on green economy, a sustainable business platform and a conversation on gastronomy and conservation.

“500 Best” gallery
“500 Best” Gallery. Foto por: Juan Manuel García
Projects presentations during the event.
Projects presentations during the event. Photo by: Juan Manuel García

With great enthusiasm, nerves and excitement the participants attended the Awards Gala, where countries like Colombia, Mexico, Chile, Haiti and Guatemala received their awards. The event was presided by the Mayor of Guayaquil, Jaime Nebot, and included the presence of the President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, who congratulated the Galapagos Verde Project 2050 for being one of the two Ecuadorian finalist of this fifth edition.

Congratulations to all the projects involved!

The President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, during his speech at the Awards Gala.
The President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno, during his speech at the Awards Gala. Photo by: Juan Manuel García

For more information on how to donate for our projects visit our page Donate.

Felipe Cruz Bedón

Is with deep regret The Charles Darwin Foundation, its Board of Directors, Members of its General Assembly, staff members and volunteers send this note about the death of our friend and colleague, and ex Vice Director, Mr. Felipe Hernán Cruz Bedon which took place in Chile on the 9th of August 2018.

Team Felipe Cruz Bedón. Photo from: CDF Stock.
Team Felipe Cruz Bedón. Photo from: CDF Stock.

His brilliant contribution to the conservation of our World Heritage Site will always be remembered and honored in our hearts and minds.

Felipe was born in Floreana Island on April 22nd 1958, and was part of one of the first families of settlers from Ecuador who arrived to the archipelago, he leaves a big hole in the personal and professional space.

Galapagos expedition Felipe Cruz Bedón. Photo from: CDF Stock
Galapagos expedition Felipe Cruz Bedón. Photo from: CDF Stock

Felipe had a great passion for the islands, his knowledge, generosity and his motivation to share were unstoppable.

His legacy for the Galapagos society, local and international science and for his family, especially for his son Rashid Cruz is enormous.

Felipe Hernán Cruz. Photo from: CDF Archive
Felipe Hernán Cruz. Photo from: CDF Archive

Felipe was a very dedicated and passionate person, and will always be remembered and his memory honored in our hearts.
We express our deep sympathy to his family in these challenging moments.

Felipe Cruz

Today we had the honor of celebrating the life of our friend and partner of so many years, Felipe Cruz Bedón, who died in Chile on August 9, 2018.   

Tribute to Felipe Cruz.
Tribute to Felipe Cruz. Photo by: Paola Díaz

In a ceremony that took place at the Charles Darwin Research Station during this afternoon, his son Rashid Cruz Chesney, his mother Emma Bedón, his brothers, sisters, relatives and friends who met Felipe, got gather together to celebrate his life. 

Celebration of life Felipe Cruz
Celebration of life Felipe Cruz. Foto by: Paola Díaz

The event had a great attendance of the community of Galapagos and here Felipe was remembered with much affection. During the event several messages sent from around the world were read, attendees wrote messages for his son and family in the book to the tribute of his life.

Felipe Cruz.
Felipe Cruz. Photo from: CDF Archive

Felipe worked for the Charles Darwin Foundation for 32 years and contributed significantly to several conservation efforts on the Galapagos Islands of other institutions. No doubt, his leadership and passion for The Islands will always prevail.

In the event our Executive Director, Dr. Arturo Izurieta, mention that "the Charles Darwin Foundation has decided to name the Foundation Scholarship Program as the Scholarships for Education and Training Felipe Cruz in honor of his career as a scientist and his exemplary support to education and training in the archipelago."

Felipe Cruz and his team.
Felipe Cruz and his team. Photo from: CDF Archive

His nephew Gonzalo Banda Cruz, sent a message to be read. He comment how dozens of young people and adults, who are currently working in natural or social science, conservation, management, tourism, hospitality, veterinary, medicine, public administration , communication, art, agriculture, commerce, gastronomy; and several other fields, at some point of their pass through the islands were influenced and inspired by Felipe and his thought.

Paula Tagle Saad, member of the General Assembly of the Charles Darwin Foundation and editorialist of the newspaper El Universo, wrote an article about Felipe published on June 8, 2014:"The bird dodo: A dedicated ecologist", where she summarizes part of his great career.

Paula describes how Felipe, between 1978-1980 worked on his own project for the study of the petrel in Floreana and the control of introduced species. Felipe estimated 300 adult individuals, with only 10% reproductive success and high mortality. He presented a proposal to the WWF of the United States that financed him from 1981 to 1987. Although Felipe was a young man from unknown Floreana -a remote island in Ecuador- the WWF relied on its tenacity and knowledge and the project became one of the most interesting and widespread for the donors of this non-governmental organization. Since 1989, the Galapagos National Park is in charge of monitoring and control of this species, and today 5,000 adults are estimated in Floreana with a reproductive success of 80%.

After the petrel, and several other projects, Felipe dedicated himself to the eradication of goats in the Galapagos. He became the Technical Director of the Isabela Project, one of the most successful ecosystem restoration programs in the world. In the campaign from 1998 to 2006, he completely eradicated the pigs and goats in San Salvador Island, and in Isabela the population of goats was reduced from 100,000 to less than 60.

Felipe Cruz was Deputy Executive Director of the Charles Darwin Research Station. For the period of his administration, and together with the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park, he was manager of the captive breeding program of the mangrove finch, a species of which only remain less than 100 individuals.

Felipe Cruz Finch Project 1988.
Felipe Cruz Finch Project 1988 . Photo from: CDF Archive

Paula finally writes about the island Floreana, that saw him being born and was the first and constant love of Felipe, where one of his dreams was the repatriation of the unique mocking bird of that island. Due to the depredation by introduced species, these birds survive only in satellite rocks and islets, being no more than three hundred individuals. The population of rats and cats is controlled, and the next step is to bring several pairs of the Floreana mocking bird back to their island of origin.

Felipe, his passion and professionalism are examples for those who conform The Charles Darwin Foundation; our General Assembly, Board of Directors and employees express our unconditional support to his son Rashid Cruz Chesney, his mother, Emma Bedón to his brothers, sisters and relatives. We assure you that Felipe will always be remembered by us.

Video links with Felipe Cruz´s interviews:

The professional career of Felipe Cruz had local, national and international impact. He was a unique and brilliant ambassador of Galapagos.

New G. leucantha var. leucantha plants ready for the repatriation.

When people ask me, why do you love plants? The answer is easy: “plants are at the base of the trophic chain, meaning they are crucial for the ecosystems”, and having so many endangered species around the world for different causes is highly concerning. Therefore, I am trying to contribute to their conservation and to the Earth´s well-being in every way I can.

I was born and raised in the Galapagos Islands, surrounded by its unique biodiversity. Thus, I´m aware of the fragility of our ecosystems and I believe that we are all responsible for their conservation. We have many threatened species that need protection and management efforts. A remarkable example is Galvezia leucantha var. leucantha. For me, it was just another plant species name when I started to work at the Charles Darwin Foundation as part of the Galapagos Verde 2050 project. However, this plant is actually an endemic species that plays an important ecological role, exhibiting adaptive changes in order to be pollinated by endemic insects in Galapagos. Moreover, something else that caught my attention about this species was the critical status of its population, represented by only 4 individuals located on Northern Isabela.

Location of G. leucantha var. leucantha in their natural habitat.Location of G. leucantha var. leucantha in their natural habitat. Map by: Carolina Carrión Cortez

After experiencing several unsuccessful attempts of germination, I realized that because the seeds were so small, they needed more supervision and a very specific treatment.
I think that everybody at school in biology class germinated beans or any other seed with paper or cotton as substrate, so I had a flashback and remembered how I took care of my firsts baby plants, when I was just a kid. That’s why I started a pilot germination process with 30 G. leucantha var. leucantha seeds that were collected by the GV 2050 research team in August 2017. I used a petri dish and humid cotton layers as the substrate, the process was complemented with constant supervision and patience.
Out of the 30 seeds, only 9 germinated. When I saw the first embryo coming out of the seed, it was very exciting! It meant a great start for the conservation efforts of a critically endangered endemic plant population. I called all the members of the GV 2050 project to observe it and with the help of a magnifying glass it stole our attention.

New G. leucantha var. leucantha plants ready for the repatriation. Photo by: Micaela Solís
Out of the 9 seedlings that germinated, only 5 survived the first transplanting process. Manipulating such small plants and managing to achieve their successful survival was a huge challenge that allowed us to understand how fragile life can be. These little ones have been taken care of with tons of love and dedication. Seeing them grow has been tremendously inspiring.
Baby Plant of G. leucantha var. leucantha growing in an inert substrate. Photo by Micaela Solís

The development of our 5 surviving plants was very successful, and after 4 months of being in substrate, we carried out a second transplanting process to bigger pots with more substrate in order to fulfill all their biological requirements. Because their radicular system was growing very fast, when they were seven months old, they already had their first flowers. Therefore, it was the right moment for them to go back home. Then, we repatriated the 5 individuals to their natural habitat, close to their mother plants.

Angel Celi and Micaela Solís in the second transplanting process. Photo by Patricia Jaramillo Díaz
New G. leucantha var. leucantha plants ready for the repatriation. Photo by Micaela Solís

 Finally, thanks to the fundamental support of Lindblad Expeditions and the Galapagos National Park Directorate (DPNG), the research team transported the new babies to Isabela Island and planted them with water-saving technologies, used to enhance the capacity of water usage by the plants. These technologies are used by the GV 2050 project.

Dr. Patricia Jaramillo Díaz (leader of the GV2050 project) and Micaela Solís saying good bye to one of the Galvezia baby plant. Photo by Joshua Vela
Part of the GV2050 research team ready to go to Isabela Island. Photo by Joshua Vela


After this very successful experience, we are currently replicating the methodology applied during the pilot germination test in order to increase the number of individuals of the G. leucantha population on Northern Isabela and save a remarkable endemic species in danger of extinction.

It is therefore very important to understand that sometimes things that are simple to our eye can make big changes in the world.

María Guerrero (Professional volunteer of Malaga University) and Micaela Solís replicating the methodology of the pilot germination process. Photo by Patricia Jaramillo Díaz

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The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif (“AISBL”), has its registered office located at Drève du Pieuré 19, 1160 Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103.

© 2018 Charles Darwin Foundation. All rights reserved.