24.7 million hectares of Colombian Amazon territory have been handed back to indigenous people, ensuring their continued stewardship of the biodiversity and the integrity of ecosystem. 60,000 indigenous people from 52 ethnic groups, have gained autonomy and legal recognition as decision-makers in governing the rainforest, in compliance with the Colombian Constitution, national laws and international agreements.
COAMA has been promoting indigenous governance in the Colombian Amazon since 1989. It has been a gradual process, firstly to strengthen the traditional structures for governance within the communities, centred on the maloca (community house). Elders and traditional authorities then linked up along the rivers to form Associations of Traditional Indigenous Authorities, known as AATIs, which are now recognised by the Colombian government as public entities with decision-making capacity for indigenous territories (resguardos). Inter-cultural collaboration, led by COAMA, has also resulted in highly effective ethno-health and ethno-education programs which combine traditional knowledge with elements of western knowledge and science.