News / 6 October 2010

ECOA and Probioma celebrate their 20th anniversary, congratulations!

Both ENDS, the Brazilian ECOA and the Bolivian Probioma started working together over 15 years ago. This year, the environmental organisations from Latin America celebrate their 20th anniversary. The collaboration with the Netherlands has continued for such a long time because of a great mutual trust, and shared views and methods. Tamara Mohr and Nathalie van Haren, both employed at Both Ends, tell about a special relationship

What kind of organisations are ECOA and Probioma?
Tamara Mohr: ECOA is an environmental organisation based in Campo Grande, a city in Brazil's south-western state Mato Grosso do Sul. North of this city lies the Pantanal, the largest wetland area in the world, which stretches out over Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. The Pantanal is very important to the water balance of the whole continent. The protection of this area is therefore the top priority of ECOA. ECOA cooperates with many local organisations in the area, but is also active on the policy level. Just like Both ENDS, ECOA has always focused on having a strong network.
Nathalie van Haren: What I think is so special about ECOA, is that they always manage to spot just the right people. They always find people who are passionate about the environment, and place them with the right organisations.
Tamara Mohr: Exactly, for them it's not so much about strengthening their own organisation as it is about strengthening the network; about how you can achieve things together.

And Probioma, what kind of organisation is that?
Tamara Mohr: Probioma is not a network organisation; their focus is more on specific themes. In Bolivia, Probioma also works to protect the Pantanal, but from Santa Cruz, where they are based, they also work with many small-scale soy farmers. One of Probioma's strengths has always been their influence on the policy of the Bolivian government. Their director Miguel Crespo has even been asked to become the Minister of Agriculture. It's also very special that Probioma has started a kind of laboratory to develop and cultivate biological pesticides for agricultural purposes, such as bacteria, wasps and fungi.
Nathalie van Haren: Yes, Probioma is well advanced in biological pesticides. It is great to see that an organisation from Bolivia is able to develop the same techniques as large companies here in the Netherlands. Their PR budgets are incomparable, but essentially, they're doing exactly the same things.
Tamara Mohr: Probioma sells her biological pesticides all over Bolivia, and through one of Both ENDS' projects, they're now also active in Chile and Iran.

What memory of 15 years of collaboration with ECOA and Probioma has struck you the most?
Tamara Mohr: Together with ECOA and many other organisations we have really put the Hidrovia on the map. Hidrovia is a huge project to make the Paraguay and Parana Rivers navigable for large seagoing vessels. This would open up an area from Buenos Aires to the Pantanal for development. Both ENDS and ECOA got the European and South-American policymakers involved with the Hidrovia's enormous environmental problems, which is why the project was eventually halted.
Nathalie van Haren: It is striking that the agendas of Both ENDS and ECOA match so well, not only in terms of topics, but also in the way we work. ECOA has therefore been closely involved in the vision development of Both ENDS.
Tamara Mohr: Probioma really is a very professional organisation. Within Drynet (a global Both ENDS network for the management of drylands), Probioma is an organisation that has been very result-oriented and extremely effective. One of Probioma's greatest assets is that they always take the bull by the horns. Although Probioma is very active in sustainable soy production, they chose not to participate in the sustainable soy meetings. They'd rather ask the soy farmers themselves what problems they encounter when they try to enter the global soy market. They then work together to find solutions. It is an organisation that really knows how to get things done.

To conclude: both organisations are 20 years old, what would you like to congratulate them on?
Tamara Mohr: I would like to congratulate both organisations on their perseverance in doing things they feel need to be done. Moreover, they are very able to adapt themselves. They have no fear whatsoever to try new things. If the world changes, they change right along with it, without losing their own vision.
Nathalie van Haren: I wholeheartedly agree with that. Both organisations are very organic, but they hold on to a number of basic principles, such as solidarity with the poor and the state of ecosystems. I would like to congratulate ECOA on their ability to keep finding new pearls within the environmental movement. To always have the right people for a job is very special.


Photo: Raphael Milani

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