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Ancestral traditions and the future meet in Chile to create shared value

5 min.

Ancestral traditions and the future meet in Chile to create shared value

The Pilmaiquén hydroelectric plant in Chile is the centerpiece of a creating shared value project between Enel Green Power and the local community Mapu Pilmaiquén. The Isla - Salto La Olla Natural Park was its natural outcome, the epitome of a biodiversity conservation project striving to safeguard a millenary culture while developing innovative forms of sustainable tourism.

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A 100-foot waterfall among the treetops of a primeval forest where the Mapuche indigenous people have dwelled since the dawn of time.

This is the setting for EGP’s Pilmaiquén hydroelectric power plant in Chile, harnessing the power of its namesake river since the 40s to deliver carbon-neutral energy, and today, the centerpiece of a CSV project (Creating shared value) that lead to the establishment of the La Isla - Salto La Olla Natural Park.

Located roughly 42 kilometres from the town of Osorno in the Los Lagos region, the Pilmaiquén power plant generates 40.8 MW, equivalent to 240 GWh annually, thanks to an intake canal of a 150 m3/sec flow rate. Even though the strengths of this infrastructure aren’t found in its sheer numbers but rather, in its well-established connection with the local community and heritage.  

The power plant is just a stone’s throw from the historic homeland of the Mapuche people and this literally sets the ground for a cultural heritage preservation project as the lynchpin for a sustainable future.
 

La Isla - Salto La Olla Natural Park

Enel Green Power engaged in a productive dialogue with the Mapu Pilmaiquén community well over seven years ago, planting the seeds for mutual trust and today, blossoming in the full-blown awareness that this pristine territory must be preserved for the wellbeing of the natives as the custodians of ancestral traditions.

In 2015 and 2016, EGP and the Mapu Pilmaiquén people first joined forces to favor the social and economic development of the community, by setting up educational initiatives dedicated to kids and youngsters, as well as refurbishment projects for the community’s homes.

In 2017 the collaboration was taken a step further as Enel Green Power granted the Mapu Pilmaiquén community with the managing rights of the surrounding forest. On February 20, the woods that envelop the hydroelectric plant officially became a 6-hectare conservation area: La Isla - Salto La Olla Natural Park.  

 

“We’re convinced this is a landmark agreement for the country’s conservation policies because it demonstrates just how much Enel Green Power and the local community can deliver when the safeguard of the indigenous environment and heritage is at stake.”

– Flávia Lima, Environmental Specialist Enel

 

For the Mapu Pilmaiquén community, La Isla - Salto La Olla Natural Park is actually a conservation area, but more importantly, it’s the stage where they can showcase their cultural heritage to a growing number of environmentally-conscious tourists looking to experience an authentic relationship between man and nature.

Some members of the community took part in training courses to become the tour guides that offer an unparalleled view to over 100 visitors who daily flock to La Isla - Salto La Olla Natural Park, now a sustainable tourism hotspot.

 

“By joining forces we’ve opened the Park to the public. I’m grateful to EGP for returning the land to the community who will safeguard it by abiding to its core values and beliefs.”

– Bernardita Amolef, Spokesperson of the Mapu Pilmaiquén community

A role model

Enel Green Power strives to promote the social and cultural development of the communities dwelling near its infrastructures, creating shared value by protecting the environment as the way to ensure future generations will thrive in a better world.

 

“Dialogue and the willingness to join forces are the core values EGP is trying to foster at a global level. We reckon La Isla Park is a true role model, or the demonstration that when two parties share a common vision, the development of initiatives to the benefit of communities and the environment can be swiftly achieved.”

– María Cristina Papetti, senior executive in Sustainability Projects and CSV of Enel

 

The push for dialogue and mutual understanding generated by La Isla - Salto La Olla Natural Park didn’t fail to get noticed outside of Chile. During the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights that took place in Geneva, Switzerland on November 2018, the Natural Park received an honorable mention for the combined effort from EGP and the local community and for the long-term vision they managed to turn into a reality.

This is yet another testimony of the way sustainable development can truly be effective, thanks to a set of shared and focused initiatives that strive to look for the present and future wellbeing of local communities.  

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