Ethnic Information

Mar 24, 2021

During 2021, the relationship with ethnic groups in the areas of influence of Ecopetrol was based on intercultural dialogue, seeking to maintain relationships of trust. Progress was also made in reactivating the prior consultation processes that had been taking place in 2019 and that were suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Get to know our Guide on Ethnic Community Relations


Identification of ethnic communities in Ecopetrol´s areas of interest    

Before the development of any project that could materialize negative externalities, Ecopetrol must request the Directorate of the National Authority for Prior Consultation – DANCP for the certification of origin for prior consultation on the area of influence, this depending on the activities to be carried out by the company. The information that is delivered to the DANCP includes: 1) Description of the activities of the project 2) Definition of the area of influence or area in which the externalities could materialize 3) Analysis of the possible impacts and their respective management measures 4) Specific intervention areas.

In 2021, 7 requests for prior consultation were processed, none of which indicated the need for developing prior consultation in the structuring projects.

As part of the due diligence in human rights, in the cases in which Ecopetrol identifies ethnic communities that may be directly affected by the activities of a project, the presence of said community in the area is reported to the National Prior Consultation Authority and their respective pronouncement is requested. In 2021, for new projects, there was no evidence of the presence of unidentified communities in project areas.

Analyzing the social context to have proper relations with Indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples

During the relationship process with ethnic groups that live in areas of influence, Ecopetrol takes intercultural dialogue as a principle and articulating axis. For that reason, in addition to the territorial diagnoses that can provide relevant information on the characteristics of the ethnic groups, participatory baselines are built during the prior consultation processes. These are technical processes with intercultural and participative methodologies for information gathering about the community, it includes social, cultural, environmental, and cartographic aspects that allow the understanding of the community and therefore, establishing measures to manage the negative impacts of the project.

Intercultural conflict prevention and management

To avoid intercultural conflicts, Ecopetrol´s principal strategy has been the compliance of environmental legal regulations, the identification of ethnic communities with presence in the areas of intervention and developing the correspondent prior consultation processes when these are determined by the Interior Ministry. In addition, its key to have knowledge of the cultural peculiarities of each community to have a direct and efficient dialogue with them.

Currently, one mayor cause of conflict with ethnic communities is the lack of clear regulations on the development of the prior consultation processes, especially in operational areas that existed before the issuance of law 21 of 1991, a norm that embraces the Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization ILO. This situation has resulted in the establishment of legal guardianships by ethnic groups against Ecopetrol, its partners and subsidiaries, as well as for other government entities. Regarding these legal measures, Ecopetrol has been respectful of the judge’s decisions and has been diligent in their implementation.

Relevant conflicts between Ecopetrol and Ethnic communities







July 2016

“Vencedor Alto Unuma” Reservation of the Sikuani ethnic group.

Puerto Gaitan, Meta.


Rubiales Field.


The community states they have never been consulted about the operation of the Rubiales Field, which has affected sacred sites that are in the same area of the field.

The previous operator of the Field did not carry out previous consultation processes since the Interior Ministry never certified their presence and due to the lack of requests for consultation from the community.

During 2021, positive progress was made in complying the cultural and productive compensation agreements, maintaining dialogue spaces that allow differences to be overcome.  


Cabildo Sikuani Florida Kawianane

Project CP08

The community is undergoing a land restitution process with the national Land Restitution Unit.
During 2021, they requested compensation to Ecopetrol due to a seismic project carried out between 2009 and 2010.  

Ecopetrol has continued with the development of dialogue spaces with the community, indicating that during the seismic project the presence of the community in the area was not detected nor was reported by the Interior Ministry.  

In compliance with the due diligence, Ecopetrol has requested the community to develop a revision process accompanied by the relevant authorities.


Identified violations to the rights of indigenous peoples in 2021

There is no evidence of violations to the rights of indigenous peoples during the reporting period. Regarding the ongoing legal processes (Rubiales field and Exploration APE Berilo), agreements have been made between Ecopetrol and the affected communities. In the case of APE Berilo, the agreements and compensations will be developed during 2022, since that is the year in which the operation will start. On the other hand, regarding the Rubiales case, positive progress has been made in complying with the agreements between Ecopetrol and the community.

Rubiales Field. Implementation of agroforestry systems: Agreement derived from the consultation process carried out with the Unuma Meta reserve.

Ecopetrol´s position about hiring ethnic communities

Hiring members of ethnic groups as labor is part of the respect for the right to non-discrimination in employment based on ethnicity and is regulated by the Political Constitution of Colombia and by the Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization ILO, which establishes the following in its article 20:

“Governments shall, within the framework of national laws and regulations, and in co-operation with the peoples concerned, adopt special measures to ensure the effective protection with regard to recruitment and conditions of employment of workers belonging to these peoples, to the extent that they are not effectively protected by laws applicable to workers in general”

Even though the Government should be responsible for defining an employment policy for ethnic groups, Ecopetrol must avoid any type of discrimination against workers belonging to ethnic groups and should guarantee that the principle of bilingualism is applied, also they must consider the cultural differences of each community and their representative authorities.

Petition, complaint, and claim mechanisms for indigenous communities

For each project of Ecopetrol, the communication and information channels that the community can use to communicate their requests, complaints and claims are established and disclosed. These channels may include the collection of verbal complaints, phone calls, and letters. This applies equally for ethnic communities, however, when the communities require translation, a person speaking their native language is available to collect such complaints and give required information.

During 2021 there was no evidence that the communities who are carrying out prior consultation processes required a translator to make use of the participation mechanisms.

Prior consultations are done to comply with legal and environmental regulations and to reach fair agreements with the communities, dealing with the impacts of the projects and respecting the cultural heritage of ethnic communities. Colombia´s Constitutional Court, through Judgment Su-123 of 2018, established the need to achieve prior, free, and informed consent with communities before the development of any project that involve any of the following situations:

  1. Transfer or relocation of the indigenous or tribal people from their place of settlement.
  2. The storage or deposit of dangerous or toxic materials on their territories.
  3. Measures that imply a high social, cultural, and environmental impact that puts their subsistence at risk.

From the planning phase of the projects, its key to verify the possibilities of impacts to ethnic groups that have presence in the same area. In case that the presence and possible impacts over a community are verified and confirmed by the authorities, Ecopetrol must promote the development of a prior consultation process. This process has an established and defined procedure inside Ecopetrol, which is based in the current regulations and the analysis of possible impacts of the project.

In 2021 the following activities were done regarding prior consultation processes:

Request to the Prior Consultation National Authority (DANCP) about the need of developing prior consultation in 7 projects.

4 prior consultations were closed, in 2 of them, Ecopetrol reached agreements with the community and 2 were declined since the projects will not be developed.

9 prior consultation processes are in progress for the operation of two production fields.

Two technical committees and one training space were developed within the framework of the relationship strategy with the Prior Consultation National Authority (DANCP).


Participatory baseline construction and impact analysis  

If prior consultation is requested by the authorities for the development of a project, the corporate procedure of creating a baseline is launched. This requires gathering social, environmental, cultural, and cartographic information with the communities. This participatory process of building the baseline requires field trips that allow the understanding of general characteristics of the communities, places of cultural importance and expose the operational scope of the project in a technical way.

This baseline, created in collaboration with the community allows to:

  1. Know the real characteristics of the community to develop accurate mitigation plans for the identified possible risks.
  2. Disclose to the community and stakeholders the operational scope and technical information of the project, to ensure they can make informed and relevant inquiries about it.

For the development of the project Occidente Norte, characterization field trips with the communities Camentsá Biya and Pasto Siberia were developed:





2021 base line construction with the Camensá Biya community, for the project Occidente Norte in Orito, Putumayo.






2021 base line construction with the Pastos Siberia community, for the project Occidente Norte in Orito, Putumayo.



Compliance of agreements derived from prior consultations

After the prior consultation process of any project, there are some agreements between the company and the community, which are binding for Ecopetrol and their compliance must be in progress since the start of the project, these agreements are part of the measures taken to assure the protection of the community. The Prior Consultation National Authority (DANCP) is constantly checking with the communities for the compliance status of the agreements, once they have been completed the authority verifies and issues a closing statement for the consultation process. In case the project is declined for any reason, the consultation process is also closed, and is verified by the relevant authority.

Cover page of the Life Plan built by the Vencedor Piriri, Guamito and Matanegra Indigenous Communities. Built as part of the compensation of the APE Mago Norte project.




 Uitoto de Coropoya Reservation, Coreguaje Reservation from Jericó, Consaya y La Teófila / Solano (Caquetá) 

Samichay 2D Seismic

Protocolized consultation in 2013, currently in the follow-up stage.  


The exploratory project has not started.

Sikuani Reservation, Vencedor Pirirí, Guamito Matanegra / Puerto Gaitán (Meta)

Mago Norte exploratory drilling area

Protocolized consultation in 2013, currently in the follow-up stage.


The exploratory project has not started.

Sikuani Reservation, Domo, Planas and Iwiwi / Puerto Gaitan (Meta)

CP8-Sur exploratory drilling area

Protocolized consultation in 2014, progress closed in 2021.


Exploratory project executed and consultation agreements fulfilled.

Kichwa Calarcá Reservation / Puerto Leguizamo (Putumayo)

PUT-13 2D Seismic

Protocolized consultation in 2017, progress closed in 2021.


Exploratory project declined.

Embera Chami Council of Dachidrua / Puerto Parra (Santander)

Nafta exploratory drilling area

Protocolized consultation in 2014, currently in the follow-up stage.



Exploratory project executed and consultation agreements fulfilled.

Reservations: Cofán Ukumari Kanhke and Santa Rosa; Pasto Rumiyaco; Awá Ishu and Nasa Uh. Liberación y Futuro community council / Ipiales (Nariño)

PMA Sur modification – Churuyaco polygon

Prior consultation in progress.


Ecopetrol held constant communication with the communities, they still have restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.

Kichwa Calarca Reservation/ Puerto Leguizamo (Putumayo)

Tantalú exploratory drilling area

Protocolized consultation in 2018, consultation closed in 2021.

Exploratory project declined.

Sikuani Alto Unuma Reservation / Puerto Gaitán (Meta)

Polygon inside Rubiales Field: Consultation done due to the order emitted by the State Council.

Protocolized consultation in 2019, currently in the follow-up stage.

Consultation agreements are in progress.


Negra La Palma and Negra Cocosar Communities / Saravena (Arauca)

Berilo exploratory drilling area: Consultation done due to a guardianship order.

Protocolized consultation in 2019, currently in the follow-up stage.

The exploratory project has not started.

Negra cocosar Community / Saravena (Arauca)

Llanos 38 Seismic – Banadía 3D phase.

Protocolized consultation in 2020.

The exploratory project has not started.

Cametsá Biya and Pasto Orito Siberia councils / Orito (Putumayo)

Development of the Occidente Norte area.

Prior consultation in progress.

Baseline activities are in progress during 2021.

Source: Ecopetrol, Coordination of Environmental Feasibility


In the following map of Colombia, we can find the location of Ecopetrol´s operations, infrastructure, and exploratory blocks, here we can evidence the presence of ethnic communities and lands titled to community councils in the same area of operation of the company.  There is no data for the communities that have their lands without legal registration, therefore, every time that a project is going to be developed, verification for the need of a Prior Consultation is required to the Interior Ministry, who must define if they need a field trip to the area or they can decide based on their historic database.

Operations information for each department:

La Guajira: Chuchupa and Ballenas Fields in the Department of La Guajira, which adjoin Block RC-9, in which the Molusco-1 exploratory well was drilled and for which prior consultation was carried out with 119 Wayuu communities. Currently the process is closed. For the Chuchupa and Ballenas production fields, the partner Chevron has carried out the requested prior consultations.

Bolivar: The Cartagena Refinery - REFICAR and the Nestor Pineda Maritime Terminal are in the Mamonal Industrial District in Cartagena. Although there are no ethnic groups in the Industrial District, Community Councils and Zenú Cabildos (associations) have been established in the adjacent areas.

Norte de Santander: In the Norte de Santander Department, we operate production fields near the Motilón Barí communities.

Santander, Boyacá, and Arauca: The U’wa Town is in this department, close to the operations of Campo Gibraltar and its facilities. Various community councils of black communities have been organized in recent years. Embera councils have been organized in Santander, claiming to have settlements in Puerto Parra, Cimitarra, Puerto Berrio and Puerto Boyacá for more than forty years.

Meta: There are 9 indigenous reservations and community land in the municipality of Puerto Gaitán. Nearby Campos Rubiales and Campo Mago operated by Ecopetrol are the Vencedor Pirirí, El Tigre, Alto Unuma, Walliani, Domo Planas and Iwiwi Reservations. Prior consultation processes have been carried out with the Vencedor Pirirí, Domo Planas and Iwiwi reservations for the Mago Norte and CPO-8 Sur exploratory projects, respectively.

Putumayo: The Putumayo Department has been recipient of various ethnic groups that have arrived either through colonization processes or displaced by situations of violence. In recent years, these communities have requested a registration among the Ministry of the Interior which leads to their recognition. Thus, in Putumayo there are councils of the Embera, Nasa, Awá, Pasto, Kichwa, Pijao and Muruy peoples. Community councils have also been formed. The Camentsá and Inga communities are originally from Northern Putumayo and the Siona and Cofán communities from Southern Putumayo.

Nariño: The municipality of Ipiales in the Department of Nariño includes the Sucumbíos Field in which there is a presence of the Pasto, Awá, Nasa and Cofán indigenous peoples, as well as Community Councils with whom a consultation was initiated. The Trasandino Pipeline is also present here, on which the Awá, Pasto and Community Councils are located.



Dialogue with the U´wa people:

Communication between Ecopetrol and the U´wa community has improved since the creation of dialogue tables by the National Government. These spaces seek to strengthen the trust and empathy between both actors, based on intercultural dialogues. Ecopetrol has improved its understanding and knowledge of the U´wa community and the members of this ethnic group have solved their doubts about the company and its operations.

In 2021 progress was made in agreeing on the contents of some community benefit projects related to food security and health for the U´wa people, as well as the improvement of ancestral roads that allow better and safer mobility of the community inside their reservation. Finally, Ecopetrol progressed in the development of an agreement with the Department of Boyacá, which has the objective to build a Think Center for the community. After long years of broken relationships with the U´wa peoples, in 2021 Ecopetrol had stable and permanent communication with Asou´wa. It is expected to expand the radius of action to the other organizations representing the U’wa Group.

Intercultural workshop between Asou´wa and Ecopetrol.

Intercultural dialogue with the Unuma Meta indigenous reservation:

The Unuma Meta reservation is based in Puerto Gaitán, Meta, and is neighbor of the Rubiales Field. After Ecopetrol received the operation of this field, there was a court order that required a compensation analysis that could be needed from the company to the Unuma community. Thanks to the consultation process there has been constant communication with the reservation around two main topics: 1) The creation of a Guide on ethnic community relations, that define guidelines for future dialogue processes, conflict solving, and planning of future actions between ethnic groups and Ecopetrol, and 2) The formulation of projects that seek to build confidence, prioritizing some projects that will improve living conditions of the community.  

Cover page of the Guide for Relationship and Dialogue between Ecopetrol and the Alto Unuma Indigenous Reservation.


Agreement for the promotion of Cultural Heritage Conservation for the Cofán people:

An agreement was signed with the Permanent Committee of the Cofan People in 2020. This agreement seeks to strengthen conservation and cultural promotion through the adaptation of 5 “Mitotecas”, as well as the participatory diagnosis to update the Cofan People’s Life Plan.

Inauguration of the “Mitoteca” in La Hormiga, Putumayo.

Sponsorship agreement for artisans of ethnic groups within the Expoartesanias framework:

Expoartesanías is the most popular craft fair in Colombia, in which artisans from all over the country participate. In 2021, Ecopetrol supported the participation of 124 artisans belonging to different communities of ethnic groups from 17 departments. The participation of these artisans in the fair is an important contribution to their economy, while it strengthens the cultural practices and the ancestral knowledge that is applied when elaborating these masterpieces. This is a contribution made by Ecopetrol to promote the cultural heritage of the Colombian nation.

Artisan from the department of Chocó, exhibiting a recognition of the quality of her crafts.

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