Protecting nature through local communities: One step closer to our commitment

We are all nature
At Karün we have a commitment: To Love, Protect and Enjoy Nature. Today we want to tell you about a powerful initiative towards that commitment...

At Karün we have a commitment: To Love, Protect, and Enjoy Nature.

Every day we work to nourish our commitment with real actions, and so those actions inspire other people too.

Today we want to tell you about a powerful initiative towards that commitment…

Every Karün customer is helping us fund a beautiful project with our friends and partners from Balloon Latam (@balloonlatam).

This deep work aims to involve the local community in its sustainable development and in the protection of their natural environment -The Cochamó and Puelo River Valley- through the deep connection and close work with entrepreneurs and local leaders from the territory.

About Balloon Latam

Balloon Latam is a social enterprise that seeks to strengthen and enhance the social capital of South American communities, to generate collective responses towards sustainable development.

What is the program all about?

Karün is funding a 4-year Programme and 1 Million Dollars commitment -developed by Balloon Latam- of collective action for sustainable development, that aims to enhance the social capital of the Commune of Cochamó - a 390.800 hectares territory - through the network between people, collectives and change-driven communities, to create development opportunities, get experience-based knowledge and generate a positive impact in these territories.

The whole process is divided in 4 stages:

  1. Socio-environmental Diagnostic: Evaluation of the territory’s socio-environmental aspects and sustainable development opportunities.
  2. Immersion: There is an immersion in the region to articulate the community with local teams and actors from both, the public and private sectors, that have influence in territorial management.
  3. Territorial and communities’ development: For at least 4 years we: develop programs to form change agents in the community, organize events for social involvement, promote local projects as an engine for sustainable development and promote the bond between the public, private and academic sector.
  4. Impact evaluation: Throughout the whole intervention process, Balloon Latam carries a rigorous evaluation of the impact, in order to identify the effect in 5 different areas: trust, social cohesion, identity, economical inclusion and community responsibility.

Why did we choose to finance this territorial process in Cochamó?

We consider Cochamó to be one of the most pristine places in our country, it's a 390.800 hectares territory, with an infinite ecological richness of Southern Chile: it’s the entry to Patagonia and adjoins with Hornopirén and Pumalín National Parks.

Nowadays Cochamó is being pushed by tourism and getting very popular in the world of outdoor sports. By not having proper territorial planning, nor an empowered community that can protect the natural environment, this tourism condition generates an implicit threat for the territory.

At Karün we believe that, if we manage to do effective work with the community of Cochamó, we will be able to create an inspiring case so that other communities throughout Chile and the world join forces towards the conservation of their natural surroundings.

In addition, in the Karün team, we have a special relationship with the community of Cochamó: we have been visiting the region for 15 years now, and in 2017 we decided to spend 10 days with some of the local entrepreneurs, in a close experience with Balloon Latam that helped us connect with the local ecosystem and its inhabitants. It is because of this deep relationship with the place we decided to commit towards helping in the protection of the Valley through the Balloon + Karün program.

More specifically, how will this help in the protection of the Cochamó and Puelo River Valleys?

Natural ecosystems are threatened all over the world due to human activity. Our economic model is sustained by the growth of our economy, which is directly linked to population growth, which in turn is linked to the extraction of the so-called “natural resources” (water, wood, minerals, among others).

Nowadays there are very few natural virgin spots left in the world. The few that remain are under serious threats because of the economic growth, except for those zones that are protected under the figure of National Parks or something similar.

At Karün, we believe that although National Parks are a great way of conservation, there are other ways to protect nature: through the people that inhabit these territories and the collective action that can come through them and all of the surrounding organizations (companies, foundations, municipalities, government and even the clients of the same companies).

The vast majority of the regions of untouched nature are found in rural areas and it’s exactly these places where the local communities don’t have access to the same opportunities that many times, people from the city do have: education, jobs, and financing. With the lack of opportunities at a local scale, many threats arise for the territory and its people; it’s easier for big extractive companies to install their megaprojects that harm the ecosystems, due to the vulnerability of the people and the lack of cohesion inside the community. People with greater economic power can buy the lands at low prices, developing them and then selling them for insane amounts, kicking the local community out and closing it for a few elites, gradually eliminating local traditions and the culture that sustains the diversity of the community and the traits that give the place its own, unique identity.

Not all of the risks are external, there are also internal threats; a community unconnected with their natural environment, with no intrinsic incentives to protect it, and a community with virtually no economic opportunities, will naturally tend to prioritize generating economic wealth to feed their families, before taking care of other subjects (no matter how important these may be for the planet).

On the other side, if the economy is sustained in activities that are compatible – and ideally depend on- the conservation of natural ecosystems (like tourism; production of natural foods like honey, Murta, Calafate, Morchella, among others; weaving workshops with natural wool; trades like goldsmith, carpentry, basketry and others), added to the existence of a deep connection between the people of the local community and nature, and strengthening the trust, cohesion and coordination between the people of the community, only then will the conservation of the territory and it’s natural ecosystems be possible and sustainable.

A natural environment with no one to defend it, is a place with potential external threats. A natural environment with people that have no connection with their land, is a place with both internal and external threats. A natural environment with an empowered community and an economy that depends on the conservation of its surroundings is a place with a greater chance of being conserved.

How do we finance the program?

Thanks to every Karün customer. The sale of our sunglasses allows us to finance this process, the commitment is of 1 million USD to contribute through a 4-year plan, being the first year contribution 280.000 USD. This programme seeks to empower hundreds of entrepreneurs and their families, directly benefitting thousands of people that inhabit one of the least populated territories, with one of the richest natural environments in Chile. Likewise, it aims to enhance the local economic activities that incentivize conservation through connection with social actors and change-driven agents from all over the world. As well as bringing people of the community closer together to promote collaboration and generate internal cohesion that will create opportunities to empower the local communities and bring them a step further in the protection of the Cochamó Valley.

We believe that if a sunglasses company, along with its clients can help something like this come true, then we can all pitch in from our own passions and hobbies. We are all responsible for protecting our planet and fighting to diminish the lack of opportunities. We are all nature.

The Territorial and Communities Development in Cochamó begun with the entrepreneurship and social innovation training program -Balloon International Cochamó- in which 14 change agents from different parts of the world worked face-to-face with entrepreneurs and social leaders from 24 different places. This first programme concluded with 118 entrepreneurs graduated, all in our beautiful Chilean Patagonia.

If you have questions or suggestions you can write directly to or contact us HERE