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A speech by HRH The Prince of Wales at the Natural History Museum in the presence of the President of Colombia

Published on 2nd November 2016

Mr. President, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen, I need hardly say how pleased I am to be able to join you today, alongside President Santos, for this important meeting on the Colombia-U.K. bilateral relationship on the environment.
 
My wife and I retain the fondest memories of our visit to Colombia in 2014 and I will always be grateful to the President for the opportunity to visit the utterly remarkable Chiribiquete National Park, in the heart of the Colombian Amazon, where we stood on the top of a soaring column of rock and surveyed the rainforest stretching far below. 
 
We had the great good fortune to be accompanied on our visit by the distinguished anthropologist, Martin von Hildebrand, and learnt much from him about Colombia's historic commitment to its indigenous reserves and protected areas.  I must say, I have been greatly heartened by Martin's recent progress in arguing for a cultural and ecological corridor spanning the Andes and the Amazon and encompassing some seven or so countries.  This seems a particularly worthy endeavour and I wish him every possible success before we lose yet more of this planet's priceless heritage...
 
I have not, alas, yet travelled to Colombia's Pacific region, but note that His Excellency Mr. Luis ilberto Murillo comes from this vitally important, culturally and biologically diverse area, which includes of course the Pacific coastline and the ocean beyond.  I have heard that the Minister hopes that the Colombian Pacific region, as a whole, may develop a 'Pacific Vision' of its own, to match Colombia's impressive Amazon Vision 2020, of which the U.K. Government has been such a supporter.  And, in addition to the President's support for the terrestrial ecosystem, I was so full of admiration when I heard recently of his intention to expand the Malpelo Flora and Fauna Marine Sanctuary.  Mr President, you set the world a great example by your far-sightedness in these matters...
 
If I may say so, I was also delighted to learn of the Colciencias – Newton Fund collaboration and of the various other initiatives and programmes in train involving not only Kew Gardens and the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh – both of which I am proud to be Patron – but also Bristol Zoo and, of course, the Natural History Museum.  How splendid that there is such a prospect for further collaboration between our two nations and their respective scientific institutions to the benefit of both countries; as well as between some of our companies which are committed to responsible sourcing activity including, potentially, from Colombia in the future.
 
Above all, though, I would like to take this opportunity to renew my heartfelt support for President Santos' efforts to lead Colombia to peace; and to a durable peace which, as I said in a speech in Bogotá, can best be based in the long run on a sound and harmonious relationship with the natural environment, upon which we all depend so crucially for our survival…