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Co-Galapagos poster in a local café
UN Sustainable Development Goals


Since 2021, GCT has been helping to drive the Co-Galapagos initiative, aiming to promote CO-llaboration, CO-operation and CO-ordination between communities, policy makers and researchers to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Agenda in Galapagos. Co-Galapagos is an initiative launched in 2021 by King’s College University of Cambridge (represented by Dr Sophia Cooke) and local NGO, Fundación un Cambio por la Vida (FUNCAVID).

Project Partners

Fundación Un Cambio por la Vida King's College, Cambridge

Co-Galapagos in numbers

UN Sustainable Development Goals


SDG targets prioritised for Galapagos

Co-Galapagos workshop


community-led projects completed in 2022

Co-Galapagos workshop for local young people


paid internships for local young people delivered in 2022

Tourist photographing sea lions on Rabida island, Galapagos
© Jerry Chinn

The problem

The local economy in Galapagos has become over-reliant on tourism, which accounts for more than 80% of income. Tourism took a huge hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, rippling uncertainty across the community that depends on it as a source of income. The increase in the human population on the Islands has also led to overcrowding in towns and places huge pressure on social services, particularly education, healthcare, water provision and waste management. Additionally, levels of gender violence are high, as well as inequalities between different communities.  

GCT and our Co-Galapagos partners recognise that economic diversification, catalysed by sustainable development, is essential for improving the resilience of Galapagos’ communities and wildlife to future shocks. For change to be effective, it must be accepted by the local community, so supporting community project ideas is key. However, historically, very little funding has been available for local people in Galapagos to take their ideas for conservation and sustainable development forward. Actions to improve socioeconomic issues often also directly support biodiversity protection, but these are typically treated as separate topics across research, policy and funding.

Sophia Cooke

Not only does Co-Galapagos work to increase the efficiency of sustainable development, but by channelling funding for this work directly through the community, it also supports inclusivity and local capacity-building.

Dr Sophia Cooke, co-founder of Co-Galapagos
Co-Galapagos workshop
© Co-Galapagos

How we’re tackling it

The Co-Galapagos initiative puts the local community at the heart of conservation and sustainable development action in Galapagos. We support pioneering community leaders to advance 40 prioritised UN SDG targets in harmony with biodiversity conservation. Together we are strengthening local capacity to drive projects addressing pressing social, economic and ecological issues – building skills, access to funding and a collaborative network to achieve optimum impact. Project results are synthesised to generate policy advice to amplify the work and voices of the community, particularly under-represented groups such as women and youth, representing a platform for change. Co-Galapagos also provides a local internship scheme, providing paid opportunities across communications, policy, research and sustainability and conservation projects, primarily for recent graduates on or returning to the Islands.

Kayaks and sea lion in Galapagos
© Lutz Bunger

Project goals

Our vision for Co-Galapagos is to achieve an equal, inclusive Galapagos society which develops in harmony with nature and is the primary custodian of its natural heritage. We aim to contribute to a culture of co-responsibility and shared commitment in the care and management of the natural and social heritage of Galapagos. Communities can lead the Islands towards a low carbon economic model, where endemic species are protected and conserved, while issues of social inequality and injustice are combatted, and models of governance and participatory dialogue are sustained. In achieving this, Galapagos can provide the world, and especially other high-tourism island nations, with an example of how to provide economic resilience whilst tackling social justice and environmental issues.

This project is kindly supported by

Darwin Initiative
Evolution Education Trust
Galapagos sea lion sleeping on bench
© Steven Genesin

Project updates

Co-Galapagos / Galapagos Hub workshop
27th Apr 2023
Education and outreach Sustainable development

Co-Galapagos: Community-led sustainable development

During a recent visit to Galapagos, the GCT team participated in two workshops to develop the next stage of the Co-Galapagos project, which is driving community-led sustainable development initiatives on the Islands.
Read more
19th Dec 2022
Education and outreach Sustainable development

Co-Galapagos: Funding a Sustainable Future

Find out how you can help Co-Galapagos give power to local communities to build a sustainable future for the Galapagos Islands.
Read more
11th Aug 2022
COVID-19 Education and outreach Sustainable development

Co-Galapagos: helping Galapagos back to its feet after COVID-19

Support Co-Galapagos, an initiative giving power to local communities to build a sustainable future for Galapagos.
Read more
28th Feb 2022
Education and outreach Sustainable development

Co-Galapagos: catalysing community action for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development

Project Update: As part of GCT's Driving Sustainable Solutions programme, Co-Galapagos is working to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal Agenda in Galapagos.
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Support the local community in Galapagos

Learn more by visiting the Co-Galapagos website and find out which community projects currently need funding.

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