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Last week Gabriel German Londoño passed away unexpectedly in Bogotá, Colombia.

He was a close friend for years. He hosted Prof. George Chan for 8 months in Pereira where he started an integrated farming system in 1997. 

He donated the bamboo for the ZERI Pavilion designed by Simon Velez at the World Expo in Germany in the year 2000 which was the start

of a successful bamboo export strategy for the Colombian Coffee Region.

Foto del Periódico el Tiempo

Mario Calderon introduced me to Colombia. The projects we were able to implement from the farming of mushrooms on coffee grounds, to the construction of the world's largest bamboo structure of modern times for the World Expo in Hanover, with the test building still standing tall as a symbol of the coffee region in Manizales, would have been impossible without Mario. He taught me how to navigate ethically in a world of corruption, and accept retreat instead of defeat. He inspired me to write the fable "Can I steal less?". 

Based on his exemplary life style l invited him to become the godfather of my first son Carl-Olaf which he not only accepted, he came to Belgium to celebrate the arrival of my son. Mario was trained a banker who funded the largest solar water heating project in history in cooperation with Las Gaviotas for social housing in Colombia. His efforts have never been publicized nor celebrated, and Mario did not care about the news, he cared about what could be done on the ground. His vision is how to ensure local economic development. 

Mario was a major force in the proposal to expand Las Gaviotas, the regeneration of the rainforest project from the present 8,000 HA to 80,000, and eventually to one million. Mario and I had to accept retreat after the then Minister of Agriculture favored a major investment in GMO cultivation. Maybe we lost that battle for sustainability, however the project introduced me to Katherina Bach, my partner for life. 

Thanks to Mario I have met some of the most inspiring persons in my life: first and foremost Paolo Lugari, the founder of Las Gaviotas, and Noemi Sanín, a political leader who set new agendas for Colombia and challenges the status quo. 

Mario left us on Sunday January 5, 2014. However he will inspire me forever.