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Magdalena: River of Dreams

Updated: Nov 9

A conversation about Colombia with award-winning, best-selling author and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Wade Davis

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In a relaxed conversation Wade Davis--award-winning, best-selling author and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence for more than a decade--will bring to life the story of the great Río Magdalena, illuminating Colombia's complex past, present, and future.

Magdalena gives us a rare, kaleidoscopic picture of a nation on the verge of a new period of peace. Braiding together memoir, history, and journalism, Wade Davis tells the story of the country's most magnificent river, and in doing so, tells the epic story of Colombia.


Ambassador of Colombia in the United States Francisco Santos, Manager of the Inter-American Development Bank's Climate Change Juan Pablo Bonilla and the managing Director of the Lands for Life program at Rare, Paula Caballero will talk with the writer about his passion for Colombia, and the story of what he describes as the most magnificent river.

According to a recent article from the Guardian "Madgalena is a geography book about a river that is also a political history of Colombia, an admonition of ecological disaster, an impassioned defense of indigenous wisdom, and a memoir of the author’s various travels and friendships over the years. Like that other fine book about the Magdalena, Michael Jacobs’s The Robber of Memories (2012), it is very personal. Its three sections – “Alto”, “Medio” and “Bajo” Magdalena – promise a smooth linear ride downriver, but the text is full of mysterious eddies and crosscurrents. In his summary, Magdalena is “less a work of scholarship than a compendium of stories shared by Colombians encountered along the river and beyond”. These “living narratives” are the heart of a book whose final purpose is to “celebrate the true wonder of a country that has long been overlooked and misunderstood”

The event presented in partnership with Politics and Prose will highlight Colombia's culture, diversity and vibrancy


When: Friday November 13th at 6 pm EST

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Wade Davis is the author of twenty books, including One River, The Wayfinders, and Into the Silence, which won the 2012 Samuel Johnson prize, the top award for literary nonfiction in the English language. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society from 1999 to 2013, he is currently Professor of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia. In 2016, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2018 he became an Honorary Citizen of Colombia.


Francisco Santos Calderón is a Colombian politician and journalist. Santos was elected as Álvaro Uribe's second runner up and became Vice President in the Colombian elections of 2002. Santos was re-elected in the presidential elections of 2006 for a second term once again with President Uribe to continue as Vice President of Colombia. He is currently serving as Ambassador of Colombia to the United States.


Juan Pablo Bonilla, is the Manager of the Inter-American Development Bank's Climate Change and Sustainable Development Sector (CSD). Previously, he was Chief of Staff to the Executive Vice President of the Inter-American Development Bank. Dr. Bonilla has worked on environmental sustainability, climate change and energy for more than 20 years.


Paula Caballero is the Managing Director of the Lands for Life program at Rare. She has a long history in the field of development, including as Senior Director at the World Bank where she established the Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice. Previously, while serving as Director for Economic, Social and Environmental Affairs in the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she spearheaded the creation and negotiation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For her work as lead proponent of the SDGs she was received the German Sustainability Award in 2019 and the Zayed International Prize for the Environment in 2014 for her contribution to “environmental action leading to positive change”.


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