Luis Gilberto Murillo Urrutia (born 1967) is a Colombian politician and Mining Engineer who was the Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development from 2016 to 2018. He has also served as Governor of the predominantly Afro-ColombianDepartment of Chocó in Colombia. Murillo was kidnapped in 2000 and after his release he went into and moved to the United States and only returned to Colombia in 2011.
Murillo’s ascent to become an influential Afro-Colombian political figure began as a teenager, when he earned an unusually high score for his state on the national collegiate qualifying exams. This allowed him to be awarded Colombia’s ICETEX Scholarship to study abroad. As a result he attended Moscow State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in mining engineering and a master’s degree in engineering science with a concentration in open-pit mining, in 1990. He also received a Certificate as Instructor of Russian Language. Because Murillo graduated with honors, he was offered to continue in a PhD program in mining engineering. Although initially he accepted the offer and started the program, six months later he returned to his native country and region to contribute to his community and to gain professional experience.
In 1993, at the age of 27, Murillo was promoted by Colombian President César Gaviria to the Office of Director General of the Corporation for Sustainable Development of the State of Chocó (CODECHOCO), under the National Department of Planning. As Director of CODECHOCO, Murillo reorganized and transformed that public institution. This transformation was needed to respond to the challenges of developing pioneering programs to promote the protection of biodiversity and the tropical rainforest. These reforms also incorporated the defense of land rights of rural Afro-Colombian and Indigenous communities that populate Choco’s River Valley Region. In this position, Murillo played an important role in the discussion of Colombia’s National Environmental Law (Law 99/93). This law mandated the creation of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. Murillo was awarded the honor as Chocó Executive of the Year in two consecutive years, 1993 and 1994.
In 1995, Bogotá’s Mayor Antanas Mockus Sivickas and the Director of the then Department of Environmental Protection of Bogotá (DAMA), Eduardo Uribe Botero, appointed Murillo as the Deputy Director of Planning of this agency. Urban environmental management had been a sector largely underdeveloped. He has taught environmental policy in Colombia’s top universities.