The less than 3 percent of Colombia’s population that lacks electricity lives mainly in areas of the country that have long been controlled by the FARC and other armed groups, such as Chocó in the Pacific, La Guajira on the Caribbean coast, and Putumayo in the Amazon. Not coincidentally, Colombians without access to electricity also have higher rates of poverty, fewer basic public services, and lower education levels than the rest of the country.
Under President Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian government has vastly expanded protected areas, creating new national parks and providing land titles to indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities in the Amazon, Chocó and other important forest regions. However, many challenges remain. National parks and indigenous and Afro-Colombian lands continue to be threatened by illegal occupation, coca cultivation and illegal gold mining.
Peace in Colombia promises to bring many environmental benefits to the country but also poses environmental risks associated with the rural development plans contemplated in the post-conflict agenda.
Colombia should integrate environmental considerations into its rural economic development plans to avoid an increase in deforestation associated with the post-conflict transition.
On October 20, the Inter-American Dialogue held a private conversation with Juan Carlos Pinzón, Colombia’s Ambassador to the United States. Private sector and non-governmental leaders, as well as independent analysts, engaged in a frank exchange with Ambassador Pinzón about the future of the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the FARC, after the ‘No’ vote won in the national plebiscite held on October 2nd.
The collapse in global oil prices has led to a steep decline in investment in Colombia’s hydrocarbons sector and reduced the value of its oil exports, depleting a key source of government revenue.