Extractive Industries and Environmental Regulation in Post-Conflict Colombia

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Key Questions for the New Government (Executive Summary)

In the wake of the peace accords signed with the FARC in 2016, Colombia must pursue new strategies to ensure sustainable development of natural resources. Oil and mining are important sectors of the economy, making a significant fiscal contribution to cover the costs of implementing the peace deal. Improved security could even encourage companies to expand extractives activity in former conflict zones.

Yet there is a lack of consensus about how to manage environmental concerns related to these sectors. Inconsistent policies and inefficient regulation have slowed oil and mining production, while many communities are strongly opposed to extractive industries on environmental grounds. The peace negotiations have further emboldened some communities to oppose oil and mining projects.

In this context, the next president will be tasked with outlining a fresh approach to environmental regulation of extractive industries in the post-conflict period.

A new report by the Energy, Climate Change, and Extractive Industries Program at the Inter-American Dialogue, Extractive Industries and Environmental Regulation in Post-Conflict Colombia: Key Questions for the New Government analyzes the challenges to environmentally and socially sustainable development of the oil and mining sectors in Colombia and raises important questions for policymakers, such as where extractive industries should be permitted to operate, who should be responsible for oversight and how to make operations more environmentally sustainable:

  • Which government institution should be responsible for land use planning with an eye to environmental protection? The report discusses why the new government should clearly define which areas will be open to hydrocarbons and mining development and which areas will be protected as national parks or indigenous reserves and examines how the new government could improve the process for citizen consultation on the environmental impact of extractives projects while providing clarity for investment.
  • How can information on the oil and mining sectors be improved to ensure that strategic projects comply with the requirements for environmental and social licenses? The report discusses why the new government should review local governance structures to determine whether local authorities are equipped to handle environmental management and disseminate accurate information to local communities about the environmental impacts of extractive industries.
  • Should companies operating in former conflict zones be required to adhere to international standards for social and environmental operations? The report discusses the importance of introducing policies to promote the use of technologies that reduce environmental impact and alternative forms of integration and access to land.

The report is authored by Lorenzo Morales, a journalist and professor at the Center for Journalism Studies at the Universidad de los Andes.

The report was made possible by support from the Ford Foundation.

Lisa Viscidi, Director of the Energy, Climate Change, and Extractive Industries Program, comments on the report: 


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