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Proposals for Sustainable Rural Development

Colombia should integrate environmental considerations into its rural economic development plans to avoid an increase in deforestation associated with the post-conflict transition, according to a new Inter-American Dialogue report. Deforestation is already a major challenge for Colombia, where over 124,000 hectares of forest were destroyed in 2015 alone. Post-conflict land restitution initiatives and growing economic interests in formerly conflict-affected areas will place even greater demands on the country’s land resources, including national parks and environmental reserves in the coming years.

In addition to managing the complex transition from conflict to peace, the Colombian government must work to reconcile competing demands for land while ensuring that the country’s many environmental assets are protected. These assets are critical not only for Colombia, but also at an international level. With the world’s eighth most extensive forest coverage, Colombia is a critical partner in mitigating global climate change.

The report, written by Lorenzo Morales, a journalist and professor at the Universidad de Los Andes, provides a series of recommendations to the Colombian government to achieve sustainable development in the post-conflict period, derived from the contributions of participants at an August 2016 Inter-American Dialogue meeting in Bogotá, as well as interviews with meeting participants and other experts.

The recommendations include improving existing land survey data, clearly delineating environmental areas and limiting agricultural extension. Of critical importance is the responsible relocation of displaced persons to avoid unproductive and highly fragile land, or lands without access to infrastructure or basic services. Efforts to strengthen and empower local authorities, indigenous governments and local and informal environmental institutions would also have positive effects.

Sustainable development will require reallocating state resources in support of environmental policy, for example through tax incentives, payment arrangements for environmental services and local government capacity building. Efforts to link climate change planning to post-conflict action plans could also optimize current investments and attract additional support from international donors. The development of new “green” markets and sustainable technologies in extractive industries would also have environmental benefits.

The Inter-American Dialogue is grateful to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation for its support of this work.

See news coverage of the report in El TiempoSemana Sostenibleand El Espectador.

Report launch

On February 23rd, join us for a discussion on sustainability and peacebuilding in Colombia and the presentation of the Inter-American Dialogue’s new report. 

SPEAKERS

  • Juan Pablo Bonilla, Manager, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Sector, Inter-American Development Bank – @JPabloBonilla
  • Paulina Arroyo, Program Officer, Andes-Amazon Initiative, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
  • Lisa Viscidi, Director, Energy, Climate Change & Extractive Industries Program, Inter-American Dialogue – @lviscidi

RSVP to attend the report launch here.