Priority area Environmental policy and protection of natural resources Sustainable alternatives to illegal land use
Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. More than half of its area is covered by forests. Some 15 per cent of the land has been made into protected areas. However, the country has lost several million hectares of forest over the last 30 years. This was caused, among other things, by increased farming, drug cultivation, illegal logging, and the extraction of mineral resources. Due to a lack of government control, many forest areas have been used as safe havens by guerrilla movements and criminal groups and a base from which they can engage in economic activity.
In order to combine environmental protection and peacebuilding, it is therefore vital to develop alternatives to illegal land use, give local people employment opportunities so they can generate an income, and simultaneously protect natural resources. With a view to preventing new conflicts, it will be crucial for environmental authorities and regional governments to ensure close consultation with local stakeholders in all planning and development processes and to take account of the rights of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities.
Among other things, Germany assists Colombia in drafting a REDD+ strategy. The fundamental idea is to offer financial rewards to local communities for the demonstrable reduction of deforestation and, thus, of greenhouse gas emissions.
In December 2019, at the UN climate conference (COP25) in Madrid, a declaration of intent was signed between Germany, Norway and the UK and Colombia which defines ambitious targets for lower deforestation rates and sustainable development. Colombia is to be given the requisite support to achieve these targets.
Among other things, Germany will assist the country in developing agroforestry models for the sustainable production of coffee, cocoa and rubber, and in providing training for farmers. Efforts will be undertaken to build the capacity of regional environmental institutions, and financing instruments and support programmes will be developed in line with local people's needs.