Situation and cooperation

Street scene in Bogota, Colombia

In addition to an ambitious package of benefits for victim compensation and land restitution, the government of then president Juan Manuel Santos had launched further reforms and programmes for poverty reduction and for inclusive growth. One such step has been to increase the minimum wage. The situation in the labour market has improved. In 2015, the official unemployment rate stood at 8.9 per cent. However, about half of the country's workforce is working in the informal sector.

The country's economy has seen positive development in the past few years. In 2014, the growth rate was 4.6 per cent. While it was a little lower in 2015, it may be expected that economic development in Colombia will be positive in the medium term. Factors that contribute to that development include the high level of education and the many well-trained skilled workers in the country. Colombia is an upper-middle-income country. Its gross national income is relatively high (7,970 US dollars per capita in 2014).

No peace, no development

The conflict that has been smouldering for over 50 years is an impediment to the country's development. It is further stoked by widespread poverty in rural areas and the continuing drug trade. Even though the government has made remarkable progress on the reduction of coca cultivation, the area under cultivation has been growing again recently, and Colombia is still the world's biggest producer of cocaine. Another problematic aspect is the above-average prevalence of impunity in Colombia: homicides and acts of physical and sexual violence against women and children often go unpunished.

Development potential

Picture of a hummingbird. Colombia is one of the countries with the greatest diversity of animal and plant species in the world. Through its development cooperation, Germany is supporting Colombia in protecting its natural resources and biodiversity.

Colombia is a megabiodiverse country. It is home to a vast variety of plant and animal species. Some 15 per cent of its national territory is nature conservation areas. The country also has vast mineral resources such as oil, coal, gold and rare earths.

Colombia is already affected severely by the impacts of climate change, for instance heavy rainfall and floods. Internationally, Colombia is actively involved in global processes. For example, it was very active in the drafting processes for the Sustainable Development Goals (2030 Agenda) and for the Paris climate agreement.

In 2011, the Colombian government established a ministry of the environment. In 2013, Colombia presented an ambitious development strategy for the Amazon region (Visión Amazonía). It is geared towards ending deforestation in the Amazon region by 2020.

The construction, civil service, real estate and financial services sectors in particular are considered to be drivers of economic development in Colombia.

Colombia has an active and thriving civil society and a lively, pluralistic media landscape. However, civil society representatives, and prominent human rights defenders in particular, still face threats and intimidation on an alarming scale, especially in rural areas.

Priority areas of German cooperation with Colombia

In addition to government-to-government cooperation, many non-governmental organisations, church organisations and political foundations are actively involved in promoting democracy, in peace education and the promotion of human rights, and in emergency aid and assistance for displaced people.

At the government negotiations between Germany and Colombia in December 2014, a total of 327 million euros was pledged for intergovernmental development cooperation in 2015 and 2016.

The focus of the cooperation programme is on the following areas:

  • Peacebuilding and conflict prevention
  • Environmental policy and the protection and sustainable use of natural resources
  • Sustainable economic development in rural areas

Peacebuilding and conflict prevention

Germany is supporting the Colombian government in implementing its peace legislation of 2012, for instance with regard to the implementation of the Victims Restitution Law. Germany's official development organisations are giving advice on conflict prevention to victims' associations and to government institutions, thus building trust between the government and civil society. They are also advising the attorney-general's office on transitional justice procedures and on ways of investigating and addressing war crimes in Colombia. In addition, the civilian activities of the peace mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) are being supported through German development cooperation. This support involves activities to empower displaced women and protect them from violence.

Environmental policy and the protection and sustainable use of natural resources

A fisherman at the Guarinó River in the Province of Caldas, Colombia. There had been plans to divert the water of the river to a dam in order to generate electricity, which would have meant major constraints on fishermen's livelihoods. Germany helped bring about a compromise between fishermen, energy companies, and environmental and regional authorities.

Germany's development cooperation with Colombia is being used to support efforts to protect biodiversity, reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) and develop and strengthen the national system for the management of protected areas.

Under the REDD Early Movers programme, Germany and Norway have made a commitment to financially reward demonstrated reductions in carbon emissions. Colombia, in its turn, has committed itself to strengthen the protection of forests and the development and capacity of local communities and institutions. This initiative seeks to support Colombia in achieving its ambitious goal of halting deforestation in the Amazon region by 2020.

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