Colombia: Protecting Biodiversity and Building a Resilient Future

Colombia, a vibrant country in Latin America, boasts a staggering natural wealth, being home to nearly 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity. However, with climate change taking its toll, Colombia’s fragile and unique ecosystems are under threat. The effects of climate change are expected to cause long-term damage, including land degradation, compromised water quality, and decreased agricultural production.

Agriculture, an essential sector in Colombia employing 15.8 percent of the population, is particularly vulnerable to climate-induced weather events such as La Niña. These events bring about cycles of intense drought followed by heavy rainfall, jeopardizing crops and livelihoods. Soil aridity, erosion, and desertification are already pressing issues and are anticipated to worsen with climate change, as highlighted by the World Bank Knowledge Portal.

Colombia recognizes the urgency of addressing climate change and has taken significant steps to mitigate its impact. In 2018, Colombia submitted its first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), outlining both mitigation and adaptation goals, as well as means of implementation. In December 2020, Colombia further reinforced its commitment by submitting a revised NDC with even more ambitious adaptation priorities.

In its revised NDC, Colombia aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 51 percent, equivalent to 169.44 million tonnes of CO2 eq, by 2030. Achieving this reduction will entail implementing strategies that focus on key areas within the agriculture and land use sector, including cocoa, rice, coffee, plantation forestry, and cattle production. Additionally, Colombia aims to improve the participation of three regions, Andina, Caribe, and Orinoquía, in national agriculture roundtables and provide agroclimatic information to one million producers by 2030.

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To tackle the challenges in implementing its climate plans, Colombia is leveraging the SCALA program. This initiative aims to accelerate the implementation of the NDCs and the Integral Management Plan for Climate Change, bridging the gap between national and local levels. The SCALA program builds upon the achievements of previous programs, such as the NAP-Ag program and the NDC Partnership Climate Action Enhancement Package.

Agricultural sub-sectors such as rice, corn, meat and milk, sugar cane, and cocoa will be the focus of adaptation actions under the SCALA program. Through community engagement and capacity-building, Colombia aims to develop sustainable agro-food systems resilient to climate change impacts. Activities include conducting cost-benefit analysis, evaluating damage and loss, and characterizing climate change impacts on the agricultural sector.

Looking ahead to 2021 and beyond, the FAO-UNDP SCALA program will concentrate on Cundinamarca, the department where the capital city, Bogota, is located. The program seeks to internalize national guidelines at the territorial level, facilitating the planning and implementation of climate change initiatives on a broader scale. By scaling up successful models and deepening private sector engagement, Colombia aims to strengthen tools, mechanisms, and incentives for climate finance in the agricultural sector.

Colombia’s commitment to protecting its biodiversity and building a resilient future is commendable. As the country moves forward, it strives to ensure that sustainable practices and climate resilience become integral parts of its agricultural landscape. By embracing these challenges head-on, Colombia paves the way for a greener, more sustainable future.

Colombia Infographic

(Source: Ames Farm Center)