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Climate resilience: building a more just Colombia

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Colombia has a lot to contribute to climate justice. It has been at the forefront on adaptation and linking climate action to national priorities, on peace building and creating a more equitable country. Concrete delivery of justice and climate action means tangible measures of solidarity with the more vulnerable communities within Colombia.

The peace process represents an exciting moment for Colombia. The possibility for building peace gives Colombians hope for a more prosperous future; however they are also aware of the economic, social and environmental challenges that this process could carry with it. Pressure on natural resources is likely to increase as communities expand their frontiers in rural areas to settle and develop productive activities such as agriculture and cattle ranching. If this process isn’t managed properly, it could result in a chaotic scenario that could see increased inequality, increased rates of deforestation and marginalisation of the highly vulnerable communities to escalating climate change impacts.

In its INDC Colombia indentified the intimate link between climate change impacts, peace building and creating a more equitable country. On this international contribution the Government of Colombia is clear that climate action can facilitate the consolidation of peace in a more equitable manner and with greater ownership. Tackling climate change is clearly aligned with proving support to those who are more vulnerable, particularly in rural communities, and playing a key role in providing better development opportunities.

Colombia has proactively starting an internal discussion on how to ensure that its policy and investment decisions are better aligned to tackle this challenge. This can help Colombia to effectively build resilience and to maximise the benefits of sustainable development from the peace process. On Tuesday this week Colombia officially launched “Colombia Sostenible”, a country-wide initiative that takes a systematic approach to addressing climate change, social inequality and post conflict challenges, and which is strongly aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals agreed at the UN General Assembly in September this year. E3G has been supporting the Colombian Government in the development of this plan to ensure transformative outcomes aligned with climate change through the Inter-American Development Bank.

The Colombia Sostenible initiative, planned for implementation over a 15 year horizon, aims to align national and international resources in Colombia towards a unique goal to deliver rural development, environmental sustainability and climate action in areas characterized by armed conflict. It also aims to build stronger partnerships with the private sector to scale up investments and enhance impact at the implementation level. Colombia Sostenible will support mitigation and adaptation to climate change within a wider context of provision of comprehensive care for vulnerable communities, sustainable alternative methods of production, resilient infrastructure, strategic planning and strengthening local institutions.

In its INDC Colombia also stated that adaptation and building resilience with respect to climate change are a priority and represents a national security issue. A concrete way to deliver justice and climate action in practice is through tangible measures of solidarity with the more vulnerable communities within Colombia. A pioneering National System of Adaptation Indicators that allows the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of adaptation measures is one of the priorities in Colombia’s INDC, and sectoral and regional adaptation plans are also underway.

In practice, delivering support to vulnerable communities implies a task beyond governmental actions; it will require active involvement of the private sector, academic and scientific community, and other key sectors such as construction, agriculture and planning. This is a great development challenge, but as it is placed within social objectives it stops being an issue strictly related to climate and becomes and matter of building a more resilient and just Colombia. Given the progress achieved so far and the recognition of the interactions between the peace process and sustainable development, we are convinced that Colombia is going to be one of the countries in the Latin American region that will progress on tackling climate justice and equity faster and more creatively.

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