South Pole Group's team of sustainable land use and public advisory experts have finalised an in-depth assessment and set of recommendations to the proposed design of the multi-donor fund "Colombia Sostenible". The fund, administered by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), will have as its main donor the Government of Norway through the Norway International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI).
Following years of armed conflict, the Government of Colombia (GoC) is seeking to combine conflict resolution with efforts to open job opportunities and a focus on green growth and sustainable rural development. The peace agreement has brought about new challenges and opportunities - not least in the area of deforestation: according to the UNDP, between 1990 to 2013 around 58% of the deforestation took place in municipalities with the highest conflict levels. Without the presence of the guerrilla, locals are furthermore able to develop agricultural practices and harvest resources from forests previously used by combatants. The positive outlook is that there will also be scope for greater control over the restoration, recovery and conservation of ecological areas, such as natural parks and paramos. The peace initiative has garnered support from international donors, such as the Government of Norway, which will aid the support of rural communities most affected by the conflict, and help create a more sustainable, efficient and diverse economy in Colombia.
It is against this backdrop that the GoC launched the 'Sustainable Colombia' initiative ('Colombia Sostenible') during the COP21 in Paris: a country-wide initiative based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, 'Sustainable Colombia' takes a systemic approach to addressing rural development, climate change, environmental sustainability, and social inequality in areas characterised by armed conflict.
In order to provide a transparent financing platform for the initiative, the GoC is planning to create a designated multi-donor trust fund, which will be administered by the IDB, and will include donors such as Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. Prior to formalising its membership and contribution to the fund, the Norwegian Embassy in Colombia assigned SPG to reassess the technical, financial and institutional set up of the fund, considering the requirements and regulations of the IDB and the objectives of donors that comprise the fund.
"The need for sustainable development interventions in Colombia is crucial, particularly in post-conflict zones. We are pleased to have been able to apply our decade's worth of experience in providing recommendations on aspects to improve and consider in the design of the "Colombia Sostenible" fund as part of the support provided to the Norwegian Embassy in Colombia," says Diana Rodriguez, South Pole Group's Project Manager and Expert in forest and climate change in Colombia. "Based on our expert assessment, the management procedures of the IDB in relation to the multi-donor trust fund, the balanced governance structure, as well as the link between contributions to policy, climate change mitigation, and natural resource management in line with peace objectives all speak in favour of further pursuing the contribution."
"The appraisal carried out by South Pole Group provided important recommendations to improve the operation of the Fund, particularly regarding its governance structure and the mechanisms for financing initiatives that could benefit and improve the living conditions of the local population. With the implementation of this Fund, Norway expects to contribute to a more peaceful, greener and sustainable Colombia, benefiting the whole Colombian society," says Elise Christensen, Forest and climate adviser, Norwegian Embassy in Colombia.
To find out more about South Pole Group's work in public advisory and sustainable land-use, please visit the Group's offering here.