Colombia is the third most populous country in Latin America and preserves a natural wealth, close to 10 percent of the planet’s biodiversity. Climate change impacts are expected to pose significant and long-term effects on fragile and unique ecosystems and accelerate the pace of land degradation, impact water quality and agricultural production. As of 2019, 15.8 percent of the population is employed by the agriculture sectors, being especially threatened by climate induced weather events, such as La Niña, whose characteristics are strong periods of drought followed by intense rain. Agriculture in Colombia is indeed vulnerable to soil aridity, erosion, and desertification, all of which already pose serious threats and are expected to increase with climate change, according to the World Bank Knowledge Portal. According to its updated nationally determined contribution (NDC) in 2020, Colombia represents only 0.4 percent of global emissions with 71.3 percent of domestic greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture and land use.
Colombia’s climate change plans and priorities
Colombia submitted its first NDC in 2018, which outlined both mitigation and adaptation goals, as well as means of implementation. In December 2020, Colombia submitted a revised NDC with more ambitious adaptation priorities to increase capacities on private sector and producers in 10 sub-sectors (rice, maize, potato, beef cattle, dairy, sugar cane, cocoa, banana, coffee and sugar cane). Energy and Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Use (AFOLU) are considered the most important sector for mitigation. The revised NDCs state that Colombia is committed to emit a maximum of 169.44 million tonnes of CO2 eq by 2030 (equivalent to a 51% reduction in emissions compared to projected emissions in the 2030 scenario of reference). In the agriculture and land use sector, this will be achieved with strategies reducing greenhouse gas emissions in key areas, namely the production of cocoa, rice, coffee, plantation forestry and cattle. Other commitments focus on improving the participation of three regions (Andina, Caribe and Orinoquía) in national agriculture roundtables and facilitating access to agroclimatic information for 1 million producers by 2030.
Colombia was part of the IKI-funded NAP-Ag programme from 2015 to 2020, which facilitated the design of the Integral Management Plan of Climate Change for the Agricultural Sectors (PIGCCS), and its Action Plan (2019), which represents the national landmark for sectoral climate change planning. It addresses adaptation and mitigation articulately and converges with the broader national and territorial commitments on the stabilization and consolidation of affected areas by the armed conflict and the progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Beforehand, the country adopted its NAP in 2012, "Plan Nacional de Adaptación al Cambio Climático (PNACC)”, and a roadmap for its elaboration in 2013, “Hoja de ruta para la elaboración de los planes de adaptación dentro del PNACC”. In 2020, under the adaptation planning funded by Green Climate Fund, the country elaborated a series of Strategies to strengthen the business sector in climate risk management to maintain competitiveness.
Overcoming barriers in the implementation of climate plans
Colombia has encountered a few notable barriers while implementing its climate plans, such as a lack of local capabilities, limited access to climate information and low involvement of the private sector. To overcome these challenges and to bridge the divide between national and local levels, the SCALA programme offers a range of supports articulated around the primary goal to accelerate the implementation of the NAP, NDCs and the Integral Management Plan for Climate Change (Plan Integral de Gestión del Cambio Climático PIGCCs). The SCALA programme will also build on the achievements made under the NAP-Ag programme and the NDC Partnership Climate Action Enhancement Package (CAEP).
In line with the NDC priorities, the SCALA programme and Colombia will prepare for the implementation of adaptation actions in five agricultural sub-sectors: rice, corn, meat and milk, sugar cane and cocoa. This includes field and practical work with communities, unions, institutions, and territorial entities in the three regions of the country with the most significant agricultural potential. Specific activities include capacity-building for institutional actors of the Andina Centre, participatory characterization of climate change impacts on sustainable agro-food systems, cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and Evaluation of Damage and Loss tools.
Moving ahead – 2021 and beyond
The FAO-UNDP SCALA programme will also focus on the department of Cundinamarca, which is hosted in the capital city of Bogota. The programme seeks to develop a model that allows internalizing national guidelines at the territorial level. In turn, this will enable the methodologies and processes used under the NAP_Ag programme to be scaled up in other departments of the country, moving beyond national planning and towards strengthening and planning at the territorial level. The community climate action labs are designed to upscale local adaptation models that prioritize a biodiverse productive landscape. Other programme activities in Colombia will include conducting an analysis of climate information available in the government of Cundinamarca and strengthening agroclimatic roundtables in the department.
Furthermore, SCALA will focus on enhancing private sector engagement with the design of a strategy to strengthen tools, mechanisms and incentives for climate finance in the agricultural sector. This will be supported by the design of ‘guidelines for certification’ in climate-adapted agriculture for rural microentrepreneurs, small producers and medium-sized emerging producers, as an incentive to access institutional programs, social protection mechanisms, services and financial relief.
- Colombia's NDC
- Colombia's NAP
- Climate Change Law
- Climate Change National Policy
- UNDP Colombia
- Adaptation Portal: Colombia
- Colombia case study: Safeguarding livelihoods and promoting resilience through NAPs (in Spanish)
- Colombia: advancing monitoring and evaluation of adaptation in the agriculture sector
- Colombia paves the way from adaptation planning to local implementation in five agricultural sub-sectors
- Sowing resilience: How Colombia's Indigenous Peoples adapt to climate change