Colombia ranks second in the world for total biodiversity, after Brazil’s Amazon region, and is top of the list for the number of bird species and water resources. Despite Colombia’s forest wealth, the country has experienced intense deforestation caused by expanding agricultural and livestock grazing. In 2006, the World Bank estimated that environmental degradation in Colombia represents a loss amounting to 3.5% of GDP. The WAVES program in Colombia is building on a long history of environmental accounting by bringing together all relevant stakeholders to work toward expanding natural capital accounts and using them for policy.
WAVES in Colombia
WAVES in Colombia aims to build on existing work on environmental accounting in order to inform policy making in critical policy areas identified by the WAVES Technical Committee. The Committee initially focused on developing accounts for three pilot watersheds (Tota Lake and the Chinchiná and Alto Suárez rivers), but work has since expanded to include integrated national-level accounts for water, forests and land.
The Story So Far
Watershed accounts: Preliminary results for the Tota Lake pilot suggested that the main water users were water supply systems from outside the watershed, followed by irrigation districts and fisheries, with local industries and the spring onion sector showing the highest productivity per unit of water. Next steps in this pilot include sharing the results to ensure that natural capital accounting remains relevant and that accounts are regularly updated.
Accounts are also being constructed for the Chinchiná River, and will include information on water assets, forest stock and timber accounts, and identification of goods, services, and ecosystem units for the ecosystem accounts’ areas of influence
National forest accounts: Early results highlight reduced forest and natural areas caused by expanding agriculture, mining, and livestock rearing. They also reveal that 80% of available timber is contained in natural forests.
Water accounts: A temporal and spatial reference framework for the development of the account is underway, which will show preliminary results on water assets and their flow to the economy.
WAVES lead government agency
Country steering committee
Representatives from the Department of National Planning (DNP), the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Institute of Environmental Studies and Meteorology (IDEAM), the National Statistics Department (DANE), and the Office of the Comptroller General
World Bank/WAVES regional staff
Juan-Pablo Castañeda; Maria Elvira Talero, Communications officer; Rita Cestti; Daniela Gutierrez.