Latin America

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 was built on a long history of environmental accounting that brought together all relevant stakeholders to work toward expanding natural capital accounts and using them for policy.

WAVES in Colombia

WAVES in Colombia aimed 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). Work expanded to include integrated national-level accounts for water, forests and land.

The NCA unit updated its accounts for forests and the Orinoquía ecosystem and presented multiple case studies during the WAVES policy forum in The Hague. NCA results were integrated into the calculations for Colombia’s peace dividend, used to make adjustments to water prices, and for monitoring indicators under the country’s Green Growth National Policy. Results from forest, water, and land accounts were linked directly to national statistics to improve understanding of the multiple factors impacting Colombia’s natural resource base. 

WAVES engagement with Colombia ended in June 2016.

The Story Now

Colombia continues its work on updating accounts. Following the experience with the WAVES Steering Committee that enabled multiagency collaboration, Colombia set up mechanisms to coordinate with relevant ministries and departments to produce and institutionalize water, forest, land, energy, mineral, and ecosystem accounts. A decree was issued that mandates the unit in the Statistics Departments to coordinate with other departments that hold primary data on use and stock of natural resources.

Colombia is using accounts to report on the performance of its national development plans, as well as to monitor progress against SDGs. Colombia is also using NCA to measure its Green Growth

WAVES lead government agency