Colombia’s post-conflict ‘green’ audit

As Colombia stumbles to a post-war reconciliation, the focus turns to rebuilding the shattered environment as well as using environmental rebuilding as an ecological development, post-conflict rebuilding tool.

Home to almost 10 percent of the planet’s biodiversity, Colombia is listed as a “megadiverse” country by the Convention on Biological Diversity, being home to 314 different types of ecosystems.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the conflict not only has led to huge environmental destruction, especially deforestation and soil degradation caused by illicit crops, but additionally land-mines planted during the conflict have also made Colombia home to the second largest number of land-mine victims in world after Afghanistan.

“The environment is essential for achieving post-conflict reconciliation and stabilization at the global level,” wrote Arnaud Peral, UNDP’s Colombia Resident Representative. “In Colombia, a culturally and biologically diverse country, such resources are of paramount importance.”

One of the ironies of the conflict is the ‘refuge effect’, with conflict in Colombia slowing down environmental exploitation: while somewhere between 5.8 – 6.7 million people have been displaced 6.5 – 10 million hectares of land either abandoned or taken illegally.

According to the Colombian-based Humboldt Institute, the high levels of deforestation are also attributable to structural social and political weaknesses not directly attributable to the war; furthermore, the extractive and agricultural and livestock industry models are often illegally intertwined with political power.

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