(Environment Peace Initiative for Colombia – EPIC)
The U.S. Department of the Interior, its Technical Assistance Program (DOI-ITAP), USAID Colombia, and the Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development are working together to build capacity in the Colombian National Government in two main areas:
- Improve natural resource management practices in and around the National Parks and in the departments of Amazonas, Guaviare and southern Meta.
- Support the long-term sustainability of natural resources, which is one of the objectives of the Environment Peace Initiative for Colombia (EPIC).
This initiative will engage in activities that respond to USAID’s Biodiversity Policy, which seeks to integrate biodiversity conservation management into development projects.
- Technical assistance for the administration and management of protected areas, particularly in relation to impacts or threats posed by extractive industries, infrastructure, and other development activities.
- University curricula. Training programs are being developed in partnership with universities such as the Externado and Javeriana, based on previous DOI-ICAA experiences. The purpose of this training is to improve interaction between development and the environment, focusing on better environmental and social practices and biodiversity conservation.
- Monitoring and regulation. Technical assistance will be provided to National Parks that will aid in the management and minimizing of threats to protected areas and the resolution of conflicts by means of inter-institutional work and multi-sector partnerships. The main strategy is to increase National Parks’ active participation in the monitoring and regulations regarding development activity in and near protected areas. Technical assistance also implies the sharing and development of relevant tools, protocols, and strategies.
Members of ANLA, environmental sector officials and ministries, research institutes, ANDI, and local indigenous and campesino communities and organizations will all be involved in training exercises.
Key areas to develop for natural resource governance
- Capacity building for the resolution of land-use conflicts. Based on the experiences and results of the “Visión Amazonía” initiative. Work is ongoing within the policy framework for the Amazon region, technical support is being provided to MADS for the development of multisectoral agreements, technical support is being provided to the “Heart of the Amazon” project, led by GEF (and deriving from the “Visión Amazonía” initiative).
- Conflict resolution strategies. The adoption and implementation of conflict resolution strategies by the Colombian Government is being fostered and facilitated, encouraging social and multi-agency participation (including municipal authorities and economic sectors that include extractive and other industries). This, to achieve the objective of securing large areas of endangered and critically endangered ecosystems using new land-use protection tools.
- Land-use regulation. Facilitation and support provided to the MADS for the identification, creation, and delivery of land-use regulations together with different stakeholders, according to the agreed-upon prioritization criteria.
- Minimization of socio-environmental impacts in infrastructure development. A strategy is being jointly implemented, in association with MADS and MT, to minimize the environmental and social impacts of a road to be built approximately 80 miles from La Macarena in San José del Guaviare, which cuts across the biological corridor between the Andes and the Colombian Amazon.
- Interinstitutional cooperation with the Colombian government. The initiative will facilitate and coordinate the identification and development of inter-institutional work plans or agreements for the resolution of socio-environmental conflicts related to infrastructure projects, land tenure, mining, hydrocarbons, protected areas, and wildlife management. Work includes conflict classification, the mapping of relevant stakeholders, and bottlenecks currently in place that prevent effective conflict prevention and management.
- Oil and gas. Capacity building for better governance and operation of the extractive industries, working with partners such as ANDI, EO, ANH, and others. Technical assistance to be provided to achieve best practices in the oil and gas industries and for the implementation of a system with auditable standards. A suite of tools will be imparted to assist operators and service providers in managing best environmental and social practices for the benefit of local communities.
- Training programs. Design and implementation of technical training programs for communities, civil society, and the public and private sectors on sustainable natural resource management, including land-use management; application of environmental and social practices in extractive industries; socio-environmental conflict resolution; use and management of information tools, and other topics. These training programs will cover the following issues: oil, roads, protected areas, conflict resolution, and land restitution.
- Sister Parks Program (NPS). The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is providing technical assistance and training to Colombia’s National Park authority on natural resource management issues, with an emphasis on inventories and monitoring, climate change and water management, environmental interpretation and education, and planning.
- Intersectoral collaboration. The Colombian National Government is developing a multi-ministerial initiative that connects the Ministry of the Environment with the National Park authority, the Ministry of Transportation, the National Roads Institute, the National Hydrocarbons Agency, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the National Mining Agency, the Ministry of Agriculture, and others.
Through experience gained in ICAA work, the initiative will strengthen technical capacity within the National Park authority and other CG agencies, including the private sector and community and indigenous organizations, so that they may actively participate in the design and implementation of environmental regulations and criteria associated with the development of projects and activities, to prevent and mitigate any impacts on the National Park authority’s protected areas, and to offset and award compensation for the loss of biodiversity in and around protected areas.
This will be achieved mainly through capacity building for an increase in multi-sectoral participation in developing legal instruments, such as environmental licenses and stakeholder agreements. This will contribute to a progressive reduction in pressures and threats to biodiversity in and around protected areas.
- Production and dissemination of information. The initiative will contribute to problem solving by making geographic information available to decision makers, and by facilitating the management of this information and other resources.