Biodiversity in Decision Making

Impacts of the international agenda on the governance of biodiversity and its ecosystem services

Ana María HernándezInstituto Alexander von Humboldt Rodrigo MorenoInstituto Alexander von Humboldt Leonardo BocanegraInstituto Alexander von Humboldt María Eugenia RinaudoInstituto Alexander von Humboldt Sergio Andrés ArangurenInstituto Alexander von Humboldt

International obligations regarding biodiversity require an effective consensus between national development proposals. The Colombian Government is expected to conciliate the goals of a sustainable national model with sectorial policies and also to assume the notion of biodiversity as the support of social and economic development.

Managing the natural heritage of a country usually has great challenges. In Colombia, international trends have encouraged the formation of environmental institutions. In fact, in the framework of the Rio Summit in 1992, Colombia strengthened legal, financial, and institutional structures sufficiently enough to improve the management and administration of its natural resources1.

In the 90s Colombia experienced an environmentalist surge that influenced all sectors of society and additionally induced the establishment of a new mechanism of environmental management, the Environmental National System (SINA for its initials in Spanish), in the drafting of the Political Constitution of 1991. However, such impetus ceased in the following decades due to, among other aspects, the creation of development plans that did not connect conservation needs to those of economic growth. Thus plans for mitigating impacts and improving environmental quality were left, again, to have a minor role in public policies2.

In contrast, the international positioning of Colombia regarding environmental subjects during this millennium has offered alternatives to confront the problem of institutional weakness. Colombia has participated in the Rio Summit; Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its protocols, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the Ramsar Convention; the Commission on Sustainable Development; and Rio+20, among others. Such participation has allowed for the incorporation of national priorities in the international agenda, and additionally has made the Colombian State responsible for including them in its policies, plans, and programs. Furthermore, international cooperation as a mechanism of financing the fulfillment of international obligations has been more frequently used.

International agendas and cooperation have incited, to a great extent, the issuing of the National Policy for the Integrated Management of Biodiversity and its Ecosystem Services by the Colombian Government in 2012. Such national policy was developed in agreement to the Aichi Targets of the CBD. Likewise, the Government is currently in the process of formulating, adopting, and developing its National Plan of Action. Additionally, institutional and financial national agreements such as the National Plan for Adapting to Climate Change have been established in accordance to international commitments about climate change4 in order to confront this phenomenon, which is identified as a cause for the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Similarly, in 2010 Colombia recognized, once again, the need of creating an economic model based on sustainable development partly due to new international demands and the requirements of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)5 for accepting the country as one of its members. As a result, the two latest national development plans have been consistent with the position of sustainability5.

Finally, the Colombian Government has the challenge of improving processes to create greater institutional coherence between economic and environmental policies in order to sustainably manage biodiversity for human well-being. In the setting of a post-conflict phase, there are new difficulties for the integrated management of biodiversity because it must face profound territorial transformations and socio-ecological dynamics7.

Conservation without development is socially unacceptable, whereas development without conservation is not sustainable through time.
“...La ciencia se sustenta en unas decisiones y esas decisiones se sustentan a su vez de la ciencia” Ana María Hernández
“El medio ambiente es uno de los sectores con menos financiación por parte de Hacienda, por parte del sector público“ Ana María Hernández