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As a result of work done by WWF and its partners in the Amazon foothills area, ten towns have included climate change criteria in their land planning instruments. This process has just been recognized by the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development as a model for similar processes in other parts of the country.  


Until very recently, it was unthinkable that municipalities in Colombia would take climate change into consideration in their land planning programs. However, a number of initiatives began to show that it was possible, that there were legal tools for doing it, and that it was a crucial step in facing up to this enormous regional challenge. Those initiatives include the one that WWF is leading in the Amazon Piedmont, which is about to become a pilot project for similar experiences in other parts of the country. 

Last week, the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development’s Amazon Regional Climate Change Node* chose the WWF process for including climate change guidelines in municipal planning instruments in Caquetá and Putumayo from among various other initiatives as a model for promoting similar processes in other parts of Colombia.
 
What makes this process suitable for being replicated in other municipalities?
 
In 2014, as part of an alliance with Corpoamazonia, WWF began to promote the inclusion of climate change criteria in municipal planning instruments using a simple, low-cost method that included technical, legal and political elements. The target was to promote new approaches to development, based on principles of sustainability, mitigation and adaptation to climate change, and in less than a year it had succeeded in getting seven municipalities to write the proposal to include climate change adaptation and mitigation guidelines into a Municipal Agreement for an indefinite period. Ten municipalities have currently committed themselves to do this, and the list is expected to continue to grow.
 
Real results
The route that led to these Municipal Agreements being adopted, and which could be replicated in other parts of Colombia, consists of supporting local governments - town halls and municipal councils - in ensuring that climate change guidelines are incorporated into municipal development plans. Several of the municipalities have thus implemented management projects relating to solid waste, environmental education, land purchases for protecting water sources, recovering damaged areas, and introducing sustainable renewable energy systems. The aim of all this is to reduce vulnerability and contribute to a future scenario of sustainable economic development, in line with national climate change policy directives. 


The process, which is sponsored by WWF UK and Nicfi/NORAD, has also promoted the strengthening of skills among members of the community and for town hall and provincial government staff, councilors and local partners, with a view to improving institutional coordination and decision-making when it comes to dealing with climate change at municipal and regional planning levels. 


According to Ilvia Niño, who is in charge of WWF actions in the Amazon Piedmont, this recognition “highlights efforts to reinforce local skills for taking on board national climate change guidelines and empowering local people”. And although there is still a long way to go, initiatives like this show that it is possible to promote actions which aim for development that is more compatible with the climate. 

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© WWF-Colombia

Until very recently, it was unthinkable that municipalities in Colombia would take climate change into consideration in their land planning programs.

© WWF-Colombia