Colombia Strengthens Commitment to Fight Amazon Deforestation in Partnership with WEF Tropical Forest Alliance 2020
Last year, Colombia joined the World Economic Forum’s Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 coalition of international stakeholders to help protect the Amazon from further deforestation.
The goal of the initiative is to begin reversing the negative effects that logging and agricultural clear-cutting have had in more than 60 million hectares of the world’s largest jungle. Ongoing deforestation is a “major driver” of pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and biodiversity loss, said the World Economic Forum in a statement, and the group’s efforts will push to halt those factors while promoting sustainable development.
“We are pleased to have a critical mass of companies and organizations joining these efforts.” – Luis Gilberto Murillo, Colombian environmental minister
By 2020, the partnership is hoping to achieve “zero net deforestation” in the Colombian Amazon, and, by 2030, “to have stopped all natural forest loss,” according to the World Economic Forum.
Colombia has joined 14 other governments that have signed on as official Tropical Alliance 2020 partners, including Brazil, the United States, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Ghana, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
More recently, through a new domestic platform of public and private stakeholders, the country has launched the TFA 2020 Colombia Alliance. The first task in Colombia will be to tackle deforestation caused by the palm oil industry, which has come under fire in recent years in Colombia for harming the environment. In time, the efforts will extend to confront damage done by the timber, beef, and dairy sectors.
The alliance’s work will largely follow principles laid out in its “Commodities and Forests Agenda 2020,” which is supported by the partner governments and environmental groups such as World Wide Fund for Nature, Fondo Acción, and the Nature Conservancy. Several private companies operating in the country have also supported the efforts, including leading Colombian retailer Grupo Éxito, consumer goods giant Unilever, dairy firm Alqueria, and agricultural companies Poligrow and Yara International.
According to the World Economic Forum, Éxito was the first Colombian company to join the alliance in 2014. It has since worked to promote reforestation and sustainable agricultural development efforts within the Andean nation.
“We are pleased to have a critical mass of companies and organizations joining these efforts,” said Luis Gilberto Murillo, Colombia’s minister of environment and sustainable development (MinAmbiente).
He highlighted recent governmental initiatives, including the “Palm Oil Zero Deforestation Agreement” and “National Forest and Carbon Monitoring System,” that have aligned with the goals of a Tropical Forest Alliance 2020. Such work “represents a key effort in bringing down international commitments to the Colombian context,” said the minister.
With around 1,900 different species of birds (the most of any country in the world), more than 50,000 species of plants, and many other forms of life, Colombia is the second most biodiverse nation after Brazil. In all, the medium-sized country is home to around 10% of the known species of plant and animal life on Earth.
Environmentalism has become increasingly common in the country over the past decade and advocates continue to clash with the private sector. A series of popular referendums have placed a prohibition on mining in various municipalities and more and more advocates are waging campaigns to protect cloud forest, páramo, and coastal ecosystems across Colombia.
Photo: The Tropical Forest Alliance 2020 is looking to stop deforestation in parts of the Amazon, such as this swath of jungle in the department of Vaupés near Mitú. (Credit: Jared Wade)