Conservation donations

Cash donations flow into Colombia to help protect its rainforests.

On 21 September 2021, the Rainforest Trust announced the launching of a USD 15 million conservation fund to support the expansion of Colombia’s system of national natural parks and other areas of natural conservation. This follows shortly after last April’s approval by the World Bank of an additional USD 18.4 million grant from the Global Environmental Facility for the Forest Conservation and Sustainability in the Heart of the Colombian Amazon Project.

“There is a lot of environmental activism in Colombia,” began a former Environment Minister, “over USD 200 million has been donated from international partners in the US, UK, Norway and Germany. There are initiatives of all kinds: forest governance, sustainable development, environmental law compliance, carbon credit initiatives, reconversion of polluting businesses such as agriculture and hydrocarbons, etc.”

“There is a lot of environmental activism in Colombia, over USD 200 million has been donated from international partners in the US, UK, Norway and Germany.”

Former Environment Minister, Colombia

The former head of a regional environmental NGO commented, “Colombia has a lot to offer philanthropists, most importantly, data: in Colombia you can collect data and information not only from government agencies but also from civil society. I would expect environmental donations to continue growing – Brazil has a fund of over USD 1 billion, primarily from the Norwegians.”

The Rainforest Trust donation will be made over a five-year period. The funds will be granted through a number of associations focused on the long-term protection of the tropical ecosystem which will be coordinated by the National System of Protected Areas, a department under the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Regional Development. The former Minister continued, “USD 15 million is a significant private contribution today, but the scale of the problem in Colombia is much larger.”

An environmental activist in Bogotá was concerned about accountability, “Accountability for this type of investment is very low and there is still a lot of uncertainty as it is not clear yet how the money will be invested. The world of private donations is complex and is sometimes driven by other interest such as reputational, commercial, political and thematic.”

“The world of private donations is complex and is sometimes driven by other interest such as reputational, commercial, political and thematic.”

Environmental activist, Colombia

President Iván Duque claims that his government managed to reduce deforestation in the country by almost 20% during his first two years in office. Furthermore, the government plans to plant 180 million trees by August 2022 while it combats illegal activities which pose a threat to the environment such as cultivating coca and illegal metal activities. However, Insight Crime, an investigative journalism organisation, claims that the country lacks capacity, resources and general political will to combat illegal activities in Colombia’s rainforests, and particularly in the Amazon.

The activist was disappointed with the lack of action from successive governments, “Successive Ministers of Finance have reduced the budget allocation to environmental issues, at present there is a very short-sighted view of the real effects of climate change on Colombia. I hope it rises up the agenda for the next presidential elections in 2022 but it will take a generational transition for politicians to understand the problem better.”

Recent donations for Colombia’s environmental conservation show increasing global awareness of the need to protect biodiversity and rainforests. In this context, the Latin American Conservation Council insists on the need to institutionalise green recovery into policy frameworks, finance budgets and low-carbon initiatives.

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