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Environmental Management in Colombia

Colombia has been at the forefront of environmental management in Latin America during the past several decades. It was one of the first countries in the region to organize environmental administration along watershed boundaries, pilot a system of pollution taxes, require environmental impact assessments for large construction projects, and institutionalize legal remedies against polluters.

Yet Colombia still faces serious environmental and natural resource challenges. Major urban centers suffer from severe air pollution. Many of the country's largest rivers are severely polluted. Most solid and hazardous waste is dumped illegally or in facilities without adequate environmental controls. And farming, ranching, and logging have contributed to rapid deforestation and soil degradation.

As part of its continuing restructuring efforts, in 2003, the Colombian Government requested a World Bank Sustainable Development Structural Adjustment Loan, accompanied by a Technical Assistance Loan. To assist in planning these efforts, the World Bank and Government of Colombia contracted with Resources for the Future to conduct three major studies of Colombia's environmental management institutions and policies as part of a World Bank Colombia Country Environmental Analysis.

Link to Figure 1
Map of Colombia


Assessment of Colombia's National Environmental System (SINA) by RFF senior fellows Allen Blackman and Richard Morgenstern, RFF fellow Sandra Hoffmann, and an independent consultant, Elizabeth Topping, evaluates the performance of the Colombia's key environmental management institutions including the Ministry of Environment, Housing, and Territorial Development, the Autonomous Regional Corporations, non-governmental organizations, and the courts. This Power Point presentation summarizes the main findings. 


Institutional Analysis of Colombia's Autonomous Regional Coporations (CARS) by Allen Blackman, Richard Morgenstern, and Elizabeth Topping, provides an in-depth look at the performance of Colombia's unique regional environmental management institutions. This Power Point presentation summarizes the main findings.


Review of the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Colombia's Environmental Policies, by Allen Blackman and Richard Morgenstern with the assistance of two Colombian consultants, Libardo Montealegre Murcia, and Juan Carlos García de Brigard, assesses environmental management policies in six areas: air pollution, solid waste, water pollution, land degradation, climate change, and natural disasters.



Colombia's Discharge Fee Program: Incentives for Polluters or Regulators? 
an RFF discussion paper (DP 05-31) by Allen Blackman was extracted from the third report listed above. It evaluates Colombia's much-publicized water pollution charge system. 


Link to Resources article

Economic Incentives to Control Water Pollution in Developing Countries: How Well has Colombia's Wastewater Discharge Fee Program Worked and Why? by Allen Blackman is a shorter version of the paper above that appeared in Resources magazine.

Two additional focused papers on environmental management in Colombia are planned for 2006. Allen Blackman and Richard Morgenstern are writing a paper on the country's experience with environmental decentralization--the devolution of environmental management authority to local institutions. Also, Allen Blackman, Richard Morgenstern, and Sandra Hoffmann are writing a paper on the role of public participation in Colombia's environmental sector.

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