Meeting policy challenges for a responsible biodiversity based bio-economy in Colombia

Lead Research Organisation: Earlham Institute
Department Name: Research Faculty

Abstract

Colombia is one of the 17 "megadiverse" countries in the world. Developing a sustainable bioeconomy based on the responsible use of its biodiversity is a priceless opportunity for the equitable, inclusive and sustainable socio-economic growth of the country. Colombia is just starting to develop and implement bioeconomic strategies and policies, as well as the related systematic assessment of the environmental and social impacts brought by such economic changes.

Our cluster will bring together academic researchers, key industry, and government and policy advisors from Colombia and the UK to contribute establishing sustainable bioeconomic strategies (Phase 1) and pilot initiatives (Phase 2) in the agri-food and scientific ecotourism sectors in four targeted regions of Colombia. These strategic sectors and regions have been identified in previous activities.

The cluster builds on three UKRI GCRF projects (>£10M investment) in Latin America, mainly Colombia, with strong complementary capacity building programmes ("GROW Colombia", "CABANA" and "UKRI GCRF Trade, Development and the Environment Hub"), two Newton-Fund projects in Colombia (BRIDGE and C3biodiversidad), and the policy work by the PIs in the UK and Colombia, who participated as experts in the Colombian President's mission to develop Colombia's Science, technology and innovation (STI) agenda. Colombian partners include business associations and the Chamber of Commerce of the targetted regions, exemplary bioeconomic business, non-profit organisations implementing ecotourism pilot projects and key Universities and Research Institutes working in these four regions from our previous activities.

The cluster in this first phase (12 months) will facilitate three regional workshops to foster multisectoral partnerships in the agri-food and ecotourism sector in four regions. It will also conduct technical assessments of the existing and required capacity as well as market opportunities and challenges in each region, and eventually propose pilot strategies to transform the value chains while conserving the natural resources and yielding transparent environmental, social and economic benefits, that could be elaborated in a second phase.

Our cluster is built on a shared vision of ensuring environmental sustainability in Colombia. Our work can be extended to other developing LATAM countries with similar needs and opportunities where our activities are already happening (Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, etc.). The cluster also responds to and interconnects various sustainable development goals (SDGs), and provides capacities to a generation of scientists, managers and industry actors crossing disciplines for the local action of such SDGs.

Planned Impact

Colombia is the second most diverse country in the world, in terms of species richness, habitats and diversity of cultures. An important part of Colombia's economy is based on natural resource extraction, biodiversity loss and its consequences on ecosystem functioning and services is a global challenge, and its negative impacts are more severely felt by poor people and countries where the dependence on natural resources is higher and the capacity to utilise them lower or lacking.

At this very important time in Colombian post-conflict history, we propose an innovative development strategy to deliver a multidisciplinary and integrated approach, which connects multi-sectoral institutions in the UK and Colombia to develop a shared vision centred on a biodiversity-based economy as a means to achieve sustainability and social and economic prosperity. Our short-term goal is to build research capacity, partnerships and knowledge, with a longer-term goal of stimulating economic and social growth around biodiversity.

In order to maximise the impact of its activities, the cluster builds on existing UKRI and Newton-Fund investments, existing partnerships, and novel engagements with industry, NGOs and government at the national and regional levels in order to contribute establishing sustainable bioeconomic strategies (Phase 1) and pilot initiatives (Phase 2) in the agri-food and scientific ecotourism sectors in four targeted regions of Colombia. These strategic sectors and regions have been identified in previous activities. It is only by bringing together expertise from different disciplines and multi-sectoral perspectives that we can address the challenges of developing countries and effectively contribute to policymaking and implementation.

The cluster will deliver transversal impact through clear measurable outcomes aimed at (a) strengthening multi-sectoral (academia, industry, government) partnerships in the agri-food and scientific tourism sectors, (b) enhancing the economic development of Colombian regions around pilot strategies, (c) facilitating advanced skills and best practices amongst key actors in the potential sectors.

Publications

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