Colombia paves the way from adaptation planning to local implementation in five agricultural sub-sectors
February 2023 – Colombia has ideal growing conditions for agricultural production, but it’s also threatened by climate induced weather events, such as La Niña, which brings strong periods of drought followed by intense rain. Colombia is the third most populous country in Latin America and rural smallholder farmers make up 31.8 percent of the population. Small holder farmers are engaged in a number of activities including coffee production, grains (rice and corn), cocoa, bananas, sugar cane and many more. The agriculture sector absorbs 23 percent of climate-related loss and damages in the country.
According to Colombia’s updated nationally determined contribution (NDC) in 2020, Colombia only contributes 0.4 percent of global emissions with 71.3 percent of domestic greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture and land use. To scale up climate action, Colombia partnered with the FAO and UNDP Scaling up Climate Ambition on Land Use and Agriculture through NDCs and National Adaptation Plans (SCALA) programme, funded by Germany’s International Climate Initiative (IKI) to help bridge the divide between national and local levels to implement the priorities outlined in country climate plans.
Following the inception workshop in Colombia last year, the SCALA programme sat down with Mr. Nelson Lozano, the Ministry of Agriculture focal point for the programme, to learn more about the national, sectoral and regional priorities for climate action and the activities being implemented over the course of the programme.
What are some of the key adaptation and mitigation priorities in agriculture and land use that have been outlined in your country's NDC?
Mr. Nelson Lozano: As communicated in the updated NDC, Colombia is driving a low-carbon and climate-resilient development approach in the country with specific goals and measures in different sectors and territories. Colombia is aiming to include climate change considerations into the planning instruments of the agricultural sector and implement innovative adaptation actions. The country is focusing on improving the capacities of 10 agricultural subsectors (rice, corn, palm, potato, beef cattle, dairy cattle, cocoa, banana, coffee, and sugar cane) to adapt to climate change.
In addition to the goals outlined in the NDC, actions are being carried out to provide agricultural producers with high-quality climate information through participatory spaces and the joint construction of a capacity-building platform called "Technical Agroclimatic Tables” (Mesas Técnicas Agroclimáticas – MTAs) at the national level and in the five regions that have the greatest agricultural potential.
What are some of Colombia's main barriers to achieving adaptation and mitigation goals?
Mr. Nelson Lozano: Colombia has made considerable efforts to mainstream adaptation and mitigation priorities into its national development plans. However, it is necessary to strengthen local capacities in tandem. We are strengthening local capacities by improving climate information and tools and improving adaptation management through the implementation of current planning instruments at the sectoral and territorial levels. Colombia and its five regions have a multicultural and diverse context, which is why it’s important to strengthen capacity across all levels of society. Furthermore, the most relevant barrier for the agriculture sector is to channel investments for climate adaptation and mitigation implementation. Also, given the geographic heterogeneity of the country, more technical and financial support is required to strengthen the resilience of production systems.
Where do you see the SCALA programme adding value to overcome these obstacles and achieve these priorities?
Mr. Nelson Lozano: The SCALA programme approach is tackling intervention actions at various levels in Colombia. At the national level, SCALA is designed to strengthen the integral management of the Comprehensive Plan for Climate Change Management of the Agricultural Sector (PIGCC-Ag).
At the sectoral level, and in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture, SCALA is strengthening collaboration with the private sector. Private sector engagement will enhance adaptation dialogues and implement voluntary agreement processes. It can also enable new opportunity windows of climate financing and implement practical tools in a territorial analysis on risks and vulnerabilities for each department. The analysis of results will be disseminated through a virtual platform. The country will also develop a systematization route of preserving 15 traditional indigenous knowledge practices oriented towards climate adaptation in the five regions in Colombia.
At the sub-national level, SCALA is focusing on climate change considerations in planning instruments of the agricultural sector. The programme is implementing regional adaptation actions in five agricultural subsectors: rice, corn, cattle and dairy cattle, sugar cane and cocoa, and developing actions with transformative potential. In this context, a certification scheme is being developed and piloted for small and medium-sized producers who voluntarily adopt climate adaptation measures on their farms.
And lastly, to increase the productivity of the sector while preserving the nature-based solutions, two scalable experiences will be developed at the local level in the moorland ecosystems. This activity is seeking a real impact for rural producers through territorial laboratories and observatory strategies that facilitate the scaling up of these actions.
SCALA actions must be integrated with existing programmes and projects in-country or those in the process of being implemented, such as ProNDC GIZ. This project implements climate adaptation actions in corn, dairy and meat farming in the Sucre and Córdoba regions and intends to be replicated in other territories. Another in-country project is the Biocarbon Fund project that foresees its initiation in 2023, and will work with the corn, cattle and cocoa value chains.
With this approach, the SCALA programme can join forces, collaborate and contribute to reducing the gaps and barriers identified in the agricultural sector, particularly for those medium and small-scale producers, and in conjunction with municipal, departmental, and national authorities, strengthen Colombia’s agriculture sector to be more resilient to climate change and safeguard the livelihoods of family farmers and businesses.