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Much of South America's water originates in the high Andes. Paramo vegetation acts like a sponge to absorb water which is then delivered to people downstream.

Adapting to a Changing Climate in Colombia

The water, coasts and mountains of Colombia directly benefit 80% of the population — and are critical to protecting against climate impacts.

© Trond Larsen

Nature Is Vital

Colombia is one of the countries most vulnerable to these impacts, due to its large coastal, marine and mountain ecosystems that provide direct benefits to its population. Already, climate change is wreaking havoc in parts of Colombia — causing flooding, landslides, changes in water provision, impacts on human health and more. The Colombian government has been a visionary ally in the country’s adaptation to the effects of climate change. Working in close partnership with CI, the country has made huge strides in improving the resilience of its people to the climatic shifts that threaten their sources of water and livelihoods.​

O​​ur role

In 2006, Conservation International, in partnership with the Colombian government, started the country’s first climate change adaptation project. Financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the project contributed to the development of Colombia’s national climate change policy and several adaptation projects in highly vulnerable areas.

Our plan

Identify actions

During 2013, we carried out a vulnerability assessment of 115 municipalities around Bogotá to determine the most effective ways to fight climate change. Access to water was chosen as the main focus. The study identified the supply and consumption of water for different uses and proposed several adaptation actions to cope with the changes in water provision that will accompany a changing climate. This methodology will be replicated in other areas of Colombia.

Expand impact

We are replicating our most successful projects in mountainous areas of Colombia that have similar ecological and social conditions. Regional environmental authorities are using guidelines for land use planning and restoration — which CI helped develop alongside NGO and governmental partners — to help the most vulnerable high mountain areas of the country build resilience against climate change impacts.

Involve local people

A new five-year project supported by the GEF will assess the vulnerability of the Chingaza-Sumapaz-Guerrero corridor, which provides water to the city of Bogotá, and implement adaptation actions to guarantee water regulation and provision to the city. Specific actions include restoration, development of climate-smart landscapes in rural areas, capacity building of local authorities, and dissemination of information about climate change, including how to adapt traditional farming to promote sustainable land use and recover the forest cover on more than 100 farms located near Bogotá. Strengthening and supporting local institutions to sustainably use their land is key in reducing the impacts of climate change.

Evening Sky over Bogota
© Gunther Beck

By the numbers

~ 8 million people

We are implementing climate change adaptation actions around Bogotá to protect the water source for the city’s nearly 8 million residents.