GCF and World Wildlife Fund sign key Colombia landscapes agreement

  • Article type News update
  • Publication date 21 Mar 2023

GCF and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have signed an agreement to rapidly implement an innovative project which aims to support more sustainable management of Colombia’s landscapes. 

The project focuses on protecting Colombia's natural ecosystems and biodiversity, while also promoting sustainable livelihoods for local communities and will help to conserve the country’s varied landscapes which have been hit hard by climate-related events such as droughts, floods, landslides and fires in recent years.

Heritage Colombia (HECO), Maximising the Contributions of Sustainably Managed Landscapes in Colombia for Achievement of Climate Goals, will both reduce emissions and help people adapt to the effects of climate change. The project will bring together climate-resilient management of protected areas, significant carbon storage, water regulation and enhance the resilience of local communities. 

It is part of the Heritage Colombia Project Finance for Permanence initiative, a public-private partnership designed to secure financial sustainability for large-scale landscape management by blending public and private finance, united around the common goal of combining conservation with climate change adaptation and mitigation.

This innovative project uses a ‘Project Finance for Permanence’ approach, through mechanisms such as royalties and a carbon tax. HECO Colombia will effectively reallocate part of the revenue from the fossil fuels and extractive industries to nature conservation and the sustainable use of landscapes, which will nearly double public financial flows to conserving landscapes and maintaining them in perpetuity.

It will also enhance water security, a top priority in Colombia where the agricultural sector and rural communities are heavily reliant on the country’s diverse ecosystems and up to 80 per cent of the urban population are affected by water scarcity during dry years.

The total project value is USD 145.2 million, including a USD 43 million grant from GCF.

Speaking at the signing of a Funded Activity Agreement, which allows the project to begin implementation, GCF Executive Director Yannick Glemarec said, “We are very pleased to be a partner of WWF and I believe this innovation in terms of financing for performance will become the dominant paradigm in the coming years.  This is not only a smart project, it’s a project with a soul. Congratulations to all the teams who have been working on this project.“

"The approval of these resources by the Green Climate Fund for Herencia Colombia is an important support for the country in its inclusive strategies for effective conservation of ecosystems, and contributes directly to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. For WWF Colombia, this is great news, as it will allow us to strengthen the processes of social and territorial governance of water, connectivity, and the reduction of vulnerability in communities as axes, and will help strengthen capacities in the territories, as well as to deploy actions monitoring programs focused on the generation of a local economy and the reduction of emissions. It also represents a fundamental advance in our objective of fostering a positive relationship between people and nature, since it will impact nearly 17 million people who live around protected areas and prioritized corridors,” said Sandra Valenzuela, director of WWF Colombia.

“Herencia Colombia promises to tackle the crises of climate change and nature loss on a big scale. By financing the protection of 32 million hectares of Colombia’s most treasured places, this initiative will help to limit emissions on par with removing nearly 10 million cars from the road for a full year,” said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF-US. “We thank the Green Climate Fund for investing in this initiative. And we look forward to a continued partnership with the Green Climate Fund in advancing this model for conservation.”

Jimena Cortés, the Technical Advisor to the National Planning Department, Government of Colombia said, “We reiterate our gratitude to GCF and a special recognition to the WWF team and partners as HECO is a strategic project, not only for the future of our country, but of the entire planet.”

Full details of the project are available on the GCF website.