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From:,  License: CC BY 2.0 , Attribution: Niek Van Son

Financing Natural Capital in Colombia

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To achieve lasting development visions in the Colombian Caribbean, such as enhancing tourism and providing water for a planned regional aqueduct, it is critically important to safeguard the natural capital assets that underpin the region’s economy, culture, and wellbeing. NatCap mapped the mangroves, sea grasses, coral reefs, and forests in the Gulf of Morrosquillo and quantified their benefits to people in terms of blue carbon, reducing coastal vulnerability to flooding and erosion, storing carbon in the soils of coastal ecosystems (also known as blue carbon), and providing water. In collaboration with Colombia’s Department of National Planning and national statistical office, NatCap also developed pilot ecosystem service accounts for the region to track where and how ecosystems contribute to energy security and water security. Results from this work are informing national policy, such as payments for ecosystems services schemes, and a national methodology for natural capital accounting.

Project Details: 

The Government of Colombia’s National Development Plan for 2018-2022 establishes a process for municipalities to coordinate in creating and implementing regional visions for development. Based on this the Government of Colombia, in conjunction with municipal and departmental leaders, signed the Territorial Pact of the Gulf of Morrosquillo for 2020-2025, laying out a path towards more sustainable prosperity for the region.

The Gulf of Morrosquillo encompasses eight municipalities located in two departments along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The region is home to nearly 350,000 people and is the ancestral territory of Afrocolombians and Indigenous peoples. From coastal corals and mangroves, to upland forests, the region’s natural ecosystems underpin the region’s economy, culture and well-being. These ecosystems are also critical to achieving the region’s development goals, including enhancing tourism and increasing water availability. 

The Natural Capital Project and Colombia’s Department of National Planning worked together to use the Gulf of Morrosquillo as a pilot area to demonstrate where key ecosystems play the most important roles in reducing coastal vulnerability to flooding and erosion, storing carbon in the soils of coastal ecosystems (also known as blue carbon), and providing water security. Based on analyses done with the InVEST software, the Natural Capital Project identified ecosystems that are a high priority for protection or restoration to ensure their benefits are secured into the future. 

Using the case of the Gulf of Morrosquillo, the Colombian government is working with the Natural Capital Project to enhance its natural capital accounts to capture additional benefits from nature. These new accounts are being designed to scale throughout the country to guide national policy, such as new payment for ecosystem services schemes to halt deforestation in river sources, and programs to protect mangroves from habitat conversion.

Project Category: Sustainable Development Planning 
Project Status: Current 
Research Area: Sustainable Development

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