Biodiversity in Colombia
Colombia is home to nearly 10 percent of the world’s biodiversity, with more than 300 types of ecosystems spread across five geographic regions – the Andes, the Caribbean, the Pacific Coast, the Amazon, and the Eastern Plains. It ranks first in bird and orchid species diversity globally, second in plants, butterflies, freshwater fish, and amphibians; and one of the world’s richest countries in aquatic resources. Nearly 10 percent of Colombia’s area of 1,100,000 square kilometres is under forest area, 10 percent under territorial waters, and another 10 percent under protected area.
Colombia’s biodiversity is a potential source of genetic resources and their derived products, which can be used for goods and services in the form of food, raw materials, natural medicines, among others. They are also an important source of high value goods and services for the supply of basic needs and market developments.
In Colombia, access to genetic resources is granted through an access contract that allows bioprospecting and commercial activities with genetic resources and their derivatives, so far Colombia has granted 208 contracts for research purposes, 16 framework contracts with universities and research centers and 9 contracts for commercial purposes, which has allowed the country to receive important contributions derived from the distribution of monetary and non-monetary benefits.
Nagoya Protocol and ABS implementation
Colombia has a strong political support for Access to genetic resources and Benefit-Sharing (ABS). Although the country is not a Party to the Nagoya Protocol, it ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity in 1994 and has a comprehensive legal framework, which consists of laws, decrees and resolutions, that regulates ABS implementation. These include the National Constitution, Law 99 of 1993, Decision 391 on ABS of the Andean Community, Decree No. 730 of 1997 and Law No. 3570 of 2011 (on the appointment of the National Competent Authority for ABS), Decree 1375 of 2013 and Decree No. 1376 of 2013 (collection of biodiversity samples including genetic materials), and Resolution 1348 of 2014 (clarifying the activities which constitute access and are subject to the ABS legal framework). There is also a National Policy for the Integrated Management of Biodiversity and its Ecosystem Services (PNGIBSE) “to ensure the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as fair and equitable profits originating from it in order to contribute to improving the quality of life of the Colombian people.”
Current UNDP-GEF Global ABS Project Activities
The UNDP-GEF Global ABS project is currently working with stakeholders to strengthen partnerships, facilitate identification and documentation of genetic resources and traditional knowledge, and to develop products for commercial purposes. Training is being provided on ABS rules and procedures and how to negotiate and monitor ABS agreements.
Efforts are being made to raise awareness and increase knowledge about ABS and the Nagoya Protocol and to strengthen compliance to existing laws and policies. The project is also supporting actions to strengthen the national strategy on biotechnology.
One of the main project partners, Instituto Sinchi, is supporting the development of a micro-encapsulated pigment for use in the textile industry.