HEALTHY PEOPLE & ECONOMY VIA ECO-MANAGEMENT: COLOMBIA EXEMPLAR


HEALTHY PEOPLE & ECONOMY VIA ECO-MANAGEMENT: COLOMBIA EXEMPLAR

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Development initiatives aimed at inducing health for the people while at the same time building a strong economy is a tough job to do. More so if the key strategy for attaining such goals is better environmental management.

Such challenges already faced the development experts and stakeholders in my own country the Philippines when I began my own profession as a development specialist in the early 80s. Environmentalism wasn’t even an in thing in my country, though the cudgels for eco-advocacy was taken by my first employer the Ministry of Human Settlements. The agency operated on a framework of ‘basic needs’ among which were health, livelihood and ecological balance.

Among continents to search for exemplars of successful integration of the key result areas—livelihood, health and environmental management—is South America. Here the humble nation of Colombia shows the positive results of such development initiatives, thus erasing the largely negative image the nation sustained due to drug cartel operations in the past.

Below is a special report from the World Bank about the Colombia experiences.

[Philippines, 25 September 2011]

Source: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:22904508~menuPK:64256345~pagePK:34370~piPK:34424~theSitePK:4607,00.html

Colombia: Healthier People, A Stronger Economy Through Better Environmental Management

Overview
With the support of the World Bank, Colombia introduced a number of reforms that reduced air pollution levels in large cities and introduced new instruments for improved environmental management, potentially benefitting both the health of its people and also its economy. The Government increased public participation in environmental decision-making, and prepared critical policies and laws related to sustainable development, air quality, water quality, solid waste management, and environmental licensing.

MORE INFORMATION
• Programmatic Development Policy Loan for Sustainable Development – P081397 (2005-2006)
• Second Programmatic Development Policy Loan for Sustainable Development – P095877 (2007-2008)
• Third Programmatic Development Policy Loan for Sustainable Development – P101301 (2008-2009)

Challenge
In 2006 it was estimated that the costs of environmental degradation – such as urban air pollution, and inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene – amounted to 3.7 percent of Colombia’s gross domestic product, compromising Colombia’s potential for sustainable economic growth. Outdoor air pollution, especially fine particulate matter such as sulfur in transport fuels, was recorded as an important cause of respiratory illness, especially among women and children, contributing to approximately 6,000 deaths in Colombia per year. Costs associated with intestinal morbidity from contaminated water and inadequate hygiene was high, particularly in children. The 2006 Country Environmental Analysis found that priority-setting and institutional coordination to address environmental issues was weak; there was no direct correlation between national priorities, and investments by local environmental authorities.

Approach
The Sustainable Development Policy Loan (DPL) series from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) was designed to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Colombia’s National Environmental System, and to integrate principles of sustainable development into key sectors, with a particular emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable groups. Prior preparation and additional IBRD support helped the Program to both set and achieve these objectives. The policy reforms undertaken by the Government of Colombia were based on a solid analytical foundation that included a Country Environmental Analysis from 2006, which highlighted priority areas for reform in that sector. The analytical work also persuaded the Government to act as the primary force in reforming the sector, and the program was integrated in its National Development Plan for 2006-2010. Additional support, totaling US$7 million, from the IBRD’s Sustainable Development Investment Project has financed targeted actions and investments to support the development and implementation of the DPL program’s policy reforms.

Results
Successive IDA financing of US$16 million, US$45 million, and US$20 provided vital flood control structures in the city of Taiz and its surrounding areas. By the closing of the second phase in June 2008, major parts of Taiz city, including downtown Taiz, were transformed into livable and flash flood-secure neighborhoods and the impact of the projects on the lives and livelihoods of the people in these areas is substantial. The structures built under these successive phases include:
• Colombia approved national policies for environmental health (2008), air quality (2008), and water (2010);
• It also passed a law on fuel quality in 2008 that reduced sulfur content in diesel from 1,000 parts per million to 500 ppm in Colombia’s largest cities;
• It established an air quality monitoring network for in 21 cities;
• The government created a Water Resources Group in the Ministry of Environment, Housing, and Territorial Development, which is the first centralized group responsible for planning and budgeting activities related to water resources management in Colombia;
• At least 25 municipalities adopted watershed management plans in areas of water scarcity in order to better manage and monitor valuable natural resources;
• Colombia undertook a hygiene and hand-washing campaign to reduce incidence of water-related disease, especially amongst children and the poor;
• It passed an Urban Environmental Policy in 2008 that clarifies the roles and responsibilities of local environmental authorities;
• The government created a system for the regular management reporting of local environmental authorities, with reports made available to the public;
• It also established a monitoring and evaluation system for environmental policies, providing input into environmental management decisions.
Bank Contribution
IBRD provided US$300,000 for the 2006 Country Environmental Analysis that was critical in establishing an analytical framework for the Sustainable Development DPL program, which consisted of a series of three operations between 2005 and 2010. IBRD support for the program totaled US$800 million. In addition, the Sustainable Development Investment Loan for US$7 million, which became effective in 2006, has financed key activities to support implementation of the program. The World Bank is currently working toward the provision of an additional US$10 million to further support this operation.

Partners
Close coordination with other donors was an integral part of preparation of the DPL program. The program is designed to complement the Inter-American Development Bank’s Urban Social Housing and National Environmental System projects, which support strengthening of environmental institutions. The Bank also collaborated with officials from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Colombia, who have prepared an environmental program that supports institutional strengthening within Colombia’s National Environmental System and the country’s wider conservation efforts. The World Bank team worked closely with the Dutch embassy and other partners to ensure that all donor activities in this sector were complementary.

Moving Forward
The Government has requested several pieces of analytical work that build on the foundations of the DPL Program, and which will examine a range of other key issues, including: incentives to achieve reductions in emissions from mobile sources; biodiversity management; an estimation of environmental and health costs from illegal mining; an analysis of the impacts of urban air pollution; and mechanisms to incorporate environmental management into key sectors. The Government has also requested the expansion of the Sustainable Development Investment Project through an additional financing of US$10 million, currently under preparation, which will continue to provide support to the objectives of the original DPL program.

Beneficiaries
The Sustainable Development DPL program aimed to benefit not only individual communities, or even cities, but the entire Colombian population. By making improvements across the entire environmental sector, ranging from reduced air and water pollution to improved transparency and governance in environmental management, the DPL was able to benefit people across social and economic strata and has successfully improved the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people.

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