Sustainable Infrastructure in the Amazon: Colombia Country Case Study

Deforestation in the Colombian Amazon remains a significant and ongoing challenge. Colombia has lost more than 6 million hectares of forest since the early 1990s due to a confluence of environmental, security, economic, and governance factors: weak state presence, weak governance, and a lack of national-subnational coordination in infrastructure. Insecurity and weak state presence in Colombia not only leads to insufficient citizen security, public services, and economic opportunities, but allows for illegal activities to thrive which negatively impacts the Amazon Basin (e.g, illegal mining and drug production and trafficking). Moreover, despite strong environmental protections within Colombia’s legal framework, weak governance, pervasive corruption, and an inadequate land titling system in the Colombian Amazon prevent the government from stopping deforestation efforts and effectively enforcing and implementing laws. Last, lack of coordination in the basin results in poor and wasteful infrastructure projects, which negatively impact the sustainability of the Colombian Amazon. Nevertheless, Colombia has the foundation, international support, and resources to form a more sustainable approach to protect, preserve, and uphold law in the Amazon Basin. This approach should consist of combining security with economic development and environmental preservation, a multisectoral and integrated vision for infrastructure development, and strengthening land governance in the Amazon Basin.

This project was made possible by generous support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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Romina Bandura
Senior Fellow, Project on Prosperity and Development, Project on U.S. Leadership in Development

Mary Margaret Burniston

Sundar R. Ramanujam

Research Associate, Project on Prosperity and Development