Colombia: Comprehensive Reinforcement of National Development

July 21, 2011

WASHINGTON D.C., July 21st, 2011 – The troubled global economic scenario of the last few years has not stopped Colombia’s development agenda from experiencing substantial progress. Efforts to strengthen the areas of transportation, education, health or the environment are gradually moving the country closer to the orbit of “first world” countries, represented by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

With the intention of broadening this development, the World Bank Board of Executive Directors endorsed a Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) with Colombia that, in addition to the traditional package of loans and financial services, will also promote cross-sectoral –and results-based– solutions that incorporate the best cutting edge knowledge from each sector.

This new partnership seeks to support the 2010-2014 National Development Plan and improve the quality of life for 1.5 million people by merging two key antipoverty programs, as well as to facilitating access to early childhood development to 1.2 million vulnerable children.

In a multipolar world, where South American countries need to interact with the Asian Tigers giants as well as with traditional partners, the World Bank will provide Colombia with its global knowledge and convening capacity, attempting to bring together experts from several fields and organizations in order to make available to the country cutting edge knowledge on what works and what doesn’t in key development areas.

To that end, the CPS incorporates a package of services package (including financial, analytic and technical assistance services, among others) that leaves behind the traditional project by project approach in order to contribute –in a more selective and efficient way– to government efforts of reaching a more equitable and just society.

According to the World Bank’s Director for Mexico and Colombia, Gloria M. Grandolini, “This new strategy focuses on those areas where the Bank provides an added value, such as expanding opportunities for social inclusion, sustainable development with a low carbon development approach, inclusive growth, improved competitiveness and infrastructure development.”

“Traditionally, the Bank used to lend financial resources for projects or to undertake studies on specific issues. Today, we have learned that the needs of a middle-income country such as Colombia demand a greater integration of services. The goal is to facilitate solutions that meet the demands of our client,” said Grandolini.

With this new CPS, covering the July 2011-June 2016 period, Colombia’s development agenda will be strengthened on several fronts. Transportation is one of them, as 1, 800.000 people will benefit from high-quality urban transportation on a daily basis as a result of the implementation of the Urban Transportation Project–, while improving competitiveness, the environment and the quality of life in urban areas. With respect to the environment, this new partnership incorporates a series of measures that focus on mitigating the effects of climate change, such as the development creation of a national low carbon development strategy on increased carbon emissions.

Additionally, a National Disaster Risk Management Policy will be also formulated established contributing to reduce the amount of deaths caused by natural disasters in areas inhabited by the most vulnerable population. As part of this green commitment, it is expected to increase forest grazing systems that currently serve to protect the environment in Colombian pasturelands. In parallel, a US$4 million fund will be provided for Colombia’s protected areas trough the Global Environment Facility (GEF) , in particular the Conservation Mosaic Program, chosen as one of the 14 most creative and important conservation initiatives in the world during the International Biodiversity Year.

This new integral package of development services, will allow communities near protected areas to formulate, along with local authorities and representatives from National Natural Parks, conservation strategies and promote the sustainable use of biodiversity. The new partnership with Colombia also aims at strengthening economic sustainability and fiscal growth, providing US$300 million to improve the predictability and stability of the national budget and reduce the fiscal deficit to 3.2 percent of Gross National Product (GDP) or less.