Better Environmental Resource Management in Colombia

April 4, 2014


The natural park Galeras, near Pasto, in the South of Colombia.

World Bank Group

As a result of the implementation of grant-supported activities, capacity in Colombia at the national and regional levels has been improved for the production of information and the monitoring and evaluation of environmental quality. The regulatory framework has been strengthened, especially for air quality standards. In particular, this grant provided critical support to enable linkages between the four key areas of Colombia’s Air Quality Reform agenda, namely: (i) fuel quality improvement, (ii) implementation of improved technologies, (iii) monitoring and control; and (iv) elimination of obsolete vehicles.


The complex National Environmental System in Colombia (SINA) aims to adequately reflect the vast differences between regions and effectively decentralize environmental management. Despite its good intentions, environmental management, particularly in priority issues such as air and water quality, is faced with the challenges of coordination, collaboration and information sharing and production in Regional Autonomous Corporations of widely varying levels of capacity. 


This grant aimed to support the efforts of the Government of Colombia to ensure environmental sustainability by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of SINA through the strengthening of 33 regional environmental agencies (CARs) as well as the urban environmental agencies (AAUs), and enhancing water resources and air quality management by the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development (MAVDT), both at the national and at the regional levels.


The grant has helped achieve greater transparency in the reporting of environmental information, programs and sustainability indicators by the 33 regional environmental agencies and urban environmental agencies through a stronger the Government-On-Line strategy and technical assistance to the environmental authorities for the implementation of this strategy.  

Key results include:

  • A vehicle emission study contributed to the establishment of a new regulation “Resolution 1111 of 2013” which changed the permissible levels of pollutant emissions for vehicles. The resolution also recommended the National Institute for Hydrology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM) to oversee and authorize the Centros de Diagnóstico Automotriz (Centers for Automotive Diagnostics, CDA) in order to enhance technology and transparency. The information generated by this study led to campaigns by the local government of Medellín and Bogotá to monitor CDAs and ensure the enforcement of the new standards. 
  • An assessment was completed October 30, 2013 that will help the government create a strategy for the creation of a vehicle health check (VHC) in Colombia. The study includes legal, technical, economic and financial recommendations. 
  • A cost-benefit study was completed for the updating of emission standards for diesel vehicles (University of Los Andes). The recommendations of this study were included in Resolution 1111 of 2013 which introduced Euro IV technologies in the country. 
  • Another study is proposed to develop a clear strategy and vision for the development of a top-notch Environmental Quality Laboratory (EQL) and is to begin in January 2014 to be completed by June 15, 2014.  

Bank Group Contribution

This work was financed through a US$750,000 grant through the Spanish Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean (SFLAC) and administered by the World Bank.


Key partners were the regional environmental agencies (CARs), urban environmental agencies (AAUs), in addition to the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development (MAVDT).

Moving Forward 

This grant is an important component of an ongoing relationship between the World Bank and the Government of Colombia to strengthen environmental management and sustainable growth. The grant supports the analytical components of actions supported by an ongoing portfolio of loans in Colombia and fosters the strengthening of key regional authorities instrumental for the successful implementation of measures supported by the portfolio. 


The citizens of Colombia have benefited from revised/improved environmental policies and from greater transparency in the reporting of environmental information, programs and sustainability indicators at the regional and central levels.  Furthermore, since this grant has helped establish linkages between the four key areas of Colombia’s Air Quality Reform, the urban population is indirect beneficiaries of improved air quality.