The Adaptation Action Coalition's (AAC) country profiles showcase members' efforts in domestic and international adaptation. They aim to highlight recent initiatives, policies, research and programs to share informative examples of how adaptation plans and commitments are being implemented around the world.

Colombia experiences high risks from climate change impacts. Melting of glaciers due to rising temperature and extreme rainfall are among the most prominent, affecting highland areas in the forms of ecosystem degradation, water scarcity, floods and landslides. Coastal zones are exposed to floods due to rising seas and storm surges. Severe water shortages from changes in rainfall patterns and droughts are heavily affecting productivity in the agricultural sector, a major source of food security and export revenue for Colombia. According to the World Bank Group projections, by 2050, climate change in Colombia will impact 14% of the GDP corresponding to agriculture, and that without adaptation, 80% of the country's crops could be impacted in more than 60% of their current areas of cultivation, especially high value perennial and export crops.
For Colombians, responding to climate change is a matter of survival, said Kristie Lopez from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS), who led the effort to update the most recent iteration of Colombia's adaptation communications. For many years already, the ministry has focused on including climate change and variability in its territorial and environmental planning.

How Colombia is Tackling Climate Adaptation

In 2020, Colombia submitted its ambitious enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), setting the bar high for other countries. Despite having lower resources and capacity allocated for the development of adaptation NDC development than that of mitigation, the adaptation component shows a clear increase in ambition from the previous NDC and puts forward a roadmap for adaptation with extensive sectoral engagement. It contains 30 adaptation goals in fields such as ecosystem conservation and protection, planning and implementation, information management and monitoring and evaluation.

According to Angela Rivera of the Department of Climate Change and Risk Management, for countries of the association of Latin America and the Caribbean (AILAC), NDCs are seen as the main mechanism to show political commitment and ambition to the international community. NDCs additionally highlight priorities and gaps in climate action, she says. In joining the collective strategy of AILAC countries, Colombia has integrated its adaptation communications into the adaptation component of its enhanced NDC to bring international visibility to its national adaptation efforts.

Fostering Synergies Between Instruments

There are several frameworks and processes that inform adaptation action in Colombia such as the NDC, NAP, SISCLIMA and National Development Plan. The National Climate Change Decree (SISCLIMA), for example, is a formal coordinating system that includes the public sector, private sector and civil society, and works through a collaborative and whole-of-government approach to tackle issues such as the pandemic and climate change. However, Colombia recognizes the importance of clarifying distinct functions of each mechanism. For example, whereas the adaptation NDC focuses on current priorities and needs, the NAP outlines Colombia's broader long-term vision for resilience, thereby acting as the core of Colombia's adaptation strategy.

Furthermore, MADS is currently in the process of establishing best practices and guidance documents to identify and leverage synergies between various instruments in the larger national adaptation governance architecture in order to ensure they are aligned and complementary rather than duplicative. For example, adaptation communications are aligned with various domestic instruments used to communicate, report and plan adaptation actions in Colombia, such as their NDC and NAP.

One common challenge, however, is monitoring and evaluation. In line with the Global Stocktake, Colombia has already been working on addressing this problem through its national information system on climate change and is expected to demonstrate progress in the coming years.

Colombia Leads on Nature-Based Solutions and Flood Insurance Programs

Ecosystems-based adaptation, particularly in the agricultural sector, has been a focus of public subnational and local planning. This tactic can help combat serious socioeconomic damages posed by climate change while increasing the resilience of vulnerable farmer communities. In MedellĂ­n, Colombia's second-largest city, the Green Corridors project demonstrates the effectiveness of expanding urban forests and green infrastructure, as nature-based solutions, in cities to adapt to rising temperatures and heat waves. Since 2018, the city has seen a 2 degrees c (3.6 degrees F) reduction in ambient air temperature.

In recent years, the private sector has increasingly catalyzed groundbreaking innovation in climate adaptation. Cloud to Street (C2S), a climate adaptation technology company, will roll out the worlds first at-scale parametric flood insurance program, in partnership with parametric insurance platform Raincoat and Munich Re Group. This country-level flood program, powered by C2S's cutting-edge flood intelligence, will provide local payouts with coverage to smallholder farmers across Colombia.

As a steering committee member, Colombia is committed to supporting the Adaptation Action Coalition in helping countries implement action on the ground, in alignment with the global adaptation agenda. The country representatives believe the focus should be on topics that advance the Global Goal on Adaptation by overcoming common challenges in implementation and transmitting knowledge on scalable solutions between countries.