A one-hundred-year commitment to conservation and childhood in Colombia

Fondo Acción was created in 2000 as a financial facilitation mechanism and became the administrator for the first debt-for-nature agreement signed between the U.S. and Colombian governments.

This agreement was first theorized in 1990 when U.S. President George Bush indicated the importance of bolstering environmental policies in the hemisphere and raised the possibility of creating such a model that would be administered by environmental funds in Latin America and the Caribbean.

As a result of this initiative, the U.S. and Colombian governments signed a bilateral agreement that established the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, which would provide resources to the promotion of activities that preserve, protect, or manage Colombia’s natural and biological resources in a sustainable and ecologically viable manner. At the same time, the agreement would also promote child development and survival within what the agreement called “a vision for sustainable development based on the idea that both are critical elements in forging an economically sound ecological future for the countries of the Western Hemisphere, recognizing that children are the greatest resource, represent the future, and deserve a solid base of natural resources for a quality life and protection from the health threat of preventable environmental degradation and pollution.” Fondo Acción was created in 2000 to administer this mechanism.

During 20 years of joint work, the U.S. government has facilitated the investment of more than 60 million dollars through various initiatives and projects in every region of the country, and has promoted actions of conservation, protection, and development for the children of Colombia, thereby fulfilling its commitment to the environment and the children of the country.

Protecting Colombia’s Tropical Forests

In 2004, the U.S. and Colombian governments signed a new debt-for-nature agreement that seeks to conserve, protect, restore, and promote the sustainable use of tropical forests in Colombia by supporting civil society initiatives with the direct participation of local communities.

The Tropical Forest Conservation Act in Colombia (TFCA) is administered by Fondo Acción and supported by three NGOs: World WildLife Fund (WWF), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and Conservation International (CI).

The 10-million-dollar investment has enabled work in three strategic forestry areas of the country: Vichada, Arauca, Casanare, Santander, and Boyacá, comprising an area of more than 900,000 hectares and producing more than 900 conservation agreements.

Commitment to the children of Colombia

The U.S. government and Fondo Acción have also supported the children of Colombia and, in 2006, together with the International Center of Education and Human Development Foundation (CINDE) and Martha Arango, a Colombian researcher studying early childhood issues, established the Glen Nimnicht Scholarship Fund. This fund is the country’s first endowment dedicated exclusively to training in early childhood care and has awarded more than 390 scholarships to date for those training in the education of children under 6 years of age. Likewise, more than 8,000 children and adolescents have benefited from investments in education, caregiver and teacher training, space improvements, and infrastructure for their development.

Protecting Colombia’s marine jewel

Thanks to contributions from the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative, the Malpelo Heritage Fund was created in 2008 and, with additional contributions from Conservation International’s Global Conservation Fund, it has become a benchmark for sustainable financing for the conservation of protected areas in Colombia.

The conservation of Malpelo Island, led by the National Natural Parks of Colombia and in association with the Malpelo Foundation, has allowed for the protection of 2.8 million hectares of land and sea and endangered species such as groupers and sharks, and new animal species have been discovered thanks to scientific expeditions that allow for a better understanding and monitoring of its flora and fauna.

Throughout 11 years, this mechanism has provided more than 2 million dollars for the conservation of the sanctuary and has an endowment fund with yields that guarantee a significant annual financial contribution for the sanctuary’s management over the long-term.

The power of the people in Caquetá

The United States remains committed to the protection and management of Colombia’s natural resources, which is why it funded the Connected Landscapes Program (Programa Paisajes Conectados) in 2013 through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). With a grant from USAID through the then-regional Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon (ICAA) and the support of strategic allies, Fondo Acción became a direct implementer in the Amazon, one of the most biodiverse regions in the world and one with a long history of deforestation and armed conflict.

For 7 years, Fondo Acción has worked with 453 rural families, the Amazon Conservation Team, and the Government of Caquetá, in supporting the conservation of their territory through sustainable practices, strengthening their leadership, inspiring children, and creating tools that would allow them to have an impact on their local territory.

Protecting one of the most biodiverse areas of the world

In 2013, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through the development of REDD+ projects, continued its efforts in the conservation of the Chocó Biogeographic Region’s forests and biodiversity along the Colombian Pacific. To that end, it joined forces with Fondo Acción to design and implement instruments that would bring the components of REDD+ projects to fruition, working closely with 19 Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities in the region.

This alliance was bolstered by the creation of the Pacific Connected Landscapes Program in 2015, and Fondo Acción became the implementer of this REDD+ Portfolio, comprising nine projects that issued their first carbon credits in 2018. Thanks to these efforts, these communities have conserved over 700,000 hectares of forest, reduced deforestation by over 15 thousand hectares of mega-diverse forest, protected over 70 species, and reduced the emissions of 6,138,743 VCUs between 2013 and 2018.

With investments throughout the last 20 years, the U.S. government it has established itself as an ally of Fondo Acción and of Colombia for the sustainable development and care for nature in the country, contributing to the conservation of more than 4 million hectares of land and sea through various projects and contributing to the protection of and care for children in our country.

Article by Fondo Acción.