Bogota 12 May 2021 – In the framework of the Capstone Fair project of the University of Michigan, urban planning and architecture students and professors recently did an assessment of Colombia’s national legal and policy frameworks in relation to urban and climate planning.

This was done  in collaboration with UN-Habitat and in consultation with Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and Ministry of Housing, City and Territory. The study was carried out through the use of the Law and Climate Change Toolkit, an online and open database grading system developed by a partnership among UNFCC, UNEP, and the Commonwealth Secretariat, with the aim to provide a global resource to assist countries in building the necessary legal frameworks for effective domestic implementation of the Paris Agreement and their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The assessment is also being conducted at the local level in the city of Manizales, supporting the Alcaldía de Manizales in mainstreaming biodiversity and climate change into its territorial planning.

This process took place  against the background of the Latin America and Caribbean Climate Change Week (LACCW 2021) which  is accelerating collaboration and integrating climate action into global pandemic recovery. Building back opens an opportunity to address social inequalities and invest in economic development that is good for humanity and nature.

The findings of the legal and policy review clearly underline that Colombia’s highest priorities as:

  • Reducing GHGs through urban planning and form,
  • Making use of green spaces for climate services,
  • Ensuring that development approval processes are related to climate mitigation,
  • Prioritising, as well as incentivizing, strategy development for planned areas that are vulnerable to climate change.

Through final reports that will be publicly available, the assessment will provide key inputs, such as recommendations for legal adjustments and best practices, to strengthen urban and climate planning policy and legal frameworks at the national, regional and local level and improve their responsiveness to climate change, enhancing Colombian cities’ resilience and sustainability and allowing the country to better align with its International commitments to climate mitigation and adaptation and implement its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

This project has been possible in the framework of a multi-year project that aims at accelerating climate action through the promotion of Urban Low Emission Development Strategies, or Urban-LEDs, whose second phase of implementation (2017-2021) is carried out by UN-Habitat in partnership with ICLEI and funded by the European Commission. In Colombia, Urban-LEDs has been supporting several cities in developing low carbon development strategies and GHG emissions, integrating climate change action plans, and implementing demonstration projects for low carbon development solutions. Progresses at the national level include:

- comprehensive analysis and recommendations of the priority climate change aspects to address in the New Urban Strategy (Ciudades 4.0), and

- key policy instruments essential for achieving the ambitious climate change agenda established by Colombia in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and its long-term carbon neutrality strategy E2050.

Ana Paula Pimentel Walker, Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Michigan said: “This collaboration compelled students to think holistically about cities and climate change, from international commitments to the national and subnational levels. The application of the Law and Climate   Change Toolkit highlighted the need for urban legislation that enforces low emissions urban development, while safeguarding the well-being of vulnerable communities”.

Edward Alfonso Buitrago Torres, Adviser of the Deputy Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia said: The urban legislation we design and implement must prioritise the promotion of climate actions aimed at reducing GHG emissions and communities’ vulnerability to natural disasters. This is what we are doing in Colombian cities by focusing urban projects around the “Biodiverciudades” initiative, whose implementation in Manizales will benefit from the added value provided by the assessment that UN-Habitat and the University of Michigan are conducting through the Law and Climate Change Toolkit.”