Colombia is made up of six natural regions that are each defined by their own unique characteristics, including: the Andes mountain range region shared with Ecuador and Venezuela; the Pacific coastal region shared with Panama and Ecuador; the Caribbean coastal region shared with Venezuela and Panama; the Llanos (plains) shared with Venezuela; the Amazon Rainforest region shared with Venezuela, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador; and the area comprising islands in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Colombia is at high risk from climate change impacts. The climate scenarios presented in Colombia's Third National Communication on Climate Change predict an increase in averages temperature of 2° to 4° C by 2070, along with changed hydrological conditions (for example, certain regions may see their rainfall reduced by up to 30%). The majority of the population lives in the elevated Andes, where water shortages and land instability are already a reality, and on the coast, where increases in sea levels and floods will likely affect human settlements and economic activities. In addition, the country has experienced an increasing number of climate-related emergencies in recent years.

Colombia has made strides in the attainment of the millenium development goals. However, these achievements are still fragile and the country is burdened by social conflicts, regional inequalities and social gaps. A high percentage of the population may suffer serious setbacks due to climate change. The impacts of climate change will affect the quality of life of all Colombians, but will especially affect those living in rural areas. A good portion of the agro-ecosystems of the country is vulnerable to increased aridity, soil erosion, desertification, and changes in the hydrological system. In addition, there is a greater risk of crop flooding as well as other natural events that affect agricultural production (windstorms, hailstorms, etc.). As a result of these stresses, climate change may accelerate internal displacements and migrations. This, in turn, is likely to create additional stresses on the fight against poverty, which is likely to increase the vulnerability of marginal and excluded populations.

In Colombia, there has been an increasing focus on adaptation to climate change in recent years, due to both the global negotiation process and greater national awareness. Colombia has been developing important capacities to face the challenges of climate change both within the framework of its national communications and in the support for actions that foster adaptation and mitigation to climate change. The country is implementing concrete adaptation measures in priority regions, such as the islands of the Caribbean and the Colombian Mountain Range, and in essential sectors such as agriculture and water resource management.

Based on these efforts, Colombia is at an appropriate juncture to apply a programmatic focus that would include climate change considerations in sectoral policies and thus align any climate change adaptation activity with the country's development trajectory and agenda.

Extracted from UNDP. 2010. Mainstreaming Climate Change in Colombia Screening for risks and opportunity. Bogotá (Colombia)