A single word can define the last five years of Colombia’s energy sector: change. The country suffered the negative effects of the oil and gas price drop, new legal conditions to promote renewable energy development were approved, local communities put forward referendums to approve or protest projects in their territories and a new structural tax reform was put in place.
Colombia still considers hydrocarbons as a strategic resource for its economy. As the quest to find new resources continues, exploration and production activities have extended to territories that have been historically considered as vulnerable due to the socioeconomic and cultural characteristics of their populations.
The country’s new exploration priorities focus on off-shore projects in territories like La Guajira and on-shore development near protected ecosystems, where Indigenous Peoples and other minority groups are often in the direct area of influence of new oil and gas development. There is an increasing overlap between Indigenous People’s territories, biodiversity hotspots and hydrocarbon development blocks.
In Colombia, the National Hydrocarbon Agency (ANH) has been a regional pioneer in implementing international best-practices to strengthen its social and environmental management through the implementation of the EO100TM Standard into its core processes and external monitoring mechanisms.
Since 2015, Equitable Origin (EO) and the ANH have partnered to integrate the EO100TM Standard into the regulator’s management systems, focusing on Human Rights protection and social conflict mitigation. Using the EO100TM Standard as a guiding framework, the ANH is currently implementing a plan to strengthen Human Rights protections by adapting its policies, procedures and tools to meet international best practices on social management, stakeholder engagement, Human Rights impact assessments and transparency.
Specific outcomes include the ANH’s Human Rights policy, conflict-risk assessment tools, Human Rights oriented complaints and appeals processes, impact evaluation tools for social investment programs; and the inclusion of new social management indicators across the core functional areas of the agency.
EO and the ANH have established priority activities to be implemented in the short term in coordination with national authorities, private developers, investors, communities, international organizations and civil society. Both organizations are committed to continue their work to promote best practices in identifying, addressing and mitigating the Human Rights impacts of Colombia's oil and gas sector.