Colombia President Iván Duque signed today at the Casa de Nariño a $245 million USD agreement to help Colombia increase protection of its magnificent natural wealth and move closer to protecting 30 percent of the country’s land and sea by 2030. The agreement, signed by Colombia and a coalition public and private partners, creates a financial mechanism to support a substantial part of the national system of protected areas of Colombia, more than 30 million hectares of highly biodiverse areas.

Said Catalina Gutiérrez, Director of WCS Colombia: “WCS Colombia is proud to have been a part of a five-year effort leading to the signing today of the historic Herencia Colombia initiative. This initiative, also known as HECO, will help protect iconic landscapes and seascapes for people and nature. We applaud the Colombian Government and all the public and private partners who have made HECO a reality, helping to ensure that Colombia protects its natural and cultural heritage for generations to come.”

Partners to this effort include: Government of Colombia, National Natural Parks of Colombia, Andes Amazon Fund, Bezos Earth Fund, Conservation International, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Patrimonio Natural, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund US, World Wildlife Fund Colombia and the World Bank.

In its first phase, scheduled to last 10 years, the initiative will support the creation of over 2 million hectares of new terrestrial and around at least 15 million hectares of new marine protected areas in the Central Andes of Colombia, the San Lucas Mountains, the Central Andes, the Amazon-Orinoco Transition and the Caribbean and Pacific oceans. This initiative builds on decades of efforts by the Colombian Government to strengthen the National System of Protected Areas, an endeavor WCS Colombia has been supporting for more than 30 years.

Padu Franco, Director of the WCS Andes, Amazonia, Orinoquia Program said: “Herencia Colombia will help ensure large-scale and long-term conservation in Colombia in partnership with Indigenous communities and public and private stakeholders. These efforts are vital as we fight the climate, biodiversity and zoonotic health crises. Only by joining forces can we develop initiatives and mechanisms that have the scale required to tackle the drivers of these interlinked crises. We congratulate the Colombian Government and are proud to join all other partners in supporting the creation of Herencia Colombia.”

The Herencia Colombia Program will ensure long-term financial sustainability for protected ecosystems while protecting the rights of Indigenous and local communities.