Colombia's contribution to the global demand for sustainable products

Sustainable agriculture, Upskilling and Reskilling
In the period 2021-2024 of the Colombia + Competitiva programme, priority is given to sustainability and inclusion in the value chains of speciality coffees, speciality cocoa, sustainable tourism and natural ingredients to improve competitiveness and access to international markets. 

Around 23 departments in the country will benefit through 15 projects in the 4 value chains to improve the income of the beneficiaries and the quality of their products and services, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and implement good sustainability practices, among other impacts.

Since 2017, the Colombia + Competitiva programme, funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), in coordination with the National Government, and facilitated by Swisscontact, has been working to strengthen value chains that provide employment and income opportunities for Colombians. 

The Colombia más Competitiva (C+C) programme announced funding of 5 million Swiss francs to foster competitiveness and sustainability through 15 jointly structured projects.

15 projects selected to promote inclusive and green growth

The announcement was made during a presentation of the results of the "Competitive fund for value chains: specialty coffees, specialty cocoa, sustainable tourism and natural ingredients" in Bogotá. Eric Mayoraz, Ambassador of Switzerland in Colombia, and María Ximena Lombana, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism attended the event.

In 2021, calls for proposals were launched to support the prioritised value chains. More than 200 innovative proposals were submitted. The most innovative 15 projects were selected to be supported to promote inclusive and green growth. green and competitive, sustainable and inclusive growth in the regions. 

"Colombia + Competitiva promotes green and inclusive growth through an enabling business environment and effective public sector policies on competitiveness and innovation, as well as through the development of value chains. To achieve improved competitiveness, it is essential to develop strategies aimed at inclusion and sustainability, as these are a de facto requirement for access to international markets."
Claudia Sepúlveda of Swisscontact and coordinator of the Colombia + Competitiva programme

According to Natalia Mayorga, deputy head of Economic Cooperation and Development (SECO), this fund supports the consolidation of value chains, where producers and entrepreneurs can improve their exportable supply for a market increasingly demanding sustainable and inclusive products and services. 

This entails, among other things, meeting international standards and certifications, improving infrastructure, services and products as well as the governance of local and national actors.

"The selected projects will benefit 23 departments of the country from La Guajira to Caquetá, involving the participation of producers, service providers, anchor companies, local governments, business development support entities, among others. In addition, through collaboration and governance mechanisms it will be possible to leverage the development of solid value chains at the local level, contributing to the positioning of Colombia as a spearhead in innovation, inclusion and sustainability. "
Mary Amalia Vásquez, Country Director Swisscontact in Colombia

María Ximena Lombana, Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, highlighted the strategic importance of the Colombia + Competitiva programme, which during its first years (2017-2020) allowed 1 121 people to improve their production techniques, and more than 325 small producer organisations to strengthen their businesses and contribute to the economic development of the country. For the following years (from 2021 to 2024), it is expected that entrepreneurs will increase their exports, reduce emissions of Greenhouse Gases and apply new sustainable practices that are focused on green growth.

Sustainable and inclusive specialty cocoa

The programme seeks sustainability over time through projects which not only involve diverse local actors but also have a market systems approach. That is why developing the skills of the people and organisations on site is crucial to expand the impact of the project and achieve systemic change.

Engineer Brian Bazin Bulla Tovar, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Ibagué, highlights the impact of the Cacao + Sustainable Development in Tolima project: "During the years 2019-20, a sustainable business model was established through the creation of the Riqueza Ancestral Cooperative, consisting of five associations from the north of the department. Their aim was to generate added value to the cocoa of Tolima and improve its quality. For the period 2022-24, the three chambers of Tolima: Ibagué, Honda and south and east have proposed to have certified cocoa, which allows access to international markets to position Tolima as a region that produces special sustainable and inclusive cocoa".

"The cocoa farmers of Tolima are moving towards cocoa as an alternative source of income generation."
Brian Bazin Bulla Tovar, president of the Chamber of Commerce of Ibagué

Discussion on sustainability and inclusion in value chains

To learn from partners about their strategies to boost competitiveness, prioritise sustainability and inclusion, two panels were held: "Sustainability and inclusion as drivers of competitiveness" and "The subnational impact of sustainable value chains".

The first panel was attended by Luis Enrique Dussán López, governor of Huila; Julián Domínguez, president of Confecámaras; Clara Parra, advisor for competitiveness and public-private management of the presidency of Colombia.

The panel "The subnational impact of sustainable value chains" was attended by some of the entrepreneurs, producers and traders who have benefited from the programme's value chain projects.

The competitive fund of the Colombia + Competitiva programme

With regard to speciality cocoa and coffee, the objective is to improve the exportable offer mainly by introducing sustainable production practices.

In the area of natural ingredients, Colombia + Competitiva promotes the sustainable use of the country's biodiversity potential both in view of sustainable tourism and through the development of innovative bioproducts that meet quality and safety standards. The programme supports best practices in destination management to promote responsible national and international tourism.

"Within the Colombia + Competitiva programme we prioritise value chains taking into account their potential for job creation, to boost sustainable growth and the added value that Switzerland can provide in their development."
Julien Robert, Director of Cooperation of the Swiss Embassy in Colombia - Economic Cooperation and Development (SECO)
Entrepreneurial ecosystems, Sustainable tourism
Colombia + Competitiva - Strengthening the Competitiveness of the Private Sector
The Programme aims to support Colombia in its systematic efforts to improve the competitiveness of its private sector in the framework of the National System of Competitiveness, Science, Technology and Innovation and its Productive Development Policy.
"Colombia + Competitiva" follows a programmatic and systemic approach with clear ownership of the...