Nature and biodiversity are the first victims of a peace agreement, especially in the first two years following the end to armed conflict. That is why there is an ecological imperative and urgency in Colombia to work on the linkages between peace and environment¨. This compelling call to action was made by Wendy Arenas, the Advisor to the Presidential High Council for Post-Conflict, during the dialogue workshop held in Medellin in the margin of the sixth session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES6), to launch Colombia´s first ever National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA). A full house of around 120 people gathered to engage in a dynamic TV talk-show type dialogue between the group of experts for the assessment and a panel that included Wendy Arenas, Jose Manuel Sandoval, the Director for Green Growth in the National Planning Department, Angela Andrade, the Chair of IUCN´s Ecosystem Management commission and Claudia Martinez, Board member of the Green Climate Fund.
Left to right : Angela Andrade, Wendy Arenas, Pippa Heylings, Claudia Martinez, Jose Manuel Sandovar
This dialogue workshop on Colombian Biodiversity: From Knowledge to Decision-Making was, in essence, a mini Trialogue co-organized by the Humboldt Institute and the Regional Authority of Corantioquia in collaboration with the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, with the support of BES-Net. Rosario Gomez is the National Coordinator of the NEA process and welcomed the innovative methodology of the BES-Net Trialogues to open up dialogue with key political stakeholders and find ways for the Ecosystem Assessment to contribute to Colombia´s overarching policies of Peace and Green Growth. The dialogue workshop was designed and facilitated by Pippa Heylings, the BES-Net Global Facilitator for the Trialogues. This event was a joint effort and extremely successful in engaging key policymakers in ways that can promote policy uptake of assessment findings. This highlights the importance of timing of the Trialogue methodology. Trialogues can (and should) be held at different strategic moments of an ecosystem assessment process - not only at the end of the process once the final assessment report is ready. In April, Pippa will be working with the Colombian National Assessment team to plan the full Trialogue event, building on the momentum generated by this initial event. Meanwhile, the BES-Net team continues to work with UNEP-WCMC and the other three NEA teams in Cameroon, Ethiopia and Vietnam, to identify the strategic moments and opportunities for their Trialogues to help overcome the science-policy-practice divide.