PRESS RELEASE

Colombia-UNODC sign historic agreement to lead the way in tackling country's coca cultivation

Vienna, 3 November 2017 - "This historic agreement is a unique opportunity to turn the tide against Colombia's coca cultivation and help farmers embrace alternative development," Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Yury Fedotov said today.

Mr. Fedotov was speaking in Vienna after announcing a new project, valued up to US$315 million, between UNODC and Colombia, designed to monitor the country's policy to reduce illicit crops and to strengthen rural development, as a crucial part of the country's ongoing peace-building efforts.

"I warmly congratulate the Colombian government not just for its ceaseless efforts to find peace, but also for its recognition that the pursuit of peace requires tangible solutions to the crimes that fuel and feed conflict," said Mr. Fedotov.

Mr. Fedotov reaffirmed UNODC's full support for the implementation of the peace process, particularly under Chapter 4: Solving the problem of illicit drugs.

For his part, the High Presidential Commissioner on Post Conflict of Colombia, Rafael Pardo Rueda, said: "Today we come to Vienna, a few days before commemorating the first year of peace in Colombia, with a message of hope: we are working on the construction of opportunities. Pursuing a solution to the problem of illicit drugs begins with tackling criminal organizations, launching sustainable and inclusive programs, and seeking alternatives for the application of a differentiated approach within the criminal justice system."

The High Commissioner highlighted the expertise of UNODC in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the illicit crops reduction policy, as well as the broad experience on territorial interventions through alternative development programs. He stressed that the cooperation project is a new chapter in the history of the strategic alliance between UNODC and Colombia.

UNODC has been a strong and committed supporter of Colombia's activities to encourage local communities to give up voluntarily coca cultivation. The new project enhances this support and is based on UNODC's decades old experience of working with farming communities across the world. 

Alternative Development - the process of encouraging farmers to cultivate licit crops such as cacao, spices and coffee - is a fundamental pillar of international drug control strategy. UNODC has been implementing such programmes for over 30 years.  

Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2016, UNODC has emphasized how alternative development can improve the livelihoods and well-being of people and help achieve the sustainable development goals.

UNODC currently supports alternative development programmes in six countries: Afghanistan, Bolivia, Colombia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, and Peru. In Colombia, 65 per cent of UNODC's work is related to Alternative Development.

Cocaine was one of the main financing sources of the conflict in Colombia. UNODC's recent Colombian coca survey found that 146,000 hectares of farming land cultivated coca. 

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Background Note:

Project COLW40: Implementation and monitoring of the illicit crops reduction public policy and integral strengthening of prioritized territories by the Government of Colombia within the framework of the implementation of the Peace Agreement

The Government of Colombia and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will sign a 4-year cooperation project to support the voluntary substitution of illicit crops within the framework for the implementation of chapters 1 and 4 of the Peace Agreement: "Towards a New Colombian Countryside: Integral Rural Reform" and "Solving the Problem of Illicit Drugs".

The project operates as a platform between the Ministry for the Post-conflict, the National Land Agency, the Rural Development Agency, the Territorial Renewal Agency and the Office for the Substitution of Illicit Crops. The purpose is to move forward in peace building through funded Alternative Development programmes with broad coverage that allow an effective intervention for the transformation of the territories prioritized by the Colombian government. Alternative Development promotes long-term sustainability and worthy incomes for farmers to avoid replanting illict crops. It is a comprehensive process that requires time to mature, and which protects the territory and the community from new cycles of illegality.

The project actions are grouped into four components:

1. Implementation of the strategy for illicit crops reduction.

2. Implementation of the strategy for integrated rural development and implementation of programmes with territorial approach.

3. Implementation of the strategy on rural property formalization.

4. Operation of the integrated monitoring system to the implementation of rural development programmes with territorial approach and alternative development.

For further information and interview requests, please contact:

Monica Leon
Communications Coordinator, UNODC Colombia 
Telephone: (+57-1) 6467000 ext. 367
Mobile: (+57) 3204290730
Email: monica.leon[at]unodc.org

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