President Juan Manuel Santos yesterday hailed his country’s peace deal
with the Farc guerrilla group as a chance to preserve his country’s
biodiversity after decades of violence.
“We need to reconcile also with the environment, which was a big victim of the armed conflict,” Santos said after receiving an international environmental award from the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in London.
“The number of barrels of oil that we’ve spilled in our rivers, in our seas, was the equivalent of 14 times the Exxon Valdez. And that was a huge environmental disaster,” he said, referring to the 1989 oil spill in Alaska.
The peace accord signed with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) in November 2016 ended the 53-year conflict.
In addition to the human cost of the violence, which left 260,000 people dead and more than 60,000 missing, it also had serious consequences for the environment.
The country has suffered illegal mining and attacks on oil pipelines as well as the felling of forests for drug trafficking.
Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his efforts to end his country’s conflict, but he said his work was not finished.
“We think that Colombia’s future is very much dependent on how we protect our biodiversity,” he said. Santos was joined in London by his Environment Minister, Luis Gilberto Murillo, who said the implementation of the peace deal had enabled researchers to reach areas of the rainforest previously off limits.
“The peace creates the right conditions for better protecting the environment, particularly in areas where we had our conflict before,” he said.
But he cautioned that pockets of violence, notably due to drug trafficking, continue to hamper the government’s environmental ambitions.
Although the peace accord has brought greater access to the rainforest, Kew Science researcher Mauricio Diazgranados warned that it had also led to rapid development.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Magnitude 7.9 quake off Alaska prompts tsunami warning
Hollywood set for Oscar noms in the year of #MeToo
Democrats set to vote to reopen US government
Highway 101 reopened as death toll from mudslides climbs to 21
Amazon to open first cashierless shop to public on Monday
Protesters flock to women’s marches against Trump
Hondurans block roads in election result protest
'The Shape of Water' wins PGA best film ahead of Oscars
US lawmakers in bid to end shutdown stalemate