Colombia

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EIA profile

Updated to: 25 February 2015

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EIA background

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Country contact on EIA

Contact details for the country contact on EIA.

Ministry of Environment and Sustainable development
Calle 37 No. 8-40
Bogotá D.C
Tel: (0057)-1- 3323434 / 3323400
Website: www.minambiente.gov.co

History of EIA

Brief description of the history of the EIA system in the country, including when it was introduced and any major milestones in its development.

In 1973 the legal system of Colombia incorporated the first environmental law; the Law No. 23. The President then issued Decree-Law 2811 of 1974, known as the National Natural Resources Code. The Code introduced the conservation of natural resources and the environment. It already required environmental impact assessments through its Articles 28 and 29. It provided for a declaration of environmental effect but left decisions to the discretion of the environmental authority.

With the issuing of the Environment Law (Law 99) of 1993, the process to obtain an environmental licence was defined and related responsibilities determined. The law 99 established the creation of the Ministry of the Environment (now Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development). The issue of “Sustainable development”, launched at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, was essential for the issuing of the Law 99.
Since 1993, it is required to elaborate an EIA prior to the execution of any investments that affect the environment. The Ministry of the Environment and the regional environmental authorities make decisions concerning environmental licensing.

Thereafter, several EIA regulations have been issued to optimize the environmental licensing scheme. Decrees of the years 1994, 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2010 altered the scope of application of the EIA procedures and regulated the functions of the environmental authorities.

Year of introduction of EIA legislation

NB: this field is only meant for the world map. It is a hidden cell that is not published on the website. If available, mention the year when detailed national EIA regulations were issued. If such regulations do not exist and if EIA practice is base

1994

Legal framework for EIA

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Year of introduction of enabling law

Year when the enabling law for EIA was issued

Decree-Law 2811 of 1974: National Natural Resources Code

1994

Approving authority of enabling law

Authority that approved the enabling law for EIA.

The Code was issued by the President.

Year of introduction of first national detailed regulation for EIA

Year when when the first national detailed regulation (procedural requirements) through which EIA was operationalized.

The Decree 1753 of 1994 regulated the environmental licenses and specified the procedures to be followed.

1994

Recent updates and additions to the EIA legislation

Revisions of the EIA provisions in the enabling law or the national detailed EIA regulation (procedural requirements) are named. The year is listed, and the main changes since the first regulation are mentioned, if available. Also, additional EIA-re

In 1993, the Environmental Law No. 99 was approved by the National Congress. The Law made provisions regarding the management of environmental conservation and renewable natural resources by the public sector. It defined the process to obtain an environmental licence and related responsibilities. The law further created the Ministry of the Environment (now the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development).

The decree on environmental licensing regulations from 1994 has been amended by several other ones. Decree 1728 of 2002 re-established the EIA process and focused on environmental licensing on land use planning. It was repealed by Decree 1180 of 2003. In 2005, Decree 1220 was issued focusing on economic, environmental and territorial criteria. In 2010, this Decree was amended through Decree 2820. Also, the general methodology for the presentation of environmental studies was adopted in 2010. This provides a tool with a legal base that unifies and classifies the environmental studies.

The following other regulations are also of relevance:

  • The Decree No. 1320 approved in 1998 regulates the consultation in the case of projects that are developed within territories of black and indigenous populations
  • The Decree No. 330 approved in 2007 regulates public hearings in the process of obtaining environmental licenses.
  • The Resolution No. 1503 approved in 2010 establishes the general methodology for the presentation of environmental studies. The methodology is applied to studies such as the environmental impact assessment of alternatives and the environmental management plan.
  • Decree 3573 established the National Environmental Licencing Authority (ANLA) in 2011.

Sector specific procedures or regulations on EIA

Any existing sectoral procedural or content regulations are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each.

The Mining Law No. 1382 approved in 2010 (amended Law 685 2001) establishes that an environmental license for mining activities is compulsory in accordance with the Environmental Law (Law 99) and its regulations.

Specific regulations for EIA for mining activities were formulated by Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development (now the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development):

  • Terms of Reference for EIA of mining explotation (2010)
  • Terms of Reference for EIA open pit gold mining (2010)

The Ministry of Interior and Justice plays a role in the Civil Participation in the process of EIA.

Guidelines

Any government issued guidelines on EIA (general, or sectoral) are listed here, as well as the authority that issued each. Describe the legal status of the guidelines.

  • ”Guidelines for environmental impact assessment studies, criteria and procedures” (2002) prepared by the Andres Bello Convention, commissioned by the Bureau of Environmental licenses of the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development (now the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development).
  • ”Guidelines for Civil Participation” elaborated by the Office of the Inspector General (Procuraduría General de la Nacion), 2007.
  • The National Oil Agency developed guidelines on the participation of indigenous and black communities in the EIA process in 2008: ”Manual on the management for exploration and production of hydrocarbons in socially sensitive areas, communities, and environmental vulnerable areas”.
  • General methodology for the presentation of environmental studies (2010) developed by MAVDT (now the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development)

Objective of EIA

The objective of EIA as stated in the above described legal basis.

Environmental impact assessment studies are the basic tool for decision-making regarding projects, works and activities that significantly affect the environment (article 11 of Law 99).

Scope of EIA application

Describes which types of activities require EIA (public and/or private activities; national and/or foreign initiated project; or all such projects)

The EIA applies to all public and private works, activities and projects mentioned in decree No. 2820 2010. EIA is required prior to the investments.

Exemptions from EIA application

Describes any (groups of) activities identified in the regulation that are exempted from the requirement to do EIA (e.g. military or emergency activities).

Law 99 of 1993 established exclusive powers for the Ministry of the Environment in relation to activities that are considered to be of national public interest and that have a bearing on key sectors in the economic development of the country. It remains unclear if this means that the Ministry can exempt an activity from the EIA process though, as the Decree 2820 does not specify criteria or projects/activities for exemption of EIA.

Institutional setting for EIA

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Central EIA authority

Is there a central authority in charge of implementing EIA? Is it independent or linked to a higher body (e.g ministry)? What are its tasks related to EIA?

The National Environmental authority is the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development. The Ministry had been renamed several times. Art. 6 of Law 99, created the initial Ministry of the Environment in 1993. The Ministry of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development (MAVDT) followed which was split up in 2011. Since then the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development is the central EIA authority. 
Decree 2820 - 2010 regulates the functions of the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development (now the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development). The Ministry delegates its attributions and functions on environmental management, natural resources conservation and management of national parks to the Vice-Ministry of Environment. 

In 2011, the National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA) was established through Decree 3573  Article 2. The Authority is part of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. It is responsible for the environmental licensing and permitting process for the projects, works or activities to comply with environmental regulations, so as to contribute to environmentally sustainable development of the country.

Other key (governmental) parties involved in EIA, and their roles

Lists other key parties (e.g. a review commission, knowledge institute) that have a role in many or all EIAs.

The Ministry of Mining and Energy regulates the mining, energy, oil and gas activities. The Legal Framework of Mining (Law No. 685 of 2001 reformed by Law No. 1382 of 2010) establishes environmental license obligations prior to mining activities according to Law 99 and its decrees.
The Ministry of Interior and Justice plays a role in civil participation.
 

(De)centralisation of EIA mandates

Describes if EIA mandates are (de)centralised. Vertical decentralization refers to the extent to which the responsibility for EIA processes are delegated by the central government to the provincial or local authorities. Sectoral or horizontal decen

Regional and local environmental authorities are:

  • The Regional Autonomous Corporations (CAR) and Corporations of Sustainable Development. The regional environmental authorities can delegate their competencies to Territorial Entities, unless in the case of the realization of projects, works or activities undertaken by the same territorial entity. Territorial Entities must especially have technical, economic, administrative and operational capacity to exercise the delegated functions.

At district / city level the environmental authorities are:

  • Municipalities, districts and metropolitan areas whose urban population exceeds one million inhabitants of the urban area.
  • Environmental authorities of the districts Baranquilla, Santa Marta and Cartagena. The districts of Cartagena, Santa Marta and Barranquilla exercise the same functions delegated to the Regional Autonomous Corporations (Law 768 of 2002).

Decreto 2820 2010, Ley 768, 2002

EIA procedure

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Overview EIA procedure

Characterizes the overall EIA procedure. If relevant, interesting aspects of the EIA procedure are mentioned such as: which procedural steps are part of the EIA procedure? How are they linked to each other? Are there different levels of assessment di

The EIA process in Colombia consists of Screening, Scoping, Assessment, Review, a decision on the granting of an environmental license and Monitoring.

Main documents resulting from the EIA process are: Starting document (Screening), Terms of Reference (Scoping), Environmental Analysis of Alternatives document (if applicable), EIA report, and an Environmental License document.

Screening

Screening requirement and authority

Describes if a formal screening decision required, and if so, which authority is responsible for this decision. Is this decision published?

Screening is a required step of the EIA process. Environmental licensing is required only for projects, works and actvities as specified in article 8 (within the mandate of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development/ANLA) and 9 (within the mandate of the decentralised authorities, such as the Regional Autonomous Corporations) of the Decree 2820.

Screening process

Describes the screening process: steps in screening, the stakeholders involved and outcomes of the process, status of screening advice of different stakeholders, etc. Also describes any prescribed methods for screening. If preliminary EIA's / light EIA's / Initial Environmental Evaluations (IEE) are done in this country and which criteria determine whether a preliminary or a full EIA is requested

The proponent files a written request directly to the competent environmental authority if an environmental license is required. The request has to include a description, objective and scope of the project and its location. This information will determine if the project, work or activity requires the elaboration of an environmental diagnosis of alternatives.

Decree 2820 - 2010 regulates what activities, projects or works require environmental licences. Its Articles 8 and 9 provide an inclusive list of project organized in sectors. It is based on criteria of sensitivity of the area, on project criteria and on environmental parameters.

The regulation stipulates that if an analysis of alternatives is not required; only an environmental impact assessment study is required according to the Terms of Reference of the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development.

Provision for sensitive areas

Are specific requirements formulated for environmentally sensitive areas? (e.g. no minimum thresholds, full EIA instead of partial EIA)

Projects which affect the areas of national parks are the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.

When projects intervene in the wetlands included in the list of wetlands of international importance (RAMSAR) or highland moors and mangroves, the competent environmental authority must request prior approval of the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development (now the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development) (Article 10 of Decree 2820).

Projects, works or activities requiring removal of national forest reserves are responsibility of the Ministry.

The Mining Law (No. 1382 of 2010) stipulates in Article 34 that no mining activities are allowed in protected areas.

 

Contents of the starting document

Describes the required content of the starting document (if any) that the proponent should submit to the competent authority for EIA screening. Mentions if the starting document is published.

For the process of screening a report is required with the following content:
1. Unique environmental license sheet;
2. Maps of the location of the project, work or activity;
3. Description of the project, work or activity;
4. Estimated cost of investment and operation of the project;
6. Payment receipt for the environmental assessment;
7. Legal documents;
8. Certificate of the Ministry of the Interior and Justice on presence or not of ethnic communities in the area of influence of the project;
9. Certificate of INCODER on the existence or not of legally qualified territories with indigenous peoples or communal land titles of afrocolombian people in the area of influence of the project;
10. Copy of the filing of the request to the Preventive Archaeology Program of the Colombian Institute of Archaeology and History.

Those interested in mining /oil and gas projects must provide a copy of the mining/oil or gas exploration title and/or the concession contract issued and registered by the national mining registry or the oil and gas registry.

Timeline Screening

Maximum number of (working) days allowed between submission of the starting document and the screening decision.

Timeline is fifteen (15) working days. From filing of the request, the environmental authority shall take a decision of the need to submit an analysis of the alternatives, enclosing the terms of reference for elaboration of the analysis and/or EIA according to the case within 15 days.

Scoping

Scoping requirement

Is a formal scoping step required as part of the EIA process?

Scoping is mandatory in Colombia, specific requirements for it are provided legally.

Scoping process

Describes who carries main responsibility to undertake scoping and what the roles and responsibilities of the involved parties during the process are. Specifically, is there independent formulation and/or review of the scoping document, approval of the scoping document? Are any methods prescribed, e.g. participation, checklists. What guidance is provided?

The proponent should develop the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and/or environmental alternative diagnosis (DAA) considering the terms of reference formulated by the environmental authority. The Terms of Reference determine the intention, scope and content of the environmental study. The terms of reference should be based on the general methodology for the presentation of environmental studies established by resolution no. 1503 in 2010.

The Terms of Reference for the environmental impact assessment and the environmental diagnosis of alternatives is reviewed by the competent environmental authority. The competent authority can be the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Develoment (ANLA), the Regional Autonomous Corporation or Corporation of Sustainable Development or the District of major cities. The authority may adapt the terms of reference to the particularities of the project, work or activity.

Contents of the scoping document

Explains if there are there specific requirements for the content of the scoping document, and if so, what these are.

The contents of the scoping document should be based on the General Methodology for the Presentation of Environmental Studies (1503-2010)

Timeline scoping

Number of (working) days for the decision on approval of the scoping document by the competent authority.

15 days upon receipt of the request for an environmental license

Assessment and reporting

Assessment process

Steps and roles of stakeholders in the assessment and status of the input of the stakeholders. Also sets out methods for assessment of the environmental impacts of the activity, if prescribed, and whether the assessment covers environmental, social, economic and/or transboundary effects.

As part of the assessment process, the proponent can firstly be required to prepare an environmental analysis of alternatives, depending on the decision of the competent environmental authority. The competent environmental authority reviews the environmental analysis of the alternatives and decides on the alternatives for which the proponent should develop the environmental impact assessment. If no such an analysis is required, the proponent directly prepares the environmental impact assessment.

The proponent must elaborate the EIA in accordance with the general methodology for the presentation of environmental studies, developed by the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development (now the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development). The methodology describes the official sources of information, the methodology for the identification and assessment of environmental impacts.

The environmental impact assessment includes biological, physical and socio-economical impacts. Quantitative and qualitative assessment criteria that are used for it can be the following: area of influence, magnitude, duration, resilience, reversibility, periodicity, type and possibility of occurrence of impacts. Maximum permissible limits of pollutants as defined in the environmental legislation can be used to evaluate and rank impacts. Moreover, the risks of the construction and operation of the project should be taken as reference. Economic evaluation is another important tool used to assess impacts. It includes an economical evaluation of environmental impacts and the environmental cost benefit analysis.
 

Metodología General para la Presentación de Estudios Ambientales normado por la Resolución 1503 -2010

Contents of the EIA report

Explains what should be contained in the EIA report. Specifies if a potential Environmental Management Plan is part of the EIA report or if it is a separate document that contributes to the EIA process.

The general methodology for the presentation of environmental studies, developed by the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development (now the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development) gives the following indication about the content of the EIA report (see also article 21 of Decree 2820):

  1. Identification of the environmental impacts and the impact assessment is elaborated in the direct and indirect area of influence and consist the following elements:
    - Physical (geology, hydrology, quality of air, water and soil, water, climate, noise)
    - Biological (ecosystems, flora and fauna)
    - Socio-economical
    - Landscape
    - Archaeological
  2. Environmental management plan
  3. Zoning of environmental management measures
  4. Monitoring Program
  5. Contingency plan
  6. Abandonment and final restoration plan

Review

Review process

Overview of the review process, including: steps in the process and roles of the stakeholders, status of the input of the stakeholders. Is the process open to public? Review method: internal review, external review, panel/commission (permanent or temporary), are the review results documented? Are the review criteria general or case by case? Are the review results documented? Is a potential review

The review process starts with the proponent's request for an environmental licence. The environmental authorities shall take the general criteria defined in the manual of environmental impact  assessment elaborated by the MAVDT (2002), now Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, for the review of the environmental impact assessment study. More recently, the General Methodology for the Presentation of Environmental Studies (1503-2010) has been published. This document is used for the review process.

Timeline Review

Number of (working) days for review of the EIA by the competent authority.

After the presentation of the EIA by the proponent the competent environmental authority has 5 working days to start the review process. The competent environmental authority can request within 15 working days information from other authorities or entities. The required information should be submitted within 20 working days. If necessary additional documents or information are requested from the applicant. In this case the response time is suspended until the additional information is presented.

Decision-making

Integration of EIA into decision-making

Describes what kind of decision-making processes the EIA is intended to support. We look specifically at the decision on EIA approval, and how this relates to envirionmental approval for the project, and other project approval decisions (permits) needed before a project can proceed. This category describes which decisions are influenced by EIA and how they are linked to each other.

EIA is required in all cases where an environmental license is required. It thus results in the issuing or rejecting of an environmental license. Such a license is required for the approval of the project, work or activity and it must be obtained prior to its start.

Competent authority

Describes which authority/authorities is/are responsible for each of the main decision-making processes on EIA (EIA approval, environmental approval and/or project approval). It is explained if those decisions are taken by the same or different authorities.

Competent environmental authorities to grant or reject environmental license are as follows:

  • Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development and specifically the National Environmental Licensing Authority (ANLA) are responsible for the environmental licensing and permitting process at national level.
  • The regional environmental authorities and the regional corporations of sustainable development;
  • Municipalities, districts and metropolitan areas whose urban population is exceeding one million inhabitants in the urban area;
  • Environmental authorities of the districts Baranquilla, Santa Marta and Cartagena. The districts of Cartagena, Santa Marta and Barranquilla exercise the same functions as the regional autonomous environmental corporations ( Law no. 768 approved in  2002);
  • Territorial entities which are delegated by regional autonomous corporations and/or regional corporations of sustainable development, except for the realization of projects, works or activities undertaken by the same territorial entity. Territorial entities must have particularly technical, economic, administrative and operational capacity to serve as delegates.
     
Decision documents

Mentions if the decision (on EIA approval and/or environmental approval) is linked to certain documents (e.g. environmental management plan, permit conditions) in order to facilitate the management of environmental risks during project implementation. Also describes if commitments of the proponent are incorporated into legally binding instruments.

The environmental license is the decision document

Decision justification

Sets out requirements for justification of the consideration of the EIA information in decision-making (on EIA approval, environmental approval and/or project approval).

The environmental license should give a summary of environmental considerations and motivations that have been taken into consideration in the issueing of the license

Decision publication

Does the decision (on EIA approval, environmental approval and/or project approval) have to be published? Also, is the decision justification published as well?

The start of the license procedure should be published.

The Environmental Law (No. 99) establishes the obligation concerning the publication of the decision.
Decisions on environmental licenses are published in a bulletin (Gaceta Ambiental) of the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.

Timeline decision-making

Maximum number of (working) days available to the competent authority to make the EIA based decision (EIA approval, environmental clearance and/or project approval).

The competent environmental authority shall decide on the license of the project, work or activity, within a maximum period of twenty-five (25) working days.

Monitoring, Compliance and Enforcement

Compliance monitoring

Is compliance monitoring required to check if the project is implemented as described in the EIA documents and/or if mitigation of environmental impacts complies with applicable standards and other measures set out in the EIA documents? Who is responsible for ensuring compliance? How does this authority ensure compliance (for example, through inspections)? And what requirements are there for the p

The EIA includes the Monitoring and Supervision Program. The environmental authority that issued the environmental license is responsible for authorized projects, works and activities.

Payment system

Is the proponent required to pay a fee when applying for an EIA? Is this fee linked to a permitting fee, or separate? If yes, when is this paid and to whom (to the agency that issues the license or to a central agency)?

Environmental authorities may charge for evaluation and monitoring of the environmental license. This is regulated in the Law and its regulations. Costs of the above services are charged by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. Payments are made to a special sub-account of the National Environmental Fund (Fondo Nacional the Ambiente, FONAM) and will be used to cover the costs of evaluation and monitoring related to the costs of the Ministry for the provision of these services.

Public participation

Public participation requirements for EIA process stages

Describes for which of the EIA process stages public participation is required.

If the project, work or activity develops within territory of an indigenous community, a consultation is mandatory during the assessment process.

A public audience might be performed before the issuance of the administrative act which approves, rejects or modifies the environmental license, but always after the presentation of environmental impact assessment study to the environmental authority.

Public participation guidance

Has any guidance on participation been provided?

Public participation is an obligation to obtain an environmental license for oil and gas projects. The National Oil Agency developed a manual for exploration and production of oil and gas in socially sensitive areas. The manual describes a methodology for participation.

In 2007 the Office of the Inspector General prepared public participation guidelines.

Access to information

Which of the information that is generated in the EIA process is available to the public? Specifically, which reports and decision statements?

Any person may request information about the status of the environmental assessment of a project, work or activity subject to environmental license. The request can be directed to the competent environmental authority that is involved with the environmental assessment procedure.

Costs for public

Are there any specified costs public parties will incur if they partake in EIA?(e.g. costs for the receiving report, costs of losing an appeal, etc. Costs associated with travel to meetings or such are not included here)

Not specified

Public comments in decision-making

Do the EIA and/or project approval decisions have to be justified on the basis of public participation results? Do legal texts indicate how public participation results should be used and to which decision-making processses they should contribute?

Not specified

Legal recourse

Possibilities for appeal

What are the legal recourse options to challenge EIA decisions are provided for within the legal framework?

The applicant can appeal against the decision on the environmental license which is granted or rejected.  The appeal is filed with the same environmental authority that took the decision.

Decisions that can be appealed

Which EIA decisions can be appealed?

The applicant can appeal against the decision of the environmental license. 

Who can appeal

Who can make an appeal (in other words, has legal standing)?

The applicant, government agencies, individual citizens, public interest groups (NGOs) and private parties can make an appeal.

EIA practice

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Annual no. of EIAs

Gives an estimation for the number of full EIAs that are produced annually in this country.

In the period of 1994-1999 a total of 1536 EIAs were administered by the MAVDT (Directorate of Environmental Licenses and Permissions) (this does not include EIAs processed by the Regional Autonomous Corporations (CARs).

- www.iaia.org/ case study Colombia por I.Acosta http://www.iaia.org/publicdocuments/EIA/CaseStudies/ColombiaStudy.pdf

Central EIA database

Is there a central database or library where information on EIAs is kept (i.e. where all EIAs are registered and/or copies are archived). If so, what is kept there and is this information publicly accessible?

The central online environmental system ( VITAL) is a system that unifies all the administrative procedures of environmental management plans and environmental licenses at national level. Implementation of VITAL is in its initial stage.

The Minstry has a bulletin: “La Gaceta Ambiental”, which publishes the EIAs which are approved by the Ministry.

The Directorate of Environmental Licenses and Permissions, (depends on the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development), currently ANLA, administers a register of environmental licenses that are pending, granted or rejected.

 

www.minambiente.gov.co
VITAL is part of Environmental Information Sistem (SIAC) www.siac.gov.co

Practice reviews

Any EIA practice review studies that have been done (by governmental agencies or others) are listed here. Where relevant, links to studies are included, and the main conclusions of the studies are summarised.

Toro j., Requena I., Zamirano M., 2010. Environmental impact assessment in Colombia: Critical analysis and proposals for improvement in Environmental Impact Assesment Review no. 30 pag. 247-261, Elsevier.

Accreditation of consultants

Is there and accreditation system operational in the country to certify consultants to do EIAs?

There is no legislation on accreditation of consultants

EIA links

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Links to laws/regulation

Any relevant links to laws or regulations are included here.

Other relevant links on EIA

Any other relevant links (for example to country specific guidance documents) are included here.