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Updated to: 13 August 2013

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Distinguishing features of the EIA/SEA system

In Colombia the EIA procedure has its proper legislation. The environmental Law (no. 99, 1993) regulates the procedure for the elaboration of an EIA in order to obtain an environmental license prior to the implementation of projects, works and activities. For policies, plans and programs an SEA can be developed, but it is not required by law.

Administrative system: relevant features

Colombia is organized in the form of a unitary republic. The Colombian administration has three levels according to the Constitution of 1991: the national level, departments and municipalities (and one capital district, Bogotá).

The Congress has a bicameral parliament and consists of the Senate (102 seats in the national constituency) and the House of representatives (166 seats with regional constituencies). The President, the National Congress, departmental governors, departmental members, municipal councilors and municipal mayors are elected by popular vote for a period of four years.

The Colombian justice system consists of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Justice (last instance for civil, labour and criminal matters) and the Council of State (maximum administrative court). The Superior Council of Justice is responsible for the judicial administration.

Departments (there are 32) have governors and departmental assemblies and have administrative autonomy.

There are also Regional Environmental Authorities (“Corporaciones Autónomas Regionales”), which are: "public corporate bodies created by law, which are endowed with legal personality, own assets, management and financial autonomy. They are commissioned by law to manage the environment and renewable natural resources in the area of jurisdiction and promote its sustainable development. The territories are composed of either geographic ecosystems, geopolitical regions, bio-geographic units or river basins." (art. 23 of law 99, 1993). The Corporate Assembly is the main administrative body of the Regional Environmental Authority. It is formed by the Governor of the region, representatives of the President of the Republic, representatives of the Ministry of Environment, up to four mayors, two representatives from the private sector, a representative of indigenous people (or ethnicity) and two representatives of non-profit entities (art. 26 of the law 99). In addtion, there are also the Sustainable Development Corporations and 6 environmental authorities for big urban areas.

The 1120 local governments (municipal, district, or metropolitan) have a mayor and a municipal council.

Indigenous territories in Colombia are created in an agreement between the government and indigenous communities. In cases in which indigenous territories extend into more than one department or municipality, local governments administer jointly with indigenous councils (art. 329 and 330 of the Constitution of Colombia). Indigenous territories are recognized according to the requirements of the Constitution. Indigenous territories in Colombia cover an area of almost 31 million hectares, located mostly in the departments of Amazon, Cauca, La Guajira, Guaviare and Vaupés.

Relevant international conventions

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (1994 and ratified in 2003).
  • Ramsar Convention (Wetlands)
  • Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol.
  • Basel Convention (Control de Movimientos Transfronterizos de Desechos Peligrosos y su Disposición, aprobado según Ley 253 de 1996).
  • Stockholm Convention (Contaminantes Orgánicos Persistentes (COPs), aprobado mediante Ley 1196 del 5 de junio de 2008).
  • Rotterdam Convention (Procedimiento Fundamentado Previo para Ciertos Productos Químicos Peligrosos y Plaguicidas en el Comercio Internacional ratificado con base en la Ley aprobatoria 1159 de 2007).
  • Vienna Convention (Protección de la Capa de Ozono y Protocolo de Montreal sobre Sustancias que Agotan la Capa de Ozono, de acuerdo con las Leyes 30 de 1990 y 29 de 1992).
  • Convention on Desertification.
  • CITES Convention (comercio internacional de especies amenazadas de flora y fauna silvestres, CITES (ley 17 de 1981).

All conventions signed by Colombia can be found on this website.

Environmental Standards: relevant features


  • Regulation on Protection and Control of air quality
  • Decree 948 of 1995
  • Decree 1228 of 1997
  • Resolution 1309 of the 13th of July 2010 which amends Resolution 909 of the 5th of June 2008
  • Resolution 760 of the 20th of April 2010 adopting a protocol on the control and monitoring of air pollution from stationary sources.
  • Resolution 610 of 2010 modifying Resolution 601 of 2001 on air quality.
  • Resolution 651 of 29 March 2010 adopting the Information Subsystem Air Quality (SISAIRE) 
  • Resolution 650 of March 29, 2010: adopting the Protocol for Monitoring and Monitoring Air Quality, the protocol has been set by Resolution 2154 of 2010
  • Resolution 910 of 2008 sets emission standards for mobile sources.
  • Resolution 909 of June 5, 2008: establishes emission standards for stationary sources.
  • Resolution 2604 of 2009

Water resources:

  • the quality of water for human consumption (resolution 2115 and Decree 1575 of 2007 of the Ministry of Health Protection and the Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development).
  • Decree 1541 of 1978 (partially amended by Decree 3930 of 2010).
  • Decree 1594 of 1984 (only Articles 20 and 21 still apply ).
  • Decree 3930 of 2010.
  • All regulations related to water resources can be found under the following link


Country specific terms or acronyms

DNP = (Departamento Nacional de Planeación), National Department of Planning
MAVDT = (Ministerio de Ambiente, Vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial), Ministry of Environment, Housing and Territorial Development
CAR = (Corporación Autónoma Regional), Corporation of Region Autonomies
INGEOMINAS = (Instituto Colombiano de Geología y Minería), Colombian Institute of Geology and Mines
SIAC = (Sistema de Información Ambiental de Colombia), Environmental Information System of Colombia
VITAL = (Ventanilla Única de Tramites Ambientales), Unique Counter for Environmental Licenses
ICANH = (Instituto Colombia de Arqueología e Historia), Colombian Institute of Archeology and History
IDEAM = (Instituto de Hidrología Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales), Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies
POT = (Plan Ordenamiento Territorial), Territorial Spatial Plan
DAA  = (Diagnóstico Ambiental de Alternativas), Environmental Analysis of the Alternatives