OECD Territorial Reviews: Colombia 2014

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Regional development policy is a priority of Colombia’s government. The country has experienced sustained economic growth over the past decade; yet several territories still lack development opportunities. To promote growth in all regions the government has engaged in a series of reforms. For instance, it started allocating royalty payments generated by hydrocarbon resources to all departments and most municipalities, including those that are not endowed with natural resources. The reform also promotes better multilevel governance and represents a good policy practice for countries seeking to link natural resource development with regional development.

To support the current efforts of Colombia’s government, this report illustrates policy recommendations to help national authorities adopting a territorial approach to inclusive economic development. In particular, the OECD recommends to: a) improve the quantity and quality of regional statistics and formulate urban and rural taxonomies that help tailor policies to places; b) involve territorial constituencies in the design of policy interventions and allocate to them more implementation responsibilities within the framework of the National Development Plan; c) promote coordination among subnational bodies to scale up investment in territories to avoid that public investment – and royalty payments – gets dispersed in a myriad of small-scale projects.


Assessment and recommendations

Colombia is a large country that covers an area of 1.14 million square kilometres (almost twice the size of Texas or France), bordering two oceans and encompassing part of Amazonia and of the Andes. The country’s ethnic minorities include Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, which enjoy special status in the nation. Regional economies specialise in activities like intensive (tropical) agriculture, extractive industries, manufacturing and services (especially in urban areas). This regional diversity, however, is not reflected in the territorial statistics. An abundance of administrative data is available at the national and municipal level, but Colombia has no spatial framework for organising regional data. This has been something of an obstacle to a more thorough analysis. In Colombia, the data for the OECD’s smallest unit of territorial analysis, Territorial Level 3 (TL3), is not available. Such data could have been useful for comparison with TL3 regions in the OECD as a whole (1 791 regions in 34 countries). Most of the analysis in this review was carried out at Territorial Level 2 (TL2), which, in Colombia, includes the 32 departments and the capital, Bogotá. This report should be considered the first step in a process to help bring Colombia up to OECD standards in terms of regional statistics and indicators.


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