And environmental technologies diagnostic study on cleaner technology capacities and needs in colombia

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Working Group

Ernesto Guhl Nannetti, Project Director

Mónica Salazar Acosta, Principal Researcher

Alejandro Boada Ortíz, Specialist



November 18, 1999




1.1. Analysis of Cleaner Production opportunities and capacities

1.1.1. Identification of opportunities

1.1.2. Determining capacities for R&D, the supply of clean technologies, and environmental management services

1.2. Compiling and analyzing information

1.2.1. Selecting the sample

1.2.2. Designing an information gathering instrument

1.2.3. The interview process

1.3. Review of international treaties and technical cooperation agreements on Cleaner Production

1.4. Identifying companies with ISO 9000 and 14000 quality certification

1.5. Prospective analysis methodology

1.6. Inventory of companies working on environmental technologies


2.1. Ministry of the Environment -- National Cleaner Production Policy

2.1.1. Coordination of government policies and agendas

2.2. DAMA -- Programmes to promote Cleaner Production

2.3. Ministry of Agriculture -- Ecological Agriculture Programme

2.4. Colciencias -- Cleaner Production research activities

2.4.1. Environment and Habitat Science and Technology Programme

2.4.2. Ocean science and technology

2.4.3. Biotechnology

2.4.4. Agricultural science and technology

2.4.5. Energy and mining research

2.4.6. Electronics, telecommunication and informatics

2.4.7. Industrial technology development and quality control


3.1. Colombian Business Council for Sustainable Development -- CECODES

3.2. Promotora de Desarrollo -- Codesarrollo

3.3. The Mamonal Foundation

3.4. Responsible Care Colombia

3.5. The Florverde programme of Asocolflores


4.1. Manufacturing industry programmes, projects and technologies

4.1.1. Development of a clean technology. REXCO

4.1.2. Development and application of an environmental management system. ISAGEN

4.1.3. Life-cycle analysis for paper. Smurfit Cartón de Colombia

4.1.4. Development of new biodegradable products. GECOL-IDEAS

4.1.5. Recycling and upgrading wastes. Ambiente y Medio

4.1.6. Development of bioinsecticides. Biocaribe

4.1.7. Developing clean technology. ES-Energía Solar

4.1.8. Closed-cycle production: waste re-utilization. Sucromiles

4.1.9. Process optimization in 12 electroplating firms

4.2. Engineering consulting firms

4.2.1. Engineering and manufacturing. TEPSA

4.2.2. The PROPEL Corporation

4.2.3. Engineering design and assembly. INDISA

4.2.4. Engineering consultancy. HIDRAMSA


5.1. Public and private universities

5.1.1. Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana

5.1.2. University of the Andes

5.1.3. Universidad del Valle

5.1.4. University of Antioquia

5.1.5. Pontificia Universidad Javeriana

5.1.6. National University of Colombia

5.1.7. Industrial University of Santander

5.2. Scientific research and technological development Centres

5.2.1. The National Centre for Cleaner Production and Environmental Technologies - CNPMLTA

5.2.2. Corporation for Construction Research, Innovation and Technological Development - CONSTRUIR

5.2.3. Biotec Corporation

5.2.4. Colombian Institute for Training and Research in Plastics and Rubber - ICIPC

5.2.5. Corporation for Biological Research - CIB

5.2.6. Sugarcane Research Centre - CENICAÑA

5.2.7. National Coffee Research Centre - CENICAFE

5.2.8. The Colombian Agricultural Research Corporation - CORPOICA

5.2.9. Colombian Petroleum Institute - ICP


6.1. Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer

6.1.1. The Montreal Protocol

6.2. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

6.2.1. The Kyoto Protocol

6.3. Bilateral cooperation agreements


7.1. Possible EMS barriers to Cleaner Production

7.2. The importance of EMS standards for Cleaner Production

7.3. Barriers to Cleaner Production

    1. Colombia and EMS certification


8.1. Analysis of results

8.2. The opportunities for Cleaner Production in Colombia


9.1. Aggregate survey results

9.2. Factors affecting Cleaner Production

9.3. Conclusions regarding the outlook for Cleaner Production in Colombia

9.4. Recommendations

9.5. Recommendations from the Workshop of Governmental Experts



11.1. Environmental problems

11.2. Survey form

11.3. Institutional matrix

11.4. List of entities interviewed

11.5. Outlook exercise - Expert Workshop

11.5.1. Opportunities for Cleaner Production

11.5.2. Introduction to the prospective evaluation

11.5.3. Preliminary considerations

11.5.4. Outlook formula


Background to the project

The United Nations, through the Division for Sustainable Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DSD/DESA), has been promoting the design of strategies for the innovation, commercialization and dissemination of clean technologies. In the course of this initiative, the Latin America and Caribbean region was selected for the first exercise, with a meeting of experts on the development of national clean technology strategies.

The project was to be implemented in a series of phases, including the design of a methodology for developing national clean technology strategies (output 1), a case study (output 2), an inventory of opportunities, a set of strategic action guidelines for technology policies, and a manual of recommendations and proposals for designing and implementing cleaner technology policies.

The UN selected Colombia as the pilot country. The National Centre for Cleaner Production and Environmental technologies (CNPMLTA) was chosen as the coordinating entity for the entire study. The study has two components: a diagnostic study of clean technology capacities and needs in Colombia, and a study of the opportunities for Cleaner Production in Latin America. The Centre contracted the "Quinaxi Instituto para el Desarrollo Sostenible" to carry out the diagnostic study in Colombia. This document contains the results of that research. The CNPMLTA also hired a Swiss consultant, Jurg Gruetter, to conduct the study of Cleaner Production opportunities. There was as well an advisory group, consisting of the Ministry of the Environment (MMA), the Departamento Administativo del Medio Ambiente (Environmental Management Department) of Santa Fe de Bogotá (DAMA), the Asociación Nacional de Industriales (ANDI) and CNPMLTA.

Conceptual framework

To clarify the concepts used in this report, definitions of Cleaner Production, eco-efficiency, clean technologies and environmental (or environmentally sound) technologies are provided below, together with a description of the approach followed by CNPMLTA.

The UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) has defined Cleaner Production (CP)1 in the following terms:

CP is the continuous application of an integrated preventive environmental strategy applied to processes, products and services to reduce the risks to humans and the environment. For processes, CP includes conserving raw materials and energy, eliminating toxic raw materials and reducing the quantity and toxicity of all emissions and wastes. For products, CP involves reducing the negative impacts along the life cycle of the product, from raw materials extraction to its ultimate disposal. For services, the strategy focuses on incorporating environmental concerns into designing and delivering services2.

Cleaner Production includes making more efficient use of natural resources, and minimizing wastes and pollution, as well as risks to human health; it attacks these problems at the source, rather than at the end of the production process. Cleaner Production is a dynamic and systematic process that is applied permanently at each stage of the product life cycle, in the search for continuous improvement. Cleaner Production requires a change of attitude and acceptance of responsibility for environmental management and evaluating technological options.

The following management tools, among others, can help businesses identify Cleaner Production opportunities: pollution reduction audits (wastes, emissions, discharges), environmental impact studies, life-cycle analysis, environmental management systems, quality certification audits3.

In this context, clean technology is only one integral element of the Cleaner Production concept, which also includes such factors as management attitudes and practices conducive to the continuous improvement of environmental management.

According to UNIDO (United Nations Organization for Industrial Development) Cleaner Production requires a change in the old "end-of-pipe" way of thinking, moving the focus from remediation to prevention. Prevention techniques and technologies go well beyond reducing pollution and disposing properly of wastes; they imply changes in management attitudes, in factory operations, in industrial processes, equipment and product design.

Cleaner Production calls for an integrated preventive environmental strategy that must be applied systematically and continuously. It therefore means conserving raw materials and energy, eliminating toxic raw materials and reducing both the quantity and toxicity of all emissions and wastes before they leave the productive process. For products, Cleaner Production involves reducing their environmental impact throughout the product life cycle, from raw materials extraction to final disposal of the product.

The National Centre for Cleaner Production and Environmental Technologies (CNPMLTA) has adopted these concepts in the belief that a Cleaner Production Strategy can be applied in various areas of business:

  • Product changes: optimizing products with lower consumption of raw materials and/or inputs (energy, water etc.), replacing toxic by non-toxic raw materials, product life-cycle considerations, among others.

  • Process changes: "good housekeeping", process optimization, changes in materials and inputs, improved productivity with a view to minimizing wastes and saving water and energy, among others.

  • Internal recycling of inputs, materials and wastes.

  • Technologies: switching from "dirty" to cleaner technologies, with the understanding that technology includes both hardware and software.

The Centre has set priorities for its actions. The first priority is to avoid and reduce pollution at source, through a preventive approach consistent with the concept of Cleaner Production. Since some degree of wastes will continue to be generated, despite efforts to minimize them, the second and complementary priority calls for reusing, recycling or upgrading wastes as preferred alternatives to final disposal, but these steps are clearly not part of the Cleaner Production concept. Another possible approach is to treat and dispose of wastes and emissions through "end of pipe" solutions; this falls under another set of environmental technologies that are not included in the Centre's activities.

The concept of eco-efficiency was developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) as an approach complementary to Cleaner Production4.

"Eco-efficiency is reached by the delivery of competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing ecological impacts and resource intensity throughout the life cycle, to a level in line with the earth's estimated carrying capacity." Eco-efficiency thus combines economic improvements with the more efficient use of resources and the prevention of emissions.

The WBCSD has identified 7 components of eco-efficiency:

  • reduce the material intensity of goods and services,

  • reduce the energy intensity of goods and services,

  • reduce the dispersion of toxic materials,

  • enhance the recyclability of materials,

  • maximize the sustainable use of renewable resources,

  • reduce the durability (degradability) of products,

  • increase the service intensity of goods and services.

The concept of eco-efficiency goes well beyond simply reducing pollution and resource use. It stresses the creation of value, and links environmental excellence to economic excellence (a firm's economic performance). The eco-efficiency programme seeks to disseminate best practices (successful cases) and to measure and report on companies' environmental performance.

Environmentally Sound Technologies5 are technologies (hardware and software) which contribute, in the particular national situation, to achieving or restoring the balance between objectives regarding social development, economic growth and the sustainable use of natural resources (including protection of the environment).

Environmentally sound technologies do not refer to any one technology or group of technologies in particular. This means that: a) a technology that is regarded as sound today may not be so regarded tomorrow; and b) a technology must be viewed in its relationship to socio-economic, cultural and environmental conditions, thereby creating an interaction the results of which must be constantly evaluated. These technologies may be classed on a scale ranging from preventive to remedial. Preventive environmental technologies are those that avoid the generation of wastes and emissions from the outset, through changes or substitutions at the source of pollution, while remedial environmental technologies are applied to reduce the environmental impact of wastes or emissions after they have been generated.

As an aid to distinguishing clearly between Cleaner Production and environmental technologies, there follows a typology of environmental technologies, prepared by UNEP, one category of which is Cleaner Production.

UNEP Typology of Environmentally Sustainable Technologies6

Water Pollution Control and Water Supply

Technologies for water and wastewater treatment, water supply and water resources management

Air Pollution Control

Technologies for the control and treatment of air pollution emissions (COx, NOx, CO2, - excluding greenhouse gases)

Noise and Vibration Protection and Abatement

Solid Waste Management

Technologies for collection, transport, storage, treatment, recycling and disposal of solid waste

Hazardous Waste Management

Technologies for collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste


Technologies for alternative and renewable energy supplies and for energy conservation

Cleaner Production

Integrated preventive environmental strategies for processes and products to reduce risks to humans and the environment

Land and Agriculture

Technologies related to the sustainable development and conservation of land, agriculture and natural resources, including land remediation, soil conservation, mineral extraction, biodiversity, agro-chemicals, sustainable agriculture and re-forestation

Construction, Building and Engineering

Technologies related to engineering, infrastructure development and building construction (including machinery, equipment or methods/techniques of construction) which are environmentally sound

Global Climate Change

Technologies for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation of global warming and alternatives to ozone-depleting substances (ODS)

The ultimate goal of all these approaches, of course, is sustainable development, which must be built on three pillars: economic growth, environmental balance, and social progress. In this respect, a company will be sustainable to the extent that it can strike a proper balance between profitable operations, environmental protection, and social progress.

If we think in terms of a pyramid7, where the vertex is the goal of sustainable development and the base consists a set of complementary management tools to that end, we can summarize the concepts, strategies, instruments needed for sustainability as follows:

  • Objective: Sustainable development

  • Macro-programmes and concepts: Agenda 21, Factor X, Environmental Space

  • Business strategies: Clean Production and Eco-efficiency

  • Administration systems: Environmental Management Systems, ISO 14000, Total Quality Control

  • Administrative tools: Environmental audits, eco-labelling, Cleaner Production Evaluation, Environmental Performance Evaluation, Benchmarking

The following chapter presents the methodology used in conducting the diagnosis of clean technology development in Colombia.


According to the terms of reference of the United Nations project, a methodology was to be prepared especially for conducting this diagnosis. Such a methodology was developed by the American consultant, Richard Bendis. When it was analyzed by the working group (CNPMLTA, advisory committee, Colombian consultants and the Swiss adviser), however, it was found to be inapplicable (for lack of information) and inadequate (it related generally to scientific and technological development, and was not sufficiently specific to the development of clean technologies). Moreover, in terms of science and technology policy and planning, Colciencias (Colombian Institute for the Development of Science and Technology) has available a number of works and reports, which will be discussed in section 3.4.

In light of the foregoing, the Quinaxi Institute prepared and used the following methodology for conducting this study. The Swiss consultant also prepared a methodology for measuring Cleaner Production opportunities in Latin America. These proposals were approved by the advisory committee.

The methodology is consistent with the requirements of the diagnostic study requested by the United Nations, the main purpose of which was to collect information on clean technology capacities and needs in Colombia, and on the various institutions working with Cleaner Production programmes, in order to assess and compile a state-of-the-art report on this area in Colombia.

1.1. Analysis of Cleaner Production opportunities and capacities

1.1.1. Identification of opportunities

Opportunities were identified through an analysis of:

  • National environmental problems as defined by the National Cleaner Production Policy. To this end, the MMA prepared a Matrix of Environmental Problems associated with Colombia's productive sectors, which was included as the basis for the policy (Annex 12.1),

  • The national demand for environmental technologies as identified by R&D Centres,

  • Domestic and international legislative requirements (emission fees, Cleaner Production cooperation agreements, international conventions on climate change, etc.),

  • Quality demands in national and international markets (ISO 14000 and other standards),

  • The world market demand for clean technologies8.

1.1.2. Determining capacities for R&D, the supply of clean technologies, and environmental management services

Capacities for Cleaner Production R&D, supplying clean technologies and environmental management services were determined essentially on the basis of information provided by Colciencias and CNPMLTA. This information was organized in the following manner:

  • Public technology research and development centres,

  • Private technology research and development centres,

  • Public universities,

  • Private universities,

  • Manufacturing companies,

  • Engineering consulting firms,

  • Industry associations and NGOs,

  • Regional Autonomous Corporations (CARs).

1.2. Compiling and analyzing information

1.2.1. Selecting the sample

A list of companies and institutions was selected for interview as representative for purposes of the study. These entities were classed according to their functions (government agencies, associations, universities, technology research and development Centres, businesses, NGOs), their nature as public or private bodies, and the production sector to which they belonged (energy, mining, agriculture, industry, transportation, environment and consumer goods). Annex 12.2 shows the institutional matrix. Not all entities identified in that matrix were actually interviewed. The business sector listing includes the names of only a few companies recognized for their commitment to Cleaner Production.

1.2.2. Designing an information-gathering instrument

The form used for gathering information was designed, first, with a view to the different kinds of entities to be interviewed. Subsequently, it was standardized to facilitate processing. At the same time, the corresponding database was designed. The first interviews, in Bogota, were used to test the instrument, which performed well. Given the complexity and possible confidentiality of the information being solicited, it was considered best to proceed by means of interviews. The instrument was, therefore, not designed to be filled out directly by the entity or enterprise in question (Annex 12.3).

1.2.3. The interview process9

Interviews were conducted according to plan in several cities of Colombia that had been previously identified as having the greatest concentration of Cleaner Production activities. Annex 12.4 presents the list of entities interviewed, organized by type of institution, sector and city.

In Bogota, interviews were held with government bodies (primarily ministries), businesses, associations, NGOs, universities and local environmental authorities. In Cali those interviewed included associations, research centres, universities and industrial firms. In Medellin, various kinds of entities were interviewed (businesses, NGOs, engineering consulting firms, a Regional Autonomous Corporation, scientific research and technological development centres, and universities). In the city of Cartagena, several companies in this industrial corridor were interviewed with the support of the Mamonal Foundation. In Bucaramanga the firms interviewed were concentrated in mining and energy (especially hydrocarbons), since these are the sectors where R&D and production capacities are most highly developed.

1.3. Review of international treaties and technical cooperation agreements on Cleaner Production

International multilateral treaties were reviewed, specifically the Vienna Convention for Protection of the Ozone Layer and its Montreal Protocol, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol. The analysis focused on the parts of these instruments that deal with Cleaner Production and technologies.

With the support of the Colombian Agency for International Development and the Ministry of the Environment a list of bilateral agreements in the environmental area, and in particularly those relating to Cleaner Production, was also obtained.

1.4. Identifying companies with ISO 9000 and 14000 quality certification

The official list of companies in Colombia certified as ISO 14000 compliant by ICONTEC (the Colombian Technical Standards Institute) was consulted. Because the list of companies certified nationally and internationally was so short (6), a list of those certified ISO 9000 compliant was also consulted as representing companies best placed to initiate certification of Environmental Management Systems, and information was requested on those in the process of certification.

1.5. Prospective analysis methodology

For purposes of deriving a forecast of Cleaner Production development trends in Colombia, an "Expert Workshop" was held, in which some initial basic assumptions were adopted as a framework for conducting the analysis. These assumptions were:

  • The subject of the analysis is a process that has been underway formally since 1994, when the National Cleaner Production Programme was included as part of the National Environment Policy in the National Development Plan. The analysis therefore relates to a dynamic, ongoing process that has already produced results.

  • The process of making internal progress in the search for Cleaner Production criteria, methods and technologies is closely related to international progress in this area, and to market demands.

  • The prospects for successfully commercializing Cleaner Production processes and products in the world market will depend on creating a solid domestic basis for Cleaner Production, which in turn means that these concepts and products must be appropriated and adopted internally before attempting to export them to international markets, where they will have to compete with countries that have long experience in this field.

  • The matrix of the Cleaner Production Opportunities component in Latin America and the Caribbean (developed by the Swiss consultant for CNPMLTA under the UN study) was applied to determine Colombia's position in the regional context.

In carrying out the analysis, the "expert workshop" methodology was used, whereby a group of persons regarded as experts, drawn from various entities and backgrounds, was asked to produce a quantitative assessment of the various factors that influence progress towards Cleaner Production in Colombia.

Three points in time were selected for the analysis - the present year 2000, and time horizons extending to 2005 and 2010 - thereby allowing trends in various factors to be assessed over the periods of time indicated. It was felt that any projection beyond the year 2010 would suffer from too great a degree of uncertainty.

We next defined a set of factors of various kinds that would reflect the possibilities of developing Cleaner Production. These factors were arranged in a ranking matrix for the three years targeted, and the experts assigned them ratings of high (3), medium (2), low (1) and nil (0) during the workshop. The factors used where identified on the basis of a spectrum running from the general to the specific, for a total of 26 factors divided into two groups, starting with the general framework and its development possibilities, such as policy and standards, and moving to highly specific aspects such as research and development facilities, industrial scale and competitiveness. The attached matrix shows in detail the 24 factors involved in the analysis, and the rankings assigned them by the experts.

This method produced useful results for analyzing trends, and it is considered appropriate for purposes of the study and for the level of detail of information available in Colombia.

1.6. Inventory of companies working on environmental technologies

In response to a supplementary request from CNPMLTA, a telephone-based inventory was drawn up of companies working on environmental technologies in Bogota, Cali and Medellin. Companies were selected from the telephone directories and from a list of environmental suppliers prepared by the Ministry of the Environment. This information will be provided in electronic format.

The inventory covered a total of slightly over 1000 companies located in the cities of Bogota, Cali and Medellin, which were classified by category, subcategory, type of product or service, specifying whether the company is a producer or importer and providing company data, including name, address, telephone and fax.

This work should be very useful for the Centre's future activities and will allow it to interact with companies and individuals involved in producing and marketing environmental technologies and services.


Following are the results of research into the Cleaner Production activities undertaken by the government over the past five years, i.e. since the concept of Cleaner Production was specifically included for the first time in a National Development Plan. It is important to note that this report refers to an ongoing policy.

In addition to presenting the National Cleaner Production Policy, the report refers to three government entities (two at the national level and one local) offering support programmes that have a major impact on Cleaner Production. These entities are the Ministry of Agriculture, the Colombian Institute for Science and Technology Development (Colciencias), and the Departamento Administrativo del Medio Ambiente (DAMA) of Santa Fe de Bogotá.

2.1. Ministry of the Environment -- National Cleaner Production Policy

The National Cleaner Production Policy was approved by the National Environment Council in 1997. This policy was formulated with a long-term view, in response to emerging environmental issues in the country's productive sectors. It was targeted primarily at preventing pollution at source, rather than dealing with it after it had been generated. According to this policy, environmentally cleaner production will produce a final product that is more respectful of the environment, as a result of a process that incorporates best environmental practice at each stage of the product life cycle.

The overall objective of the policy is to prevent or minimize impacts and risks to human beings and the environment, so as to ensure environmental protection, economic growth, social welfare and economic competitiveness, by introducing the environmental dimension into productive sectors as a long-term challenge.

The specific objectives are to:

  • Optimize the consumption of natural resources and raw materials,

  • Increase energy efficiency and use cleaner forms of energy,

  • Prevent or minimize the generation of pollutants,

  • Prevent, mitigate, correct and compensate for environmental impacts on people and ecosystems,

  • Adopt cleaner technologies and practices that will ensure continuous improvement in environmental stewardship,

  • Minimize and make use of wastes.

The strategies for developing the policy include:

  • Coordination with other government policies,

  • Establishment of an Environmental Quality System,

  • Institutional strengthening,

  • Promotion of Cleaner Production,

  • Promotion of self-management and self-regulation,

  • Design and implementation of economic instruments,

  • Continuous policy monitoring.

Several activities to promote Cleaner Production in the productive sectors were included:

  • Dissemination of the Cleaner Production concept,

  • Facilitating access to clean technologies,

  • Conducting demonstration and pilot projects,

  • Human resource training programmes on Cleaner Production,

  • Designing and using databases on clean technologies,

  • Fostering basic and applied research into Cleaner Production,

  • Generating mechanisms for international cooperation.

The policy contains several chapters, of which only three will be discussed here: the causes of environmental deterioration, policy instruments for promoting Cleaner Production, and policy guidelines for Cleaner Production.

The policy document offers a diagnosis of environmental problems (type of pollution generated) associated with Colombia's various productive sectors. The type of pollution refers to water pollution, atmospheric pollution, waste management, and erosion and landscape degradation. The productive sectors considered are: hydrocarbons, electricity, mining, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and the household sector. The identification of these problems is expected to provide opportunities for developing environmentally sound technologies in the country (see Annex 12.1).

The following policy instruments are called for as a means of promoting Cleaner Production:

  • Economic instruments of an environmental nature, aimed at changing the behaviour of businesses with respect to pollution fines or emission charges, water consumption, forest exploitation.

  • Fiscal and financial instruments: tax incentives and IFI-CAF-MMA lines of credit for financing environmental upgrade projects.

  • Cooperation agreements: an initial framework agreement on cooperation for Cleaner Production was signed, followed by a series of sectoral and regional agreements.

  • Voluntary environmental stewardship codes: these are generally private initiatives aimed at continuous improvement of environmental management, based on self-regulation and self-management11.

The tax incentives for Cleaner Production, according to the Taxation Statute, are as follows:

  • Article 424-4. Goods exempt from income tax: "Domestic or imported equipment and elements intended for use in the construction, installation, assembly and operation of control and monitoring systems necessary to comply with prevailing environmental provisions, regulations and standards, as certified by the Ministry of the Environment (MMA)".

  • Article 428 (f). Imports exempt from VAT: "The import of machinery or equipment, provided such machinery or equipment is not produced in the country, intended for recycling and processing garbage or wastes (such machinery includes that for washing, separating, recycling and extrusion), and intended for purifying or treating wastewater, atmospheric emissions or solid wastes, for the recovery of rivers or basic sanitation for improving the environment, provided such use is part of a programme approved by the MMA. In the case of contracts already signed, this exemption must be reflected in a lower contract value. As well, equipment for environmental control and monitoring, including that to be used in fulfilling commitments under the Montreal Protocol".

To be eligible for the VAT exemption, the supplier or manufacturer of the equipment must be accredited with the MMA and must have the appropriate certificate.

  • Article 158-2. Deduction of income tax and other taxes for investment in environmental controls and improvement. "Corporations investing directly in environmental control and improvement have the right to deduct from their annual income the amount of such investments made during each fiscal year. The amount to be deducted may in no case exceed 20 percent of the taxpayer's net income, before subtracting the value of the investment (Law 6/92 article 123)."

This deduction is made directly and requires no special procedure.

Cooperation agreements are governed in the first instance by the Framework Agreement on Cleaner Production which was signed by the MMA, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, state-owned productive enterprises and most of the country's business associations. Its objective is to support sectoral and inter-sectoral efforts to improve public management and the control and reduction of pollutants, by adopting sustainable methods of production and operation; and to improve the coordination of public management between the MMA and the private sector (businesses, NGOs, associations etc.).

There are several types of cooperation agreements for Cleaner Production: i) sectoral agreements to deal with environmental impacts caused by industrial activity in a specific field (for sample coal); ii) association agreements to deal with environmental problems of a group of related industries and products (for example Asocaña); and geographically based agreements related to the problems of industrial activities in a given area (for example Mamonal).

The sector agreements in place cover small-scale gold mining, hydrocarbons, coal, electrical, sugar, African palm, the manufacturing industry, agricultural chemicals, bricks and clay products. The regional agreements relate to the industrial corridors of Mamonal - Cartagena, Barranquilla, Sogamoso, Oriente Antioqueño. One approach used in Antioquia combines both regional and sectoral agreements in the areas of flower growing, swine raising, sisal growing and poultry raising.

The policy guidelines establish a general objective and several specific objectives, strategies and other actions for promoting Cleaner Production. The overall objective of the policy is to prevent or minimize impacts and risks to human beings and the environment, so as to ensure environmental protection, economic growth, social welfare and economic competitiveness, by introducing the environmental dimension into productive sectors as a long-term challenge.

The MMA has played a limited role in these agreements, to the extent that their execution (and financial responsibility) falls essentially to the signatories, in particular the companies concerned. The Ministry's responsibility is thus restricted to assessing and monitoring commitments, and it does not have a proactive role in carrying them forward.

Some of the signatories to these agreements (such as the Corporación Empresarial de Oriente, the Mamonal Foundation, Asocaña and Cornare) have played key roles in achieving their goals, and in training and sensitizing businesspeople to the negative environmental impacts of production processes.

The role of Cornare, the environmental authority for Oriente Antioqueño, has been key in developing cooperation agreements, in creating an environmental awareness among producers and in enforcing environmental standards. When it comes to creating environmental awareness, for sample, the Corporation has provided training to business people in environmental stewardship. It regards itself not merely as an authority seeking to enforce standards, but rather as a partner and adviser in creating awareness about the importance of Cleaner Production and sustainable development. The Corporation's proactive efforts to promote Cleaner Production can be seen in the fact that it is a party to 6 cooperation agreements.

The MMA conducted an evaluation of efforts to promote Cleaner Production in Colombia, and has published the resulting report under the title "Towards Cleaner Production -- Progress and Prospects 1995-1998".

2.1.1. Coordination of government policies and agendas

One of the most important things that the government can do to promote Cleaner Production relates to adopting common policies and coordinated agendas among the various ministries, and ensuring that they include environmental variables and issues, in particular those relating to Cleaner Production, in their policies, programmes and projects. The importance of this strategy is clear, given the role of the State as a principal player in national development.

Since 1995 the Ministry of the Environment has been making steady progress in articulating its Cleaner Production Policy with the efforts and policies of other government bodies. It has signed interdepartmental agreements with ministries and entities at the national level such as the ministries of Economic Development, Agriculture, Defence, Mines and Energy, and Education. As a further development of the Framework Agreement for Coordination for Cleaner Production, signed in June 1995 between the Ministry of the Environment, the country's principal business associations and the public mining and energy sector, the COMIS (Inter-Institutional Committee for Cleaner Production) was established to coordinate work with the productive sector; the MMA and the Ministry of Mines and Energy have members on the committee, and there are six representatives of business associations.

At the sector and regional level, progress has been made towards signing Cleaner Production agreements in several sectors, and in specific geographic areas. These agreements have been supported and signed by the MMA and by most of the Regional Autonomous Corporations.

As noted earlier, the MMA has issued a publication entitled "Towards Cleaner Production. Progress and Prospects 1995-1998", which reviews the history of achievements to date, underscoring the interest of the MMA in consolidating and highlighting its leadership role. The report provides background information on Cleaner Production in Colombia, describes progress in implementing the policy by sector, and offers an analysis of future prospects.

The most recent step in the strategy for inter-institutional environmental coordination was the signature on 24 August 1999 of the Joint Working Agenda between the MMA and each of the following ministries: Economic Development, Mines and Energy, Agriculture and Rural Development, Health and Transport. While these agendas embrace a wide range of environmental issues, in each case (with the exception of the Health Ministry) they contain specific proposals for action towards Cleaner Production.

The Working Agendas are structured around the following areas:

  • Formulating and implementing environmental policies and technical regulations,

  • Establishing joint programmes, plans and projects,

  • Institutional strengthening.

Following in an outline of the proposed agendas as they relate to clean processes and technologies; in some cases they contain specific references, while in others they open the possibility for development and utilization. Ministry of Economic Development

The following actions have been planned for formulating and implementing environmental policies and technical regulations:

  • Design and implementation of economic and financial instruments in support of proposed activities in each area,

  • Wastewater emission fees,

  • Efficient use of water (Law 373/97). Programmes to promote water savings and efficiency, with their respective implementation guidelines.

Joint programmes, plans and projects have been established in several areas:

  • Urban management:

  • Pilot project for sustainable urban transport in a medium-sized city,

  • Implementation of a project for mass use of gas as a vehicle fuel.

  • Tourism: promotion of sustainable tourism in various forms: urban tourism, sun-and-beach tourism, agro-tourism among others. As an initial phase, a pilot project will be undertaken in San Andrés and Providencia.

  • Industry: incentives to industrial development structures at the regional and sectoral level. Cleaner Production agreements, competitiveness agreements, CARCES, and Regional Investment Promotion Centres. In the initial phase, several projects have been undertaken:

  • Project to identify opportunities for cleaner technologies in priority industrial sectors,

  • Energy efficiency programmes, rational use of water and pilot projects for integrated management of hazardous wastes in the industrial corridors of Mamonal-Cartagena, Barranquilla, Oriente Antioqueño, Santa Fe de Bogotá D.C., Sogamoso and Cali-Yumbo,

  • Environmental technical assistance for businesses, particularly SMEs, and rehabilitation projects in the coffee-growing region,

  • Consolidating regional units to provide environmental technical assistance to businesses, through "environmental windows" and ACERCAR, among others, and extending their coverage to the trade and services sectors. Ministry of Mines and Energy

As part of the strategy for formulating and implementing environmental policies and technical regulations, greater emphasis will be placed on Cleaner Production agreements at the subsector level (three agreements have already been signed, and others are awaiting signature), with an initial focus on the agreements already signed (coal, electricity and hydrocarbons). In addition, work will be undertaken to design and implement economic and financial instruments in support of proposed activities.

Joint programmes, plans and projects to be undertaken include the following:

  • "Clean Development Mechanism" projects and others, under the Convention on Climate Change (Kyoto Protocol),

  • Pilot projects for Cleaner Production in the electricity, hydrocarbons and coal sectors.

The following projects will be undertaken in the initial phase:

  • Pilot project for efficient energy use in industrial corridors,

  • National cleaner fuels strategy,

  • Promoting the use of natural gas as an automotive fuel. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development

Joint programmes, plans and projects include the following:

  • Consolidation of Cleaner Production Agreements in the sector,

  • New regional agreements for the raw sugar, sisal, yucca, rice milling and poultry subsectors,

  • Promoting action plans under the agreements on pesticides, palm oil, sugar, flower growing, swine raising, sisal and poultry raising,

  • Implementation of the National Plan for Sustainable Agriculture and Ecological Agriculture12,

  • Programmes to promote efficient water use in agricultural sectors,

  • Design and implementation of economic incentives. Ministry of Transport

Joint projects will be established and implemented to apply the clean development mechanism under the Convention on Climate Change. The initial phase will see the preparation of draft legislation for vehicle conversion, by the National Centre for Cleaner Production and Environmental Technologies.

With respect to institutional strengthening, economic and financial incentives will be designed and implemented for projects in the sector.

2.2. DAMA -- Programmes to promote Cleaner Production

The DAMA (Departamento Administrativo del Medio Ambiente of Santa Fe de Bogotá D.C.) is active on a number of fronts in promoting environmentally sound technologies. These include: i) monitoring industrial effluents; ii) the ACERCAR programme; and iii) the project to minimize industrial pollution by promoting Cleaner Production technologies.

As a result of the industrial effluent monitoring programme, 76 water treatment plants have recently been constructed, and water pollution levels have been significantly reduced.

ACERCAR is the Environmental Technical Assistance Unit for small and medium-sized enterprises in Bogota. The ACERCAR window was created in 1996, and provides free information, training and technical assistance to industries in obtaining the transfer of technology to mitigate the environmental impact of their activities.

In the first phase, 566 companies received advisory assistance, primarily in the food, leather, metallurgy, chemicals and graphic arts sectors, and 140 plant visits were conducted, mostly in the same sectors. The result was the implementation of environmental impact mitigation measures in 117 businesses. During the second phase, there were 1,669 consultations, again primarily in the sectors mentioned above, plus the rubber and plastics sector. Some 410 plant visits were conducted.

In addition, there are other tools such as the Sector Agreements on Environmental Stewardship (ASGA) signed between the Technical Assistance Unit and groups of businesses in various productive sectors, to help industrial participants gain readier access to environmental solutions, achieve better results from technical assistance, access information more promptly, and participate in technology seminars programmed by ACERCAR. Twenty-five ASGAs have been signed, covering 333 companies.

The principal services offered by ACERCAR are:

  • General advice on environment and Cleaner Production issues,

  • Identifying sources of credit for environmental conversion projects,

  • Assistance to businesses in assessing the implementation of environmentally sound technologies from an economic viewpoint,

  • Advice relating to environmental legislation,

  • Information on clean technologies available to productive sectors,

  • Specialized technical assistance for productive sectors,

  • National and international technology update seminars,

  • Pollution control guidance.

As a follow-up to these advisory services, the company can access resources under the Industry Environmental Conversion Fund, FRATI. The purpose of this fund is to provide co-financing for designing and implementing conversion projects by microenterprises and SMEs seeking to prevent or mitigate their environmental impact.

The fund finances the following activities:

  • Environmental studies and diagnoses, aimed at minimizing wastes and emissions and, in general, at preventing and controlling industrial pollution,

  • Design of environmental conversion projects for industries, aimed at achieving one or more of the objectives listed above,

  • Research and applied technology development projects for modifying processes and incorporating the best available technologies, in order to minimize wastes and emissions, control pollution or undertake tests or pilot projects,

  • Demonstration projects in environmental conversion, to highlight the economic, social and environmental benefits of incorporating clean technologies,

  • Sponsorship or cofinancing to help microenterprises and SMEs attend national and international trade fairs demonstrating the latest technological developments and how they can be used in industrial processes.

The IFI-DAMA offers a rediscount facility for environmental conversion projects by microenterprises and SMEs. This line of credit carries concessional terms with below-market interest rates, and can be used to finance the following:

  • Environmental diagnoses and studies aimed at Cleaner Production (eco-efficiency),

  • Design of technology research and development projects for minimizing wastes and emissions, controlling pollution, or undertaking tests or pilot projects,

  • Fixed assets and working capital (raw materials) needed by microenterprises and SMEs to carry out the recommendations of the studies referred to above.

As of June 1999, the value of applications for credit under the IFI-DAMA facility amounted to 2,223 million pesos.

The first two phases of the ACERCAR programme were carried out by the CINSET advisory and consulting firm. In 1999 the programme was suspended for several months for restructuring, and was recently awarded to another consulting firm.

The project for minimizing industrial pollution by promoting Cleaner Production technologies has been supported by the Japanese cooperation agency, JICA. The basic project consisted of conducting an environmental diagnosis of four sectors (10 firms per sector), and a subsequent detailed environmental audit of two firms in each sector. The sectors were selected primarily for their environmental impact and for the degree of support and participation by their respective industry associations. The textile, electroplating, oils and fats, soaps and detergents sectors were selected in this way. The project is now completed, and consideration is being given to replicating it at the national level, with the support of the Ministry of the Environment. As well, another project is under negotiation with JICA for the construction of industrial parks for the electroplating, poultry and tanning sectors, where the environmental impact is high.

2.3. Ministry of Agriculture -- Ecological Agriculture Programme

The Ministry of Agriculture, through its Environmental Stewardship Unit (UGA), is developing an initiative to promote ecological agriculture (total or substantial reduction in the use of synthetic inputs as fertilizers and pesticides). This programme is aimed at small-scale producers, and its objective is to enhance their competitiveness for export. At least than 14 producers have now been certified, with operations covering about 20,000 hectares, and products worth some 5 million dollars have been exported. The principal products are raw sugar, refined sugar, African palm, coffee, palmito, sugar cane, bananas, aloe, mangoes and herbs and spices. Export markets are the European Union, the United States and Canada.

Although ecological agriculture is not considered an initiative under the Cleaner Production programme, but rather a form of Cleaner Production in its own right, it may be regarded as a technological advance for small and medium-scale producers. The technology package for this system consists of a set of ecological practices for managing crops, soils, diseases and wastes in such a way that they will have no or negligible negative environmental impact compared with traditional production systems. Ecological agriculture practices, however, are not applicable to large-scale production that requires a high degree of mechanization and involves crop rotation (with high demands for synthetic inputs to maximize yields per hectare).

2.4. Colciencias -- Cleaner Production research activities13

The National Science and Technology System, SNCyT, is developing a strategic vision of the country's priorities for scientific research and ecological development, and of the role of education in this area, in particular that of the universities, and on this basis is formulating a strategic agenda for making Colombia a Knowledge Society14.

SNCyT has established the National Innovation System (SNI) embracing innovative companies, universities, technology centres, engineering and consulting firms, suppliers, quality control laboratories, design centres and financial institutions. The National Apprenticeship Service (Sena15) is an active participant in the National Innovation System, where it plays several roles. For example, it is supporting work of the Technology Development Centres (CDTs) by promoting and financing joint projects with businesses, CDTs and Sena training centres16. For purposes of this study, the SNI is the most important entity, because of its close links to technology development.

In developing this strategic vision of science and technology, strategic plans have been formulated for national science and technology programmes17, which will serve as a point of reference for higher education institutions and for technological research and development centres and groups, not only in the area of research and development -- with the focus on world trends and national research priorities -- but also as a guide for improving the quality and relevance of instruction at both the undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The following tables set forth the R&D priorities of national science and technology programmes relating to Cleaner Production, clean technologies and environmental technologies relevant to this study.18 These tables also identify the research groups working on each line of research (those that have won tenders from Colciencias in support of research centres and groups in 1996 and 1997 are shown in italics)19. In the course of analyzing these lines of activity, keywords or specific research priorities have been identified in some cases to help in understanding the tables.

The science and technology programmes covered by this study are:

  • Environment and habitat,

  • Oceans,

  • Biotechnology,

  • Agriculture,

  • Energy and mining,

  • Electronics, telecommunications and computers,

  • Industrial technology development and quality control.

2.4.1. Environment and Habitat Science and Technology Programme

This programme has financed very few projects in the area of environmental technology over the period 1991-1998. Those projects are:

  • Design, construction and installation of pollution control equipment in the electric steelworks of Siderúrgica del Muña and Siderúrgica de Boyacá.

  • Evaluation of dry anaerobic digestion of the solid fraction of municipal wastes, Universidad de los Andes.

  • Use of molecular sieves in the decontamination of liquid wastes, Universidad de Antioquia.

  • Study of the contents of three pesticides used in the basin of the Cauca River and their relation to environmental degradation and pollution absorption, Universidad del Valle.

  • Catalysts for controlling environmental pollution, Universidad de Antioquia.

  • Use of natural and synthetic fibres to protect slow sand filters in tropical environments, CINARA Universidad del Valle.

  • The CIPAV decontamination system: a technology for reducing water pollution from agricultural runoff.

The first two projects have been completed, and the others are still in execution.




Technology and environment

Treatment of contamination and environmental restoration

Clean and alternative technologies

Eco-efficiency and the product life cycle: inputs and outputs, savings, re-use and recycling

Potable Water and Basic Sanitation Research Centre –CINARA, Univalle

Research programme on solid wastes –PIRS, UN

Centre for Environmental Studies and Research, UIS

Colombian Oil Institute, ICP

Environmental Research Centre -CIA, U. de A.

Environmental Engineering Research Centre, U. Andes

Heterogeneous Catalysis Centre, U.N.


Research Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Production Systems –CIPAV


In addition, the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies (IDEAM), which falls under the Ministry of the Environment, conducted an Inventory of Environmental Research in Colombia a few years ago, covering the period 1990-1996.21. The inventory collected information from 3100 projects of basic and applied research, conducted by various kinds of institutions, universities (primarily), CARs, businesses (very few), NGOs etc. The information is classified by thematic areas, one of which is "technology", and which in turn is subdivided into clean technologies, biotechnology and agricultural technologies. The area of clean technologies has four divisions: technologies for Cleaner Production, energy, pollution remediation technologies (waste recycling and reuse; water and air pollution remediation), and environmental monitoring technologies. The area of biotechnology includes general, animal and plant biotechnology and vegetative propagation technologies. Agricultural technologies are divided into biological controls, fertilizers and organic inputs, sustainable and integrated agriculture, and integrated pest management.

Most of the projects summarized in this database as relevant to our study were collected during interviews at universities and research centres. A few others came to our attention through other sources.

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