CIPE and its Colombian partners—the Colombian Confederation of Chambers of Commerce (Confecámaras), the Institute of Political Sciences Hernán Echavarría Olózaga (ICP), and Jaime Arteaga & Asociados—recently held a conference in Bogotá to discuss responsible investment in post-conflict areas and unveil the “Guide to Responsible Investment in Post-Conflict Zones.” The groundbreaking Guide—the first document of its kind in Colombia—aims to serve as a helpful resource for Boards of Directors of major companies by encouraging them to ask crucial questions before approving investments in previously conflict-ridden areas.
The April 10 conference marked the end of a joint initiative between CIPE and its partners, which included the production of the Guide, as well as other activities and research pertaining to the country’s 2016 Peace Accord. The aim of the initiative was to embolden the private sector to take a leadership role in the transformation of Colombia’s historically marginalized regions through responsible investment. The issue of responsible investment is particularly important because the recently signed Peace Accord has created new investment opportunities throughout the country; but without rapid gains in prosperity and a state presence in the former conflict areas, there is a risk of power vacuums undermining peace. Furthermore, without the appropriate and responsible integration of formerly marginalized areas most affected by one of the longest civil wars in Latin America, development of peace and economic prosperity continue to face obstacles.
Trust between investors and the local community is a key factor in enabling responsible investment, and the Guide seeks to help by providing a list of key questions that Boards of Directors can and should ask before making an investment. As CIPE Executive Director Andrew Wilson expressed during his speech at the conference, “This Guide encourages directors to dig deeper as they contemplate whether and how to make investments in post-conflict zones.” The Guide is a product of a year-long project that included dialogue and debate in several post-conflict regions among civil society representatives, government officials, businesspersons, and academia.
The complementarity of the input from these different actors enables the guide to answer questions pertaining to the impacts of investment regarding not only local populations, but also its effect on local authorities, the environment, development, land rights, and security. By providing Boards of Directors with guiding principles for investing in local businesses and projects, the Guide opens the door to greater opportunities for financial return and long-term relationships that generate sustainable development within the region. Additionally, the Guide provides a framework for best practices in accountability, transparency, and compliance within these formerly conflict-ridden regions.
Including the private sector in sustaining peace and economic development within regions most affected by conflict is a strategy that Colombia’s business community has embraced throughout the peace process. Confecámaras’ President Julian Dominguez Rivera sees this as an opportunity for the country’s private sector to “exercise its leadership” as well as “break new ground and enable local capacities and productivity in the regions, aligned with the private sector’s business and investment plans.” Businesses and boards can download the guide for free in both English and Spanish.
Tim Ridout is a Program Officer for Latin America & the Caribbean at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
Victoria Tellechea-Rotta is a Program Assistant for Latin America & the Caribbean at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
Read more about CIPE’s efforts to help investors pursue business opportunities in Colombia while ensuring post-conflict regions benefit from new development.
Listen to Jaime Arteaga discuss how companies can benefit from making long-term investments in Colombia.