The 60-year Colombian armed conflict had a major impact on several of the country’s ecosystems. Colombia continues to experience significant deterioration of its forests caused by illegal economic activities, such as illicit timber, crops, and mining, irregular livestock farming, and more. Environmental crimes are a key national and citizen security issue, requiring direct intervention by the National Police of Colombia and the involvement of stakeholders in local communities.
The Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) supports the Directorate of Police and Rural Security (DICAR) of the National Police of Colombia as they integrate community work into their approach, providing an educational component for the implementation of its environmental education project. This support is made possible through funding from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the United States Department of State.
The project, Rural Development with Environmental Education (DREAM), aims to teach communities, especially teachers and youth in rural municipalities, appreciation of the environment, the challenges it faces, and steps to care for and protect it.
“DREAM gives us the opportunity to raise awareness about the current environmental situation for our children and adolescents living in rural areas of Colombia, who are the future of the planet, and have the possibility of not repeating the mistakes of previous generations,” said Lieutenant Erik De la Paya, Liasion Office of the Environmental Security and Natural Resources Area of DICAR.
PADF partnered with the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana to offer trainings on “Environmental sustainability with a teaching approach for children and young people.” This course was developed for DICAR officers, as well as female police officers, from the Rural Operational Liaison Squad (EFEOR) who are working in different rural municipalities. Those who complete the “training of trainers” then become agents for the DREAM project and many other educational institutions in rural Colombia.
Officers who completed the training have already been putting their knowledge into practice through a series of pilot projects for the prevention of environmental crimes, including in the Norte Santander, Cauca, Bajo Cauca, and Guaviare departments.
Throughout the next few months, PADF will finalize its virtual version of the course to make it accessible to even more police schools and academies in Colombia.