Colombia — [Mrs Maria Miller in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 4:27 pm on 15th July 2021.

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Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) 4:27 pm, 15th July 2021

The hon. Gentleman raises an important issue, and I was just about to come on to the issues of sustainable recovery, trade and economic opportunities, all of which are important.

As for raising our concerns, I can assure Members that we regularly raise specific cases of concern with the Colombian authorities. In February, the UK ambassador for human rights, Rita French, conducted a virtual visit to Colombia to discuss human rights issues. That followed on from Lord Ahmad’s human rights-focused virtual visit to Colombia in October 2020.

As Colombia begins its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the UK is committed to supporting the promotion of sustainable economic opportunities that will help tackle some of the root causes of the ongoing violence there. Our international climate finance commitments play a vital role in addressing that challenge. Since 2011, we have provided over £237 million in Colombia to help halt deforestation, improve land use and create profitable, sustainable supply chains that protect the environment. Last year, we announced a £64 million programme to support the Colombian Government in reducing deforestation, specifically in conflict-affected areas.

I am also pleased to say that this year marks the second anniversary of the signing of the UK-Colombia partnership for sustainable growth. As we look forward to COP26 later this year, that partnership is a concrete example of how a bilateral commitment for nature and sustainable growth can foster climate ambition globally.

Let me assure Members of our continued commitment to prioritising human rights in our relationship with Colombia, and I thank colleagues from across the House today for their interest, concern and activism, as well as for sharing their many ideas with me today. We welcome your perspectives, all of which help us to build a productive dialogue with the Colombian authorities and civil society groups to address the ongoing challenges in the implementation of the peace accord and to shore up the gains made since 2016.