Andres Pena '10 (Colombia)

Andres Pena

Currently, I am working as an Associate Consultant for one of the top universities in my country - Colombia - at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. I am part of a team coordinating research projects in the environmental field (management, policy & science... yes, sounds so MESPOM!). These research projects are developed between the university and different organizations from the private & public sector, non-profit organizations among others.

I am participating in the analysis of the potential impacts of Colombia's mega projects on the country's goals for reducing deforestation (ref. REDD+). The Colombian Government considers specific projects (in the infrastructure, mining, oil & energy sectors) as of Strategic and National Interest (It is basically a national policy of the incumbent president). Additionally, we are also identifying possible opportunities to implement strategies to reduce emissions by deforestation articulated to this national policy. This research project is funded by GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) and the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.

I also work on identifying High Conservation Value Areas (HCVAs) in agroindustrial landscapes. The process involves the development of a baseline for flora & fauna in areas dominated by large-scale palm oil plantations along with its spatial analysis. Once identified, management and follow-up measures are proposed for the HCVs (which includes both landscape units and its flora & fauna). The identification and management of HCVs is part of an integral strategy (based on sustainability) to differentiate palm oil production from competitors. This research project is being developed with one of the leading palm oil and sugar cane producers in the country, based on the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) standard.

Finally, I am - partially - involved in environmental impact assessments and management for projects in sectors ranging from mining to oil & energy.

One of the reasons I applied to MESPOM was the program’s integral approach to analyzing environmental issues by linking elements of science, policy & management. In every single project I have been involved in, there is an inherent link among these three components: policies at different levels (governmental, corporate) proposed to achieve concrete environmental goals. Management as actions designed to accomplish specific policy goals and Science to provide accurate and objective information -especially from the academia-, which is critical for an appropriate and context –based decision-making process.

The importance of these three components and their interactions in specific temporal and spatial contexts has been one of the main contributions from MESPOM to my career. In general, this approach has been important in order to: i) analyze and understand environmental issues based on their particular aspects and ii) make follow – up and adjustments to both policies and management measures. In my experience as environmental manager, I have been able to apply that approach in different projects ranging from EIAs, biodiversity conservation in agricultural landscapes, emissions from deforestation, to corporate sustainable policies, among others.

Thumbs up for the MESPOM Program, the people behind it! I have lots of good memories from the entire MESPOM experience: the academic part, the people & friends I made, the places I lived and visited.




River bank forests (landscape units relevant for conservation in areas dominated by agro-industrial crops. Plain lands –“Los Llanos” in Eastern Colombia)





Some species of fauna associated to agro industrial crops (palm oil)