WWF Celebrates Launch of GCF Project in Colombia

Group of people posing for photo

In March 2024, members of the WWF-US team traveled to Bogotá, Colombia for an inception workshop to formally launch the Green Climate Fund (GCF) project Heritage Colombia (HECO): Maximizing the Contributions of Sustainably Managed Landscapes in Colombia for Achievement of Climate Goals—aligning with the HECO National Initiative.

The HECO National Initiative is an ambitious program to protect or restore 42 million hectares (ha) in Colombia in two phases over the next 20 years, under the leadership of its Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development and National Parks Agency. The first phase of the HECO National Initiative focuses on 35 million ha over 10 years with a total financial scope of US $592M.

Within Phase 1, there is the HECO Project Finance for Permanence (PFP), which totals US $245M and will contribute to managing 32 million ha over the next 10 years. As a public-private partnership designed to secure financial sustainability for large-scale landscape management in key geographies, HECO blends public funding sources with private philanthropic funding to unite them around common climate and conservation strategies and goals. This is the heart of the PFP methodology, and why WWF has supported the use of it through HECO since 2015.

More about the PFP Methodology

  • The PFP approach is a powerful tool for accelerating the funding, scale, and durability of large landscape conservation projects.
  • Adaptable to the needs and goals of each specific context, PFPs secure necessary policy changes and funding and bind them together in a single agreement that ties the disbursement of funds to tangible, measurable social and environmental goals. This ensures large-scale systems of conservation areas are well-managed, sustainably financed, and benefit the communities that depend on them.
  • Under the PFP model, HECO unites Colombia’s government, WWF, local, Indigenous, and Afro-Colombian communities, and a host of other partners to secure long-term, reliable funding for the management and protection of Colombia’s natural resources and wildlife.
  • PFPs are specifically designed to ensure that landscape management is funded in perpetuity, even after the project ends.

The HECO GCF project is the cornerstone of that PFP.

HECO GCF consists of a US $145M investment under Phase 1 of the HECO National Initiative and PFP, including a US $43M investment by Green Climate Fund (GCF). WWF-US proudly serves as Accredited Entity (AE) for the HECO GCF work. In pursuit of global climate goals, the project will generate significant mitigation and adaptation benefits through a paradigm-shifting landscape approach in Colombia, executed in tandem with a proven model for securing long-term financing for the effective management of large-scale landscape management.

The five landscape mosaics in this GCF project will contribute 6.6 million ha to the HECO National Initiative's terrestrial conservation goal, representing more than 5.8% of Colombia’s territory. The mosaics—Caribbean, San Lucas, Central Andes, Orinoco Transition and Heart of the Amazon—represent the diversity of Colombia’s ecosystems and climate challenges. They include both Protected Areas (PAs)—already under or designated to be included in the system of national, sub-national, and local protected areas—and ecologically connected productive lands under other forms of tenure.

Workshop Overview

A tool employed with all GCF projects, the inception workshop signals the formal launch of the project, bringing together all partners to review GCF implementation requirements and serving as the kick-off point to officially transfer implementation ownership to the Executing Entities (EEs)—in this case, WWF-Colombia and Fondo Patrimonio Natural. Staff training was a consistent focus throughout the four-day workshop, with sessions teaching WWF-US and GCF policies, documentation processes, safeguards, necessary technical skills, and reporting requirements. It was also an opportunity to meet with different project stakeholders, such as research institutions and government entities.

Because HECO is a PFP, the first day of the workshop highlighted the broader HECO PFP and HECO National Initiative to ensure the project’s alignment with national government goals. The day began with remarks from important implementing partners, such as Colombia’s Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible, Departamento Nacional de Planeación, Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia (PNNC), both Executing Entities (WWF-Colombia and Fondo Patrimonio Natural), and the Accredited Entity (WWF-US).

Days 2-4 of the workshop were comprised of presentations from WWF-US to familiarize the Executing Entities and project stakeholders with the implementation modalities of the AE, EEs, and project partners—as well as to review key GCF requirements, roles, responsibilities, and the technical requirements and policies related to:

  • Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)
  • Environmental and Social Safeguards (ESS)
  • Gender Mainstreaming
  • Financial Management
Team members pose for group photo


A particular highlight for the WWF Pandas on the trip, workshop attendees visited Chingaza National Park.

This was a point of excitement not only for the natural wonders, but because it allowed them to visit local project participants, meet potential future fund recipients that live in the communities in the park’s PAs, and learn how they might benefit from project funding.

The team also met with Chingaza Park Staff from PNNC, as well as Corpo Chingaza—a non-profit foundation that works in collaboration with the park.

Other experiences the team especially appreciated included:

  • High level of government support
  • Productive technical discussions
  • Interactive safeguards session
  • Opening reception to meet project stakeholders and newly appointed staff

What comes next

The HECO National Initiative represents a huge step forward for achieving Colombia’s national climate goals, and the GCF HECO project is pivotal in bringing HECO’s objectives to fruition.

With the project now officially underway, the WWF-US team will continue participating in ongoing discussions with the technical teams and finalize project documents. And as the EEs staff the project, they hope to collaboratively finalize and put monitoring agreements into place—tying those into national monitoring, and ensuring all project goals are in alignment with national goals.