The Colombian-Peruvian border is located in the Amazon, a geographic space with an ecosystem of tropical forests, a rich biodiversity and abundant natural resources. The Border Integration Zone (BIZ) covers more than 277,000 km2. The Amazon and Putumayo rivers, the most important within the complex water network that characterises this region, besides being the boundaries of the two countries, constitute the only way of penetration and communication in the area. In addition, of these rivers depend on the economic model of subsistence that predominates in this area.
Its population, of more than 600,000 inhabitants, is almost entirely indigenous. The rest is composed mainly of settlers and natural mestizos. This population is mostly in poverty and marginalisation. The isolation from the poles of development, limited accessibility, great distances and dispersion of the population have made it difficult for both the attention of the State and access to markets and consumer goods that are not produced locally. Social services, such as health and education, as well as water, basic sanitation and energy have very low coverage. The same happens with access to financial services, technology transfer and communication connectivity. As such the level of basic needs that are unfulfilled are comparatively higher than national averages. Some areas of this border region are being affected by illicit activities, mostly directly linked to drug trafficking. These activities pose a threat to the inhabitants and their environment.
Since the establishment of a Border Integration Zone (BIZ) in 2002, Peru and Colombia have implemented a border integration agenda that has been developed and evaluated through several presidential and cabinet meetings. In 2013, with the formulation of the Development Plan for this area, the framework for the development of several bilateral cooperation activities was created through the Binational Commission for the Border Integration Zone (BCIZ), chaired by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of both countries. The Plan established six strategic objectives related to: the improvement of social services and basic infrastructure; the development of a productive base underpinned by the sustainable use of natural resources; the strengthening of the cultural identity of indigenous people; management for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; mitigation of isolation and disarticulation of the territory; and the strengthening of public, private and binational institutions.
In 2014, in a meeting of the two presidents and the First Binational Cabinet, a joint declaration was made in Iquitos, Peru, which led to the signing in Bogota and Lima, by the respective Foreign Ministers, of the “Agreement for the Implementation of the Plan for the Development of the Border Integration Zone (PDBIZ) between the Republic of Colombia and the Republic of Peru”. In 2015, in the Second Binational Cabinet, both presidents signed the Declaration of Medellin, which, among other issues, agreed to create the Border Integration Zone Development Fund, which receives resources from both governments to finance the PDBIZ. In 2016, four binational working groups were created: tourism, biodiversity, fisheries and pisciculture and regulation of cross-border transit.
National Strategic Projects in connectivity (roads, ports, airport, broadband, waterway network, Amazon ferry, navigability of the Putumayo River), basic infrastructure projects, and Binational Programmes, to be financed with funds from the Development Fund, were defined in January 2017 in Arequipa on the occasion of the Presidential Encounter and the Third Binational Cabinet. Binational Programmes refer to: infrastructure, innovation and cross-border sustainability, social inclusion and coexistence, and capacity building. For example, binational projects of special aroma cocoa and pisciculture will be supported in the Caballococha-Leticia area; for the Leticia-Puerto Nariño-Caballococha circuit, a strategic plan for the development of cross-border tourism will be designed; a community participation project will be implemented in support of the management of BIZ protected areas; and binational projects for the development of cross-border value chains of cocoa, camu-camu, Amazonian fish and sustainable forest management and reforestation, especially on the banks of the Putumayo River, will be formulated. These last cross-border value chains will be studied as part of the INNOVACT project. For those that are prioritised, strategies, action plans and concrete projects, which can be implemented in the short term, will be formulated.