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close this bookManagement of Latin American River Basins: Amazon, Plata, and São Francisco (UNU, 1999, 338 pages)
close this folderPart I: The Amazon river basin
View the document1. Sustainable water-resources development of the Amazon basin
View the document2. The Amazon policy of Colombia
View the document3. The Amazon Cooperation Treaty: A mechanism for cooperation and sustainable development

2. The Amazon policy of Colombia

Fabio Torrijos Quintero

Geographical location and biophysical features

The Amazon region, which covers 336,583 km2, accounts for one-third of the national territory. It comprises the departments of Amazonas, Caquetá, Guainía, Guaviare, and Putumayo. Geographically, it extends from the Guaviare and Guayabero rivers in the north to the trapezoid stretching between the Amazon and Putumayo rivers in the south, and from the Brazilian border in the east to the watershed of the eastern cordillera in the west (map 1).

The Colombian Amazon region is marked by biophysical, cultural, and socioeconomic diversity. The many different climates, geological formations, and altitudes make for highly divergent landscapes, with a great variety of soils, plants, and biodiversity. Rainfall is abundant, ranging from 2,500 to 4,000 mm a year, and the average temperature is 25°C.

The region's natural resources have been deteriorating under the impact of settlement, which has led to the deforestation of 7,500 ha of tropical rainforest, affecting species of fauna and flora and thus entailing a loss of biodiversity; pollution of water sources by waste-water, organic residues, and the chemicals used for illegal crops; and soil degradation from inappropriate farming practices. The illegal occupation of parks, natural reserves, and the Amazonian forest reserve has triggered various types of conflict, which call for careful examination to identify solutions consistent with local dynamics and with the objectives of the protected area system. Wildlife has also suffered from the consumption needs of the settlements and the illegal trade, to the point that various species are in danger of extinction.

Map 1: Location of frontier projects

Socio-economic features of the region

The indigenous population numbers around 60,000, and the immigrant population from several waves of colonization is 850,000. Population growth in the region has soared in the past few years, by 230,000, from 1985 to 1993. This is double the rate for the country as a whole, the highest of any region, and 45 per cent of it stems from migration. Of this population, 52.5 per cent lives in poverty and 24.3 per cent in extreme poverty.

The indigenous population is composed of 59 different ethnic groups, living primarily in rural parts of the Vaupés, Amazonas, and Guainía departments. The majority of them (70 per cent) are settled in 25 protected areas totalling about 18 million ha; the rest live in unprotected zones. The 1991 Constitution established that indigenous lands are territorial entities, and as such have the right to be governed by their own authorities, who are entitled to exercise the relevant powers, manage resources, levy any taxes needed to perform their functions, and share in the national revenue. The indigenous territories are governed by councils formed and regulated according to community practices and customs. Among other things, they enforce the regulations on community land-use and settlement within their territories and see to the preservation of their natural resources.

Illiteracy is 18.4 per cent, compared to 12.7 per cent for the nation as a whole. Primary and secondary school attendance is below the national average. Access to higher education has improved in the region, as a result of specially designed policies and the strengthening of the University of Amazonia.

The region's economy is based on highly diverse activities, as heterogeneous as its population. The economic activity of the indigenous communities is centered around small farms and the sustained use of the forests, and is basically oriented towards creating family-size units.

For indigenous communities that are highly integrated into the market community, the traditional system of production has gradually been replaced by farming geared essentially to the local consumer market. The economic activities of the non-indigenous population are based on both extraction and production. The main extractive activities at the present time are timber, oil, and gold, and to a lesser extent ornamental and food fish, in addition to wildlife.

Oil operations in the region are located in Putumayo department, and royalties constitute an important source of local revenue. However, these operations have a negative environmental impact and promote migration that affects the regional economy.

Agriculture as practised by the non-indigenous people has introduced foreign methods and products unsuited to the region's environmental conditions. No appropriate technology has been developed for livestock raising, so that there are no regional economic alternatives that are environmentally viable. Fishing, which takes place primarily in the departments of Amazonas, Caquetá, and Putumayo, is characterized by uncontrolled exploitation, and lack of scientific knowledge of the resources has led to the depletion of certain species.

Gold production in the region, though just beginning, is causing serious environmental disturbances, that are causing international and inter-ethnic conflicts. An economic model based on the cultivation and processing of coca has been developed, and dominates the region's economy. The national government's decision to eradicate illegal crops and control inputs has generated a conflict of major proportions in the social and political life of the region.

The transportation infrastructure is quite weak, which affects communication both within the region and with the outside. Given this situation, coordination among the various means of transportation is inadequate, thus making it impossible to build a multimodal system. Roads are few and poor in quality, and they tend to damage the environment because the area they traverse is so fragile. Here there is a conflict between the need to create the infrastructure required to link markets and the resulting environmental impact. This conflict is intensified by the contradictory approaches of different government institutions.

River transport, considered suitable because of its low costs and minimum environmental impact, is hampered by sedimentation of the principal rivers which reduces navigability. Air transport, the ideal means of communication, suffers from an insufficient and inadequate airport infrastructure, and its high cost is also an obstacle to its use.

National environmental policy

The national environmental policy is based on sustainable human development and has five basic objectives: (1) to promote a new development culture; (2) to improve the quality of life; (3) to promote clean production; (4) to work towards sustainable environmental management; and (5) to guide the behaviour of local communities.

The increasing environmental degradation in Colombia requires effective, dynamic government intervention, with the committed support of society and production sectors, to ensure a healthy environment for everyone and incorporate the environmental costs into development considerations. Environmental policy is put into practice through education strategies, joint efforts to increase social capital, gradualism, decentralized management of national policies, public participation, and scientific and technological support.

To move towards sustainable human development, a plan to solve the major environmental problems, to prevent the deterioration of the most strategically valuable ecosystems, and to build the foundations for a new development culture so as to bring about long-term change, is being carried out. The plan is divided into two parts: environmental improvement activities and modes of action.

Programmes and activities for environmental improvement: are (1) protection of strategic ecosystems; (2) better water; (3) clean seas and coasts; (4) more forests; (5) better cities and settlements; (6) a population and settlement policy; and (7) clean production.

Modes of action

To achieve the objectives that have been established, five modes of action have been developed: (1) environmental education and consciousness-raising; (2) institution-building, through the National Environmental System (SINA); (3) the production and democratization of information; (4) environmental and land-use planning; (5) global cooperation.

Environmental management is financed out of the national budget, external credits, technical cooperation, funds managed for other institutions, and resources of territorial agencies and regional corporations.

Development projects in the Amazon region

On 20 September 1996, Law 318 was promulgated by the Colombian Congress. Under Chapter II, Article 5 of this law, the Colombian International Cooperation Agency was established as a national government institution attached to the National Planning Department, with legal status and its own separate capital and administration. The main responsibility assigned to the Agency is the coordination, management, and promotion of all non-reimbursable international technical and financial cooperation received or granted by the country as official development aid to public agencies, together with any funds obtained through debt relief for social or environmental purposes.

In addition, Colombia has signed bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries to develop specific activities and programmes.

Colombian-Ecuadorian Agreement for Amazonian Cooperation

The Colombian-Ecuadorian Agreement for Amazonian Cooperation was signed in March 1979 in Quito. It was the pioneer bilateral cooperation agreement under the Framework Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation.

The agreement reiterates the "good neighbour" principles governing relations between adjacent countries, the traditional friendship between Colombia and Ecuador, and the preservation and rational use of natural resources in the Amazon region shared by the two countries. Special importance is assigned to improving substantially the quality of life of the inhabitants. The agreement also mentions the Putumayo Declaration of 25 February 1977 which deals with similar matters.

A Joint Colombian-Ecuadorian Committee for Amazonian Cooperation was set up as a high-level group in charge of studying and coordinating programmes of common concern. It was decided that its meetings would be chaired by an official with the rank of Ambassador.

The Joint Committee was assigned a number of tasks, including bilateral cooperation in assessing and investigating existing flora and fauna; better use of the agricultural, fishery, forest, mineral, and industrial resources of the zone; the expansion and improvement of roads and interconnections; and the establishment of a cross-border air service. Importance was attached to the creation of a regular transport service on the Putumayo and San Miguel rivers, the identification of engineering works required to make the rivers navigable, the joint coordination and provision of health and sanitation services, education, fishing, mining, and the marketing of products of local origin.

Plan on land-use and management in the San Miguel and Putumayo river basins

Under this bilateral treaty between Colombia and Ecuador, the two governments have initiated coordinated activities which are fully consistent with the "good neighbour" philosophy followed by Colombia in its dealings with adjacent countries.

In accordance with the terms of the Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation, Colombia and Ecuador, aware that integration and being a good neighbour are inseparable from and consistent with an improved standard of living for the inhabitants of the outlying Amazon region, and that all this is contingent on the harmonious, sustainable, and rational development of its resources, signed the Bilateral Agreement for Amazonian Cooperation in March 1979. It was subsequently implemented in February 1985 with the Rumichaca Declaration, in which the governments reiterated their decision to promote cooperation to further the integral development of their border areas. They also approved the terms of reference for the Plan on Land-Use and Management in the San Miguel and Putumayo River Basins.

In application of Article XVIII of the Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation, Colombia and Ecuador presented a joint request to the Organization of American States for technical cooperation and collaboration to begin preliminary studies for effective management in their border areas. In 1986 the proposal for the San Miguel-Putumayo Plan (PSP) was approved, and to assist in formulating it, the Organization created the Plurinational Project on Amazonian Cooperation.

To implement the planning, diagnosis, and evaluation stages of the project, Colombia chose the Colombian Water and Land Development Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture (HIMAT) and Ecuador the Agrarian Regionalization Department of the Ministry of Agriculture (PRONAREG). For the programme and project to formulation stage, Colombia designated the Amazonian Scientific Research Institute (SINCHI) and Ecuador the Institute for Ecodevelopment of the Ecuadorian Amazon Region (ECORAE).

The general objectives of the Plan are to develop the Amazon region by following an approach that combines management and preservation of the environment and biodiversity, while taking into account the potential and limitations of the area's natural resources and the needs and aspirations of present and future generations.

The PSP seeks to rationalize the impacts of disorganized settlement of Amazonian lands, and to help check the serious damage to the environment and natural resources caused by man's irrational use of the habitat.

Map 2: San Miguel-Putumayo River Basin Planning and Management Plan

The region covered by the Plan comprises 47,307 km2 in the San Miguel, Putumayo, and Aguarico river basins and along the left bank of the Napo river, in Napo and Sucumbios provinces in Ecuador, and Putumayo department in Colombia (map 2).

The guidelines of the strategy for meeting the proposed objectives of the PSP are as follows:

Regional action based on an integrated approach; development of alternatives to ensure the preservation of the largest possible area of natural virgin land, including restrictions on new settlements; land-use planning and consolidation in the areas currently occupied, to guide them towards sustainable development; promotion of self-management in indigenous and settler communities; priority attention to the social needs of the most vulnerable groups; promotion of security, maintenance of peace and order, and harmonious development along both sides of the border; and strengthening of the management capacity of the agencies executing the official and private programs.

The implementation of binational activities, together with individual efforts made by the countries, will make it possible to deal with common problems and situations using a joint, planned approach, which is more effective than the traditional practice of stopping programmes at the border.

With this in view, the Plan is directing efforts toward the rational use and integrated management of natural resources, through productive projects appropriate to the ecosystem; the management of national parks and ecological reserves; restoration of the culture and traditions of indigenous communities; preservation of biodiversity; guidelines for farm production; and a programme of community consciousness-raising and training on the Amazonian environment. It also includes environmental education and research and the strengthening of community institutions as part of a training programme in which the community has the leading role in every case.

Thus, the Action Plan contains five programmes, each with its own projects, components, and activities, broken down as follows: environment; organization of production for sustainable development; attention to indigenous communities and groups; health and environmental sanitation; and community organization and training. The programmes, structured as modules, will make it possible to integrate fully the indigenous people, settlers, and the national, regional, and municipal officials involved, with self-management as a key to the success of the programmes.

The phase of pre-feasibility studies and approval of the general concept of the PSP by the two governments has been completed. The national entity in each country that will act as the executing agency is now being chosen. In Colombia it will be Corpes Amazonas, with responsibility for following up, coordinating implementation activities, monitoring projects, and supervising and managing resources. At the same time, mechanisms and procedures for obtaining external funds are being examined, to complete the financing of the various projects.

The total cost of the PSP has been estimated at US$200,870,000, of which 60.4 per cent is to be financed by the beneficiaries and 39.6 per cent by the national governments. Of the 39.6 per cent, 15 per cent will come from the governments, and the rest from international agencies, nongovernmental organizations, or countries interested in investing in the sustainable development of the region.

Table 1: Costs, contributions, and resources for the San Miguel-Putumayo Plan


Country contributions

External resources









Organization of production for sustainable development




Attention to indigenous communities and groups




Health and environmental sanitation




Community organization and training




The cost of each of the programmes and the amounts of the countries' contributions and the outside funds needed are presented in table 1, in millions of US dollars.

Efforts are being made to find non-reimbursable financing, to the extent possible. Such financing is currently quite limited; most international organizations use it for studies, and fund some programmes with concessionary credits and others with loans at interest rates and repayment periods that are very close to those prevailing in the financial markets. This complicates the process, since most of the projects are social in nature, with negative rates of return on capital, and cannot earn enough to attract investors. The benefit of the projects can be estimated is terms of the well-being of the community, environmental sanitation, and protection of the ecosystem and biodiversity, all of which have a significant influence on the future of mankind.

The Unit for Sustainable Development and the Environment of the OAS General Secretariat convened a meeting in Washington, D.C., in June 1996, of representatives of the countries involved and possible donors, including developed countries, international institutions, and nongovernmental organizations interested in the subject. The potential donors expressed an interest in the bilateral plans and indicated that they would look at them and consider their financial viability selectively and by country.

Colombian-Peruvian Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation

The Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation between Colombia and Peru was signed in Lima on 30 March 1979, to give greater importance to environmental preservation and the rational use of natural resources in the economic and social development of their Amazon regions.

The bilateral treaty attaches special importance to the Act Supplementary to the Protocol of Friendship and Cooperation signed in Rio de Janeiro on 24 May 1934, which had laid the groundwork for cooperation between the two countries in their Amazonian regions, and takes into consideration the Multilateral Treaty for Amazon Cooperation signed in Brasília on 3 July 1978.

Article XIV provides for the establishment of a Joint Colombian-Peruvian Committee on Amazonian Cooperation, a standing group to study and coordinate programmes of common interest to their neighbouring Amazon territories, in accordance with the treaty.

The Joint Colombian-Peruvian Committee for Amazonian Cooperation will promote assessments, research, cooperation, and joint action to expand and improve the road network and build other communications infrastructure in the border area. It will also look into the prospects for creating cross-border air routes, on protecting the ecology, and preserving the environment.

The Joint Committee is also supposed to conduct ongoing evaluations of compliance with the 1938 Agreement on Customs Cooperation, with a view to updating it and amending it to meet current needs.

Plan for the integrated development of the Putumayo river basin

With technical support from what was then the OAS Department of Regional Development and Environment under the Plurinational Project on Amazonian Cooperation, Colombia and Peru decided to draw up a binational plan for developing their common Amazonian border region in the basins of the Napo, Putumayo, Caquetá, and Amazon rivers, which has been adversely affected by unregulated settlement and by the incursion of Colombian guerrillas linked to drug trafficking and their counterparts in Peru (map 3).

The plan covers an area of 160,500 km2. The most serious problem facing this area is the deteriorating quality of life and living conditions, which have been severely affected by the introduction of production systems and cultural and social patterns that are unsuited to the Amazonian ecosystem and are gradually destroying its biodiversity and irreversibly damaging its environment.

Map 3: Putumayo River Basin Integrated Development Plan

The enormous amount of territory involved and its distance from the centres of national government has enabled settlers eager for adventure and easy riches to occupy it unencumbered by planning or development criteria. The negative effects can be summed up as reduction of the habitat of the indigenous communities, lack of basic and social services, indiscriminate cutting of tropical rainforests, indiscriminate destruction of natural resources, sedimentation, and serious contamination of rivers and soil erosion, among other things.

The situation was further complicated by the arrival of drug traffickers attracted to the area by the facilities it offered them. To compound matters, settlers and traders discovered that Amazonian timber fetched very good prices on the markets of developed countries, and so they began indiscriminately cutting down native species, most of which were irreplaceable, using methods and techniques that led to desertification and sedimentation.

The Frontier Development Plan is intended to organize the abutting Amazonian territories and deals with the most sensitive issues, such as immigration, colonization, introduction by white settlers of inappropriate techniques of production and habitat maintenance and of cultural systems and habits foreign to the region, all of which have severely affected indigenous ethnic groups, polluted the rivers, and given rise to an illegal trade in live species in danger of extinction.

This binational plan consists of five programmes: natural resources and ecosystems, social development and infrastructure, trade and transport, productive activities and management, and institutional organization. In these programmes 12 projects have been identified, and the pre-feasibility stage has been completed for those that follow for integral and sustainable management of forests, natural parks, environmental education, integral fishing, management of wildlife in reserves, integral services for native indigenous communities, integral health, basic sanitation, and marketing.

The benefits of the plan are unquestionable. It means that understanding and joint management of the region and its problems, linked to the "good neighbourliness" that is an intrinsic part of Colombian foreign policy, will lead to binational activities carried out comprehensively to meet the basic needs of the people by means of decentralization and institution building. This will achieve a planned use of the land that will help to drive out the evil scourge of illegal crops and trade.

The plan is in the diagnosis and pre-feasibility phase, and steps are being taken to secure financing from governments, government agencies, and nongovernmental organizations, to ensure the success of the tremendous efforts that these countries have been making, together with the OAS, in this priority field of action.

Colombian-Brazilian Agreement for Amazonian Cooperation

On 12 March 1981, the governments of Colombia and Brazil, wishing to further bilaterally the purposes and objectives of the Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation, signed the Agreement for Amazonian Cooperation under the terms of Article XVIII of that treaty, with a view to ensuring the rational development of the Amazon's resources, preserving the environment, and making use of the flora and fauna, in accordance with the principles of the Agreement for the Preservation of the Flora and Fauna of the Amazon Territories, dated 20 June 1973.

Article I of the Agreement reads as follows:

The Contracting Parties have decided to initiate a process of active cooperation to conduct joint activities and an exchange of experiences in the area of regional development and scientific and technological research as applicable to the Amazon Region, with a view to achieving the harmonious development of each of their Amazon territories, to the benefit of their people and while adequately protecting the ecology of the zone.

Special importance was attached to navigation on inland waterways and to regular passenger and cargo transport on the Amazon, Putumayo-Iça and Negro rivers, pursuant to treaties in force. Surveys and hydrographic charts of these rivers will be made and the necessary studies will be carried out to improve navigability.

Studies will be initiated in the areas of telecommunications, regular cross-border air services, road connections, and health and tropical-disease control and, in particular, measures for the proper management of natural resources.

To fulfil these objectives, the Joint Colombian-Brazilian Committee for Amazonian Cooperation was set up. It is responsible for coordinating projects established under this agreement and other programmes of common interest directed toward the harmonious development of the Amazon regions. At its first meeting, held in Leticia, Colombia, in 1987, approval was given to the Colombian-Brazilian Model Plan for the Integral Development of the Neighboring Communities along the Apaporis-Tabatinga axis.

Colombian-Brazilian Model Plan for the Integrated Development of the Neighboring Communities along the Apaporis-Tabatinga Axis

The Colombian-Brazilian border area, a major segment of the Amazon, consists of the Colombian Amazonian trapezoid, in the departments of Amazonas and Vaupés, and the state of Amazonas in north-western Brazil.

The national border on the Apaporis-Tabatinga axis, the shared waters of the Caquetá and Putumayo rivers, and the inevitable isolation from urban centres have led the communities to create neighbouring settlements, which have stamped the region with its own special imprint of mutual support and development.

It is for this reason, on the basis of the Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation, that the Model Plan of the Neighboring Communities of the Apaporis-Tabatinga axis was approved (map 4). Work began under the Plan with the technical support of the OAS, and nine projects were designed: on productive activities, social infrastructure, social development, integral services to indigenous communities, public-health infrastructure, and institutional strengthening (urban development). The initial interest in the project continued to grow, and the diagnosis phase was completed; work is now progressing on the feasibility stage and on obtaining financing.

The Plan covers a large part of the common border area, but it only regulates half of the shared line. In 1991, at a meeting of the Joint Committee for Amazonian Cooperation held in Brasília, Colombia presented to Brazil a proposal to expand it to the remainder of the border area, from Apaporis to Piedra del Cocuy, where Colombia, Brazil, and Venezuela meet.

This proposal was well received, but Brazil claimed a lack of funds for it. It is badly needed to deal with the problems originating in these areas, since this is the source of the headwaters of the Negro river, an important tributary that joins the Amazon at Manaus.

The most serious problem in the sector is the increasing and highly dangerous pollution of the rivers of the Orinoco basin, the Vaupés, and the upper Negro by mercury and other elements from inappropriate gold-mining techniques. The violent attack on natural resources must be curbed by governments. The situation in the region is further aggravated by the presence of undesirables engaged in drug trafficking, common crime, and guerrilla warfare and the near or total absence of government authorities.

Map 4: Colombian-Brazilian Model Plan for the Integrated Development of the Neighbouring Communities along the Apaporis-Tabatinga Axis

It is hoped that the parties will once again give this problem the attention it deserves so that the activities and plans agreed on in the Bilateral Treaty may be carried out. The initial results were quite encouraging and provided incentives to the people in the region. The "good neighbour" policy exerted a strong influence and, despite the slowness of the work, has stimulated local activities of cooperation and understanding, which could surely be channelled into greater achievements.

Proposed Colombian-Venezuelan Amazonian Development Plan

At the Third Meeting of Foreign Ministers, held in Quito in March 1979, the Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs proposed to Venezuela a Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation to take bilateral action on land-use planning in the rivers of the Orinoco basins region that drain into the Amazon. The involvement and interest of international agencies and nongovernmental organizations were at a high point at the time, so it appeared highly likely that the initiative would be well received.

This also completed the Colombian government's efforts to ensure the integral binational, sustainable management of its Amazon border areas, since the agreement would cover the areas starting at Piedra del Cocuy that were not already receiving special treatment. The initiative was welcomed, but no reply was received from the Venezuelan authorities.

Conclusions and recommendations

Programmes of technical cooperation with bordering countries take on added importance when policies and strategies designed as part of a "good neighbour" approach are to be put into practice.

The national parliaments should exercise appropriate legislative control and make sure that the laws and treaties they approve are implemented. This power should be used as a natural ally of the cooperation agreements, since the benefits they offer and the problems they would solve directly concern and affect above all the poorest groups in each country.

The good-neighbour policy has fulfilled its original objectives and maintains its validity as the most important and effective means for generating mutual trust. It is important to point out that confusion as to this mechanism or the deliberate assignment to it of the execution of plans and projects, while ignoring its legal function of putting international agreements into practice, has brought the system to a standstill, to the detriment of all the parties involved.

The management and coordination of international technical cooperation should be handled by the agencies and organizations in each country in charge of executing the development plans, under the strict surveillance, and with the ongoing evaluation and coordination of the ministries of foreign affairs, in fulfilment of their constitutional function of guiding the foreign affairs of government. The internal mechanisms of each government must be committed to giving the necessary priority to good-neighbour principles, since Latin America has already wasted decades in which declarations of principles held sway over bilateral and multilateral development plans.

The bilateral Amazonian cooperation plans have fulfilled the mandates proposed by the High Contracting Parties when they signed the Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation. The political will of governments has materialized in various bilateral agreements and treaties, which have unquestionably generated activities in the border areas distant from the centres of power.

The participation of the Organization of American States (OAS), as a continental and hemispheric forum, in guiding and preparing the bilateral development plans has been one of the most important, most practical elements of Amazonian policy under the Framework Treaty, since it awakened an interest on the part of member countries in regions that had traditionally been forgotten and abandoned to their sad fates.

In the case of Colombia, the implementation of the plans has been regarded as a priority objective of border policy. With the Ministry of Foreign Affairs acting as coordinator, the various government institutions involved in the development of the Amazon have focused sizeable budgetary and professional efforts on financing activities related to the development of the Amazon.

The greatest needs in the outlying areas are found in these parts of the country. Major bilateral advances have been achieved with the neighbouring countries of Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil, countries with which Colombia has bilateral Amazonian cooperation agreements.

The micro-integration of border areas was achieved with the important ingredient of the Amazonian culture, which institutionalized such significant concepts as the environmental policy described above.

The bilateral plans have created an Amazonian consciousness and have led many professionals to specialize in various related disciplines. These are the people in charge of developing new environmental rules, and in this work the OAS has offered continuous technical assistance.

The development of the overall Amazonian policy has found its greatest ally in the bilateral cooperation agreements, because it is along the Amazon borders, where the sovereignty of one nation ends and another begins, that the concept of a "frontier of cooperation" must be institutionalized and strengthened. This frontier has no limits, since the regions are inseparable in their geographical and anthropological features.

The experience and the important progress made under the bilateral Amazon cooperation plans in effect in the region have made an important contribution to the overall Amazon policy. It is the responsibility of the Treaty Secretariat Pro Tempore to coordinate them so that they become additional elements of planning that will help in obtaining outside funds to finance the implementation of the bilateral projects together with national counterpart funds. This important action will put new life into the Framework Treaty and make it possible for the agreed Amazonian policy to become a reality.

It is suggested that the regulations and efforts made by the member countries that have signed bilateral Amazonian cooperation plans be regarded as in the regional interest. Colombia made this proposal during its term as Secretariat Pro Tempore in 1989, and it believes that the time is ripe to allocate resources obtained through the action of the Treaty authorities to practical projects, such as those prepared with the technical cooperation of the Organization of American States.