Col-Col exchanges promote local development processes and empowerment.
In order to take advantage of regions’ accumulated knowledge to address different problems and to contribute to local development, the Colombian Presidential Agency for International Cooperation (APC-Colombia by its Spanish acronym) developed a portfolio of territorial practices and methodological guidelines to systematize, classify and validate peace and local development experiences. This portfolio, which can be used as an input for negotiations in the framework of several cooperation modalities, is called “Saber Hacer Colombia” and Col-Col Cooperation should be highlighted as one of these best practices. Col-Col exchanges consist of knowledge sharing between two or more national or local stakeholders in Colombia in order to strengthen capacities and contribute to peace and local development (APC-Colombia, 2022a).
In addition to the implementation of programs and projects in the framework of traditional official development assistance, through Col-Col Cooperation, donors have the opportunity to technically and financially support knowledge exchanges conceived, designed and implemented at the local level, hence the name Col-Col, or Colombia enseña Colombia (Colombia teaches Colombia) (APC-Colombia, 2022b, p. 3). According to APC-Colombia, Col-Col Cooperation:
Also promotes social, cultural and political integration between territories, communities, villagers and relevant local stakeholders which are not used to interact to collaboratively address their problems and needs, due to geographical distance, the absence of platforms for debate (networks, associations, federations) and financial reasons, among others (APC-Colombia, 2022b, p.5).
Therefore, the aim of Col-Col Cooperation is to take advantage of territories’ accumulated knowledge on how to tackle different development problems. This experience can be shared with other partners, strengthening community and local development processes in the medium and long term. One of Col-Col’s main features is that it allows the systematization of this processes through a methodological toolkit developed by APC-Colombia which also includes evaluation instruments such as indicators to monitor and follow-up results.
This decentralized South-South Cooperation experience has been shared by the Andean country with other Ibero-American partners such as Argentina. Specifically, a project was designed to strengthen the Directorate for Planning and International Cooperation (DPPCI by its Spanish acronym) of the province of Buenos Aires and to promote actions involving its 1345 municipalities. The first step was to design a Col-Col model for the DPPCI and adapt the toolkit to the specific context, subsequently developing a pilot exchange to apply the new methodology.
Nine activities were carried out in order to achieve these two results. Through these, participants were able to become familiar with the methodology and with Col-Col’s main features, as well as with criteria and approaches to work with different territories and the adaptation of the instrument to develop activities online. In this sense, it is important to highlight that, until 2019, Col-Col exchanges were carried out in the different municipalities. However, during the pandemic and due to confinements, activities were developed remotely in order not to delay projects’ implementation. Despite Colombia transferred Argentina its experience online, both countries were interested in deepening the exchanges through on-site visits to Colombian territories in order to later replicate activities in the province of Buenos Aires.
By sharing Col-Col with other Ibero-American partners, Colombia contributes to SDG 17 (Partnerships for the goals) and SDG 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions).
The following video, posted by APC-Colombia, provides more information on this best practice:
Source: Colombian Presidential Agency for International Cooperation (APC-Colombia) (2022a) (2022b), technical reports and SIDICSS (2022).