Colombia’s President: ‘We Are Destroying Mother Earth’

After ending his country’s civil war, Juan Manuel Santos sets his sights on climate change.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, 66, won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to his nation’s 52-year civil war. He was honored recently by National Geographic for greatly increasing protected land and marine areas in Colombia, one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries.

We are one of the richest countries in terms of biodiversity, and we are one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. That gives us a special responsibility to protect, as soon as possible, the largest amount of territories that are a jewel for Colombians and for humanity. That’s why I accelerated the process of protecting the most valuable resources we have.

All of the above, but there’s one priority we need to address, which is demining. Colombia is still the second most mined country in the world, after Afghanistan. If we want to enjoy peace, we need to demine the country. That’s priority number one. But of course restitution of land to the peasants, which we are doing, is a priority, along with the sustainable way of developing [areas touched by the war], for people to see change as fast as possible.

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