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UK-Colombia agree new £20 million Newton Fund bioeconomy research programme

2 November 2016

A new £20 million bioeconomy research programme, responsible for developing new drugs, medicines, biofertilisers and pollution tackling products, has been announced by the UK and Colombia today.
The agreement between the two countries was signed at the Natural History Museum during an Environmental Serial led by Nick Hurd, Minister for Climate Change and Industry, and 
Yaneth Giha, Director of the Colombian national research agency Colciencias.

Yaneth Giha and Nick Hurd signing the agreement 

Minister for Climate Change and Industry Nick Hurd said: “The UK is Colombia’s number one partner for research collaboration and a vital ally in the fight to halt and reverse deforestation. The £20 million Colombia Bio programme is a significant moment in our relationship giving our world leading researchers and scientists the opportunity to work closely with Colombian counterparts tackling global challenges, addressing developmental issues and unlocking the full potential of Colombia’s biodiverse geography.”
The Colombia Bio programme, supported through the Newton-Caldas Fund (the name for the Newton Fund in Colombia), is a joint partnership between the UK and Colombia worth £8 million each year, and will address the development challenges of Colombia. The fund has aided closer bilateral relations between the two countries, addressing post-conflict development issues in isolated regions throughout Colombia.
Director of the Colombian national research agency Colciencias, Yaneth Giha said: “The United Kingdom is as a key strategic partner of Colombia in our quest for peace through research and innovation on biodiversity. Therefore both nations must keep working together for a sustainable and long-lasting scientific cooperation.”
Colombia is the world’s second most biodiverse nation and the new bio programme, funded by the Newton-Caldas Fund, will be responsible for ground breaking research to develop new drugs and medicines, pollution tackling products and biofertilisers that can sustainably increase crop yields across the country.
Colombia is also the UK’s number one partner in the fight to halt and reverse deforestation, which is the second-largest source of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is why we have already pledged to provide £45m support to address deforestation in Colombia focussed mainly on the Amazon region. UK-based firms including Unilever and M&S have committed to take deforestation out of their supply chains by 2020, including sourcing more materials from countries leading the charge against deforestation.
The UK has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Colombia, Germany and Norway to increase support and tackle the problem on an even bigger scale.
At the conclusion of the Environmental Serial, President Santos was gifted a picture of a new species of ringlet butterfly, Magneuptychia pax (the "Peace Butterfly"), named in recognition of the ongoing peace process work taking place in Colombia. The new species was discovered in the Amazon and described based on a study by an international team of experts, led by Dr Blanca Huertas Senior Curator of Lepidoptera at the Natural History Museum.