Date of Submission

Spring 2023

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Sanjaya DeSilva

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Senior Project submitted to The Division of Social Studies of Bard College.


“With each year that passes, Atlantic and Pacific cyclone generating areas have experienced higher sea surface temperatures and increases in the intensity and duration of tropical storms.” (Sherbinin et al., 2007) While climate change remains a myth to some, it has become a reality for many, especially those whose livelihoods depend on climate-vulnerable fields and occupations. Latin American countries are especially subjected to climate change consequences because of their vast agricultural sectors and their reliance on ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) patterns, “There is a clear relationship between the dynamics of weather and climate transformation in welfare and economic prosperity.” (Acevedo et al., 2020) Additionally, many South American countries are going through (or recently underwent) periods of intense political turmoil and economic crisis, leaving their economies in vulnerable states, thus diminishing their ability to recover from climate disasters and adequately adjust to potential climate change problems.

Standing 10th in the world for “climate risk linked to natural hazards, Colombia faces various climate-driven socioeconomic stressors.” (Climate Centre, 2020). A large part of Colombia’s rural economy and culture is sustained by its coffee sector and abundant natural resources suitable for many other tropical farming and tourism types. These enterprises do not perform well under the stresses of extreme weather variations caused by global warming. Besides being subjected to the increasing effects of climate change, Colombia’s agricultural sector faces several other challenges, such as internal violence (and its aftermath), land distribution inequality, a diminishing labor pool due to urbanization, increasing input costs, and a rise in international competition due to open trade market agreements. As a result of these issues, agricultural practices have been altered or abandoned altogether, and the rural economy has also undergone significant restructuring in the past three decades. Although many changes in rural Colombia have been consequences of an urbanizing economy and other socio-political problems, the move away from agricultural reliance and reorganization of the rural economy has largely been exacerbated by climate change, ultimately destabilizing the rural portion of the economy. Without proper government support and understanding of how complex rural political issues interact with the environment, the lowest income populations are affected most by these changes, hindering Colombia’s ability to progress towards development fully. As Colombia embarks on a new political chapter with the inauguration of its new left-leaning President, Gustavo Petro, now more than ever is the time to research and enact change.

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