Social indicators such as income poverty evidence economic poverty in the Departments of the Pacific region: Chocó with a 62.8% evinces the highest index in Colombia. 63,8% of Cauca’s population resides in rural areas, 43% of which deems itself to be of indigenous or Afro-Colombian descent; the majority of this population lives in poverty, evincing an index of 51.6% with respect to the 27.8% national average.
In Nariño, with a 40% index, poverty also ranks above Colombia’s national average. In Valle del Cauca, for its part, this indicator reaches 21.5%, making this Department the only one in the Pacific region below the national income poverty average. Despite its potential, Buenaventura – one of its main municipalities and the second largest port in Colombia, according to Superintendence of Ports and Transportation of Colombia data, – has failed to decidedly promote equitable social development, which in addition to the adverse effects of armed conflict has condemned its population to poverty, inequality and vulnerability.
Consequently, Colombia’s Pacific is a highly contrasting region that evinces challenging gaps arising or deriving from armed conflict, low education and health coverage, inadequate infrastructure, insecurity, and unemployment. Nevertheless, it also possesses significant and unrivaled biodiversity and gold mining potential:
Colombia’s Pacific region potential
Peoples of all racial descent, blacks, whites, indigenous and mestizo, coexist in this region, concentrating close to 30% of al indigenous peoples, and 44% of the total Afro-Colombian population, which makes it the most racially and culturally diverse. The region has important natural resources and competitive advantages, surrounded by 339,100 km2 of ocean – 37% of the oceans and 45% of the coastal regions in the country –, which make Valle del Cauca, Cauca, Nariño, and Chocó, essential to Colombia’s trade expansion towards the Pacific basin.
The Buenaventura port is the largest merchandise export and import venue in Colombia, ranked as the second largest customs revenue generator in the country, excluding hydrocarbons and carbon. Buenaventura manages 35% of Colombia’s international trade, while Cartagena manages 30%. The region is the main source of diesel fuel, and ranked as the second region with lowest road transit density in Colombia. Ecotourism, including nature and adventure tourism amount to over 40% of its tourism; the Pacific has 7,492,471.04 hectares of tropical forest (15% at the national level), 584,297.01 hectares of moorlands (20% at the national level), and 194,880 hectares of mangrove forests (68.8% at the national level)
The Pacific region has developed and continues to foster the growth of a highly enterprising business sector. This is the backdrop in which the public and private sectors have joined forces as a reflection of its society, and as the means to maximize its capabilities and turn it into a noteworthy, leading development pole.
This is the region where the Foundation for the Integral Development of the Pacific Region, FDI Pacífico, and other public and private actors and agents endeavor to weave development in order to positively effect changes in the social imaginary, overcome conflict, and reduce existing poverty rates and socio-economic gaps between the region and the country at large. The foregoing through the rational use of its biodiversity, logistics, industrial and ports potential, and its progressive integration with the country at large, with Asia and the Pacific basin, so as to impact upon the improvement of the living conditions of the population at large.