In accordance with the mission-related functions assigned to the then Ministry of the Environment by Law 99 of 1993, and later to the Ministry of the Environment, Housing and Territorial Development by Decree-Law 216 of 2003, the Directorate of Sustainable Sector Development (DDSS) is responsible for proposing policies, coordinating strategies and defining technical bases for the regulatory processes undertaken to prevent and control environmental damage, promote and strengthen the environmental management of productive sectors, and guarantee the incorporation of environmental variables in the decision-making processes of the public and private sectors.
Its function is to promote and guide the adoption of sustainability criteria in the activities of the productive and institutional sectors, achieving the incorporation of environmental management systems, technology restructuring and changes in consumption patterns, among other things, for the purpose of improving environmental quality, making rational use of natural resources, protecting the environment and improving the quality of life of all Colombians.
In this context, the activities of the Directorate are aimed at generating an environmental management framework focused on the tasks of conserving, improving, protecting and making proper use of natural resources and the environment, supported by the following:
1. Legal or regulatory provisions by which the State establishes the maximum allowable level of pollutants on the basis of technical-scientific, economic and social data, so as to protect the environment and citizens, especially their health and their future.
2. Sector environmental policies, by means of which the Ministry of the Environment guides the productive sectors and the Colombian state toward the fulfillment of the proposed sustainable economic development objectives, based on mutual agreements between the public and private sectors.
3. Economic policies directed at the institutionalization of economic incentives that seek to encourage the productive sector to invest in the improvement of the environment as a way to make their products more efficient and competitive in the market.
4. Sector management instruments, including the implementation of the National Cleaner Production Policy, which seeks to make efficient use of natural resources with specific goals and scope, through the use of tools such as coordination agreements for cleaner production, inter-institutional environmental agendas, an environmental excellence recognition program, pilot projects, technical assistance through regional cleaner production nodes, tax incentives, environmental guides and technology restructuring.
The Directorate also manages the channeling of international cooperation resources in order to make diagnoses and implement measures in sectors related to international markets for hazardous products whose release affects both local ecosystems and the global environment.
This work includes the management of chemical substances known to be hazardous to human and environmental health under international standards (for example, Persistent Organic Pollutants - POPs); products whose release contributes to the depletion of the ozone layer (Ozone Depleting Substances - ODS), and hazardous wastes controlled at an international level. The Directorate has made progress in applying measures to control commercial transboundary movements of these wastes, and in promoting the management and elimination of products that the world has agreed should be replaced.
In accordance with Resolution 0997 of June 7, 2007, the Directorate has been organized into the following work groups for the purpose of fulfilling its management mission:
The Environmental Policy, Regulation and Quality Group.
The Sectoral Environmental Management Group.
The Technical Ozone Unit.
The Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures Group.
Based on the foregoing, and within the framework of the new structure of the State and the 2007-2010 National Development Plan, "A Community State, Development for All", the Directorate provides fundamental support and serves as an essential link in the effort to comply with the goals of promoting Sustainable Economic Growth (promoting hydrocarbon and mining exploration and production; housing and construction; science, technology and innovation; competitiveness and development; trade policy; environmental sustainability; and the generation of employment); the Building of Social Equity (promoting the Solidarity Economy; Rural Social Management; development of MIPYMES (micro, small and medium enterprises) and environmental health), through the development of regional and sector potentialities.The reader can obtain a more detailed description of the Ministry''s actions with respect to this subject of transcendental importance for the country and society in general, from the document "Construcción de una propuesta para la gestión ambiental sectorial orientada a las nuevas tendencias del desarrollo sostenible" ["Construction of a Proposal for Sectoral Environmental Management Directed at New Trends in Sustainable Development"].