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The project is entitled San Benito Eco Efficient Industrial Park and Centre of Excellence (or PECES for its Spanish acronym). The project brings together for the first time the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship, as well as the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development and the Department of Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Reading. In the UK the team also includes the University of Northampton and the University of Surrey. In Colombia, the Universidad de la Sabana, the Municipality of Bogota and business association as well as the residents of San Benito complete the multi-stakeholder team.  

PECES will address the challenge of economic development against environmental protection. Colombia has identified the area of San Benito in Bogota as one in need of a holistic approach to tackle the conflicting interests of the industries (tanneries) and formal and informal settlements while protecting the river and the ecosystem that it supports.

Current studies show links between tanneries’ waste (containing chrome and acid) and health problems on the local population, loss of river wildlife and floods. To deliver economic development while protecting the environment in the area, this project brings innovation and capacity building in sustainable leather technologies, and creative approaches to social mobilisation for participatory urban upgrading and environmental management. This will be done by developing: (i) Cooperative of Tanners and Centre of Excellence, (ii) Urban Upgrading Plan, (iii) River Management Plan.

The project starts in April 2016 and will run until 2018.