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FEATURE: Postcard from Cancun – The future of forests in Latin America

The air was crackling as Virgilio Viana, a Director of the Fundação Amazonas Sustentável, Brazil , threw down a challenge to Latin American participants at a CDKN-sponsored side event yesterday. At the event on ‘Voices of Latin America: Regional and Amazonian Initiatives on Climate Change and REDD’, Viana said: ‘Latin America should not have a position of servitude to international negotiations. We always react. We need to have a vision and to lead rather than react to them.’

One of the evening’s themes was taking responsibility for climate action across society. Viana’s comments came after forceful presentations from Maria Eugenia di Paola and Yan Speranza of the Latin American Platform on Climate on what was needed to truly integrate climate and development issues across Latin America. CDKN’s Latin American work is led by Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (FFLA), which is also the Secretariat to the Latin American Platform on Climate.

Despite having 180 million people in poverty and so being highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, Latin American policy making does not yet adequately take climate change into account across sectors, Speranza and di Paola argued. Such integration not only requires visionary leadership from politicians and businesspeople, but also an outcry from citizens. We will really see change in policies and action, Viana added, when citizens put their votes behind green issues.

Di Paola and Speranza highlighted the role of academia, alongside policy makers and broader civil society in planning for and delivering climate compatible development. Links among the policy, academic and grassroots communities can bridge the gaps between science, policy and action.

‘Bridging the gaps between science, policy and action’ could perhaps be a motto for CDKN. Our research workstream will bring more evidence to bear on the links between climate change and development; our technical assistance and knowledge-sharing/partnership work will strengthen policy making and help translate ideas into action.



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