FEATURE: Andrea Guerrero of Colombia takes Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) out of ‘green silo’
CDKN celebrates the work of the winners of the Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) annual awards. Andrea Guerrero of Colombia was nominated by her peers and chosen by the judges as a winner for the ‘Acting on Implementation’ category. Here, Cathryn Poff catches up with Andrea and finds out how she’s used her position with the Ministry of Environment of Colombia to break out of the ‘green silo’ and inspire others.
Andrea Guerrero’s work for the Colombian government has taken her deep into the realities of her country facing climate change. She started the Colombian Low Carbon Development Strategy, helping create capacity for mitigation actions. That process that has been emulated by many countries. And for her, it’s all part of the job. “I started in the Ministry of Environment so that’s the place where people are thinking about [climate change],” she says. “And I come from biological sciences. So it was a natural thing … and trying to think how that could become appealing and interesting to sectors, and sort of take the green label off of it and try to get people to think about it as an efficiency and productivity issue and a co-benefit issue. So that’s been kind of my inspiration.”
The Colombian government started taking low emission strategies seriously after the Cancun COP. “We suddenly started seeing that many developing countries were putting commitments… on the table,” explains Guerrero. “We saw that we were terribly unprepared to so because we hadn’t analysed which were smart actions for the country to take to lower emissions and at the same time gain more efficiency, productivity, etcetera. So we started working on the low carbon development strategy.”
Guerrero’s work has figured prominently in her country’s low emission development planning. And she sees the work of her team as one element of a heightened awareness in government and the general public about climate change in Colombia. “Before, they thought, well they didn’t know what it was or they thought it was a tree-hugger thing, a green issue,” Guerrero says. “And now more and more they’re realising that it’s an economic issue, something that can be to their advantage as well. And you see ministers of mines and energy, ministers of transport, talking about it and mentioning it in their speeches and including climate change issues in their planning, so I think it’s had a great impact.”
She believes it’s critical for all countries to work on low emission strategies. “I think it needs to be the path that countries take,” she says. “Because if we don’t all do it, it becomes a race to the bottom instead of to the top. Because if your neighbour’s not doing it, you’re kind of saying why do I have to do it if they don’t have to do it? And then competitively it doesn’t make sense. And so it all kind of tumbles down if there’s not a worldwide commitment to this.”
Guerrero and her colleagues believe a critical part of their work comes in the aftermath, sharing their experiences with other governments to assist them in their planning. They have imparted their lessons learned to governments as diverse as Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. “We shared experiences, the things that went well and the things that didn’t so much,” she remarks. “We’ve shared them with quite a few countries.”
Winning the LEDS GP award was a pleasant surprise for Guerrero. “It was very moving for me that people thought I contributed. It wasn’t of course just me [who did the work]. It was the team we had at the ministry and the people that have worked on it from [other] programs and from all the ministries have been amazing, people who are completely devoted to this. So that they considered that I helped build it is really special to me. So I was very happy.”
CDKN now helps run the Secretariat of the Low Emission Development Strategies Global Partnership: visit www.ledsgp.org for more peer-to-peer knowledge exchange and access to technical advice.