Guatemala y su vulnerabilidad ante el cambio climatico – Guatemala’s vulnerability to climate change

(eng translation below)

El pasado mes de agosto 2016 se celebró en Guatemala el Encuentro sobre Agricultura Orgánica y adaptación al Cambio Climático. En dicho encuentro hubo varias disertaciones sobre los temas, destacando desde el interés nacional, el tema de la vulnerabilidad ante el Cambio Climático que amenaza al país, expuesto por Roberto Cáceres del Centro Mesoamericano de Estudios sobre Tecnología Apropiada –CEMAT-. El conferencista expuso que la vulnerabilidad configura la débil e insuficiente capacidad de adaptación y resiliencia, condicionada por factores sociales (pobreza de más del 50% de la población, alta desnutrición), económicos (baja carga presupuestaria, insuficiente crecimiento económico e inversión), físicos (zona de riesgo sísmico e hidrometeorológico), ambientales (creciente contaminación y deforestación) e institucionales (fallas recurrentes de las instituciones y crecimiento de corrupción y la cooptación).

Según, Global Climate Risk Index (2014), Guatemala ocupa la posición 9 en el mundo en vulnerabilidad, ya que cumple con todas la condiciones que la predisponen y exponen al impacto negativo de un fenómeno físico destructor,  con baja capacidad para reponerse después de un desastre. Tal como lo comprueban los últimos diez años de eventos hidrometeorológicos extremos, que dejaron daños y perdidas económicas e impactos sociales y ambientales, principalmente en las comunidades rurales y que a nivel de país significaron pérdida del 3% del PIB.

El Cambio Climático ha venido a potenciar las vulnerabilidades del país, con ubicación geográfica de alto riesgo hidrometeorológico, con secuelas de sequias, inundaciones, huracanes con su consiguiente degradación del suelo, erosión, deslaves, destrucción de biodiversidad, falta de disponibilidad alimentaria que genera  graves impactos en la alimentación y nutrición, produciendo el aumento de la pobreza con las consecuencias de desnutrición, baja escolaridad, disolución familiar y del tejido social. También toca destacar que la Vulnerabilidad  política-institucional es un factor que viene a afectar y a profundizar el problema, debido a los actos de corrupción que han caracterizado, con el desmantelamiento del Estado, así como la baja capacidad de respuesta, una institucionalidad crecientemente débil y una vulnerabilidad jurídica frente a amenazas delictivas.

La conclusión del evento indica que el calentamiento global debido a los GEI no es el único problema del Cambio Climatico que enfrenta Guatemala, también están las condiciones locales como el uso extractivista y de pérdida del suelo y la deforestación, que a su alta tasa actual pueden conducir a condiciones más secas y cálidas para el país, lo que dificulta nuestra condiciones de adaptabilidad.

 

GUATEMALA’S VULNERABILITY TO CLIMATE CHANGE 

In august a meeting on organic farming and adaptation to climate change was held in Guatemala. In this meeting there were several discussions held on the topics, departing from a national interest, such as the vulnerability to climate change, by Roberto Cáceres from Central American Center of Studies on Appropriate Technology – CEMAT. The lecturer let us know that the vulnerability of Guatemala gives it a weak and insufficient capacity for adaptation and resilience to climate changes. This vulnerability is determined by social factors (poverty among more than 50 % of the population and malnutrition), economic factors (low budgets, insufficient economic growth and investments), physical factors (Guatemala is in an area of seismic risk), environmental (increasing contamination and deforestation) and institutional (failures of institutions and growth of corruption and cooptation).

According to Global Climate Risk Index (2014), Guatemala holds 9th position in the world in vulnerability, because it meets all the conditions that predispose and exposes it to the negative impact of natural disasters, with low capacity to recover after such a disaster. The last ten years of extreme weather, has left severe damage as well as economic, social and environmental losses, mainly in rural communities and country level, and meant a loss of 3% of the GDP.

The climate change has come to promote the vulnerabilities of the country, at a geographical setting with high hydrometeorological risk, with aftermaths of droughts, floods, hurricanes which bring consequences such as soil degradation, erosions, destruction of biodiversity, endangered food security that generates serious impacts in nutrition. This, in turn leads to an increasing poverty with the consequences of malnourishment, low education and a dissolution of family and the societal fabric. Mr Cáceres of CEMAT also emphasizes that that the political and institutional vulnerability are factors that affect and deepen the problem of lack of possibilities for resilience and adaptation. These are a reality due to acts of corruption, a dismantling of the state and a low responsiveness together with increasingly weak institutions and legal vulnerability to criminal threats.

The conclusion of the event indicates that the global warming due to green house gas emissions is not the only problem of climate change that Guatemala faces. There are also the local conditions that adds to the vulnerability such as the extraction of natural resources and the deforestation and loss of soil, which can lead to drier and warmer conditions for the country, which makes it even more difficult for Guatemala to adapt to the changes lying ahead.

/Matilde Baján

Project coordinator at CEMAT; Centro Mesoamericano de Estudios sobre Tecnología Apropiada 

 

Green Forum at the heart of the African Greens Success Story

It was during the Second Global Greens Congress in April-May 2008 which took place in Sao Paulo-Brazil, that Green Forum Sweden recommitted itself in support the African Greens Network, as it was called then. Previous efforts in West Africa and East Africa had not been successful and this was a serious cause for concern, since without the continent of Africa, there would not be a Global Greens Movement.

After the Global Greens Congress in Brazil, Rwanda Green Society submitted a project proposal to Green Forum, which would help to unite all Greens in different parts of Africa, and as well establish a Green political federation, comprising of political parties and political movements.

The first activities were held in Benin, Morocco and Tunisia, it was later decided to hold an African Greens Movement, preparatory meeting in Benin, which was attended by 13 countries from East, South, North, Central and Western Africa. This prep meeting took place in June 2009, it was agreed that the founding congress for establishing the African Greens Federation would be held in Kampala, Uganda in April 2010.

Indeed, in April 2010, Green Forum supported this founding congress and 23 countries were present and a political federation was officially established and leadership elected. The African Greens Charter was also adopted. This Congress was also attended by the Secretary General of the European Greens Federation and a representative of Green Forum. The diversity of different cultures, languages and national political dynamics has been a source of our strength.

There has been tremendous growth and success after the official establishment, the Federation officially got registered as an international political Association in June 2012 in Burkina Faso, West Africa and a continental secretariat was established and launched immediately after. The federation was also able to host the Third Global Greens Congress in Dakar, Senegal in April 2012. This was not an easy task but when people are united they can really achieve a lot.

The federation went into its second growth phase and established five regional federations, which are:

  • the Southern Africa Greens Federation bringing together Madagascar, Mauritius, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Angola.
  • the North African Greens Federation, bringing together, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Libya and South Sudan
  • the East African Greens Federation, bringing together, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Burundi
  • the Central African Greens Federation, bringing together, Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa Republic, Gabon and the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)
  • and the West African Greens Federation, bringing together, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Togo, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Guinea Conakry.

The Africa Green Federation has 29 member countries, and several member parties are participating in national elections, some have won seats in parliaments and local governments. Others have been appointed ministers. The green vision is getting stronger. Green Forum has played a key role in achieving this success story.

The Federation has now entered its third growth stage, which is strengthening this regional networks and make them able to support member countries.  It has also got new partners, the Green Party of England and Wales/West Minister Foundation for Democracy and the Belgian Green Party (Groen), whom have committed to supporting both East Africa and West Africa respectively.

The journey is still long, but we are very proud of what we achieved and how far we have come from. All this could not have been achieved without the tremendous support of Green Forum Sweden and several partners. We hope more will be achieved in the coming years as we consolidate the regional federations and move to the fourth growth stage.  We are putting more focus now on participation and winning general elections and have seats in Local Government structures, national Governments and national Parliaments.

/Frank Habineza 

President, Democratic Green Party of Rwanda

President African Greens Federation

Honorary Doctorate in Democracy and Human Rights, Bethel collage, USA 

Somewhere over the rainbow – First LGBT minister in Serbian government

On 24th April Serbia held extraordinary elections, third general elections in 4 years.  Frequency of the elections is such that it’s hard to call them extra-ordinary any more. As same parties won more or less same percentage and carriers of the lists are more or less the same as in last 15 years, it really seems that attribute of extraordinary is completely overrates.

But than, on 11th of August PM announced new government[1] and something extraordinary did happened.  As it goes in last years, we have two types of ministers. Ministers who are there by political line. We all know their names and competences do not matter that much as in every government they get to be ministers of different sector. Other group are ministers that are served to public as the experts in their sphere; whose competences we are supposed to blindly trust and everyone have hard time remembering their name (at least until the first scandal).

Ana Brnabić, despite being from the 2nd group of ministers was the one whose name got to the press immediately. She has not been yet in the office properly and her competences were already scanned within tiniest detail. Did I say competences?? Oh, sorry I meant personal life. New minister of public administration and local governance is, by the words of the Prime minister himself, member of the LGBT community.

Prime minister was on a top of the task and started casual damsel in distress defense. He explained that she admitted it to him and that she was ready to step down if it’s a problem – with the rhetoric of toddler that do something bad, who decides to admit it to the parents and hope to be released from punishment for the honesty. I guess we should all conclude how our PM is so generous and smart to put good of the government and her competences over something personal and obviously less worthy. He also added that she is LGBT but she is nice and lovely. Does this mean that others are not? Is nice and lovely opposite of what LGBT people are, so that we need to make sure that public understands that she is both?  He closed his defense by saying that he stands behind his choice (as she is the right person because he picked her and not because of her competences).

I do not want to take historical moment away. Yes, it is huge step for LGBT community in Serbia to have lesbian minister.  But as we saw on the example of women in politics, having vice-president of the government does not mean that women are now equally participating in political life.  That is why we should greet new minister and wish her all the luck in her new work, for the sake of her, for the sake of LGBT population and Serbian local governance as being her responsibility.

But we should not be deceived that this puts human rights in Serbia on any higher level.  Justice, health, education, labor still do not treat LGBT as equal, their basic freedoms are still limited and there is constant treat of different forms of violence over them. In country with high recession, soaring national debt, shady privatizations, high corruption index, limited media freedom and heavy austerity measures social rights are shrinking in their outreach and power.

Having an LGBT minister is important, however in society of limited public recognition every outed individual bears pressure of and responsibility for whole community. This means that her work in spheres of local governance is going to be under the load of her LGBT profile as well, as much as LGBT community will have now to take load of her ministerial work.

There has already been meeting with her and LGBT organizations, as one of few Governmental meetings to discuss LGBT rights. But we must name things as they are. Yes we have LGBT minister but her work lies in different domain and she has no jurisdiction over social issues. Such bridging of responsibilities within Ministries is neither feasible to her as individual, nor as Minister, nor its realistic. So until Prime minister, responsible ministries and state apparatus stand with and behind LGBT community in their black on white demands and proposal on legislations changes and investments, in at least tolerant if not solidarity based society, we should not rush to greet new Serbian government for being so inclusive and moving under the rainbow.

/Vesna Jusup 

Works with member relations at the European Green Party secretariat 

Former project leader at Cooperation and Development Network of Eastern Europe

 

[1] Small reminder on previous text on this blog; this government has 5 out of 20 Ministers (including PM), not event fulfilling 30% quota of women participation. By the time text is written we still do not know final convolution of the Parliament, but hopes to move step further in equal participation are very low and non-extraordinary.