2013: DAPA looks forward to fruitful cooperation with Colombia’s Amazon authorities
On December 20, Carolina Navarrete Frías, DAPA’s coordinator, travelled to Colombia’s Amazon department to meet with the departmental governor and two of his advisers. The aim was to present a project named Attaining Sustainable Services from Ecosystems through trade-off Scenarios (ASSETS) and link it with the government’s activities.
The ASSETS project, funded by Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA), aims to quantify the linkages between ecosystem services that affect – and are affected by – food security and nutritional health for the rural poor at the point where forests and farming meet – known as the forestry-agriculture interface. It focuses on Malawi and Colombia, two countries that share some common characteristics: they are both subject to climate change and deforestation and face problems of extreme poverty, inequality and malnutrition.
The focus area of the project in Colombia is the upper and lower Caquetá (Caquetá and Amazonía departments). The target group includes ten indigenous and two non-indigenous communities, and comprises approximately 270 to 280 households. These communities practice slash-and-burn agriculture, hunting and fishing, in addition to collecting certain types of fruits from the forest. Commercial hunting and fishing is an activity that has been growing in the region.
Talking to the governor’s advisers, Ms Navarrete Frías emphasized that DAPA wishes to work very closely with the regional authorities and have them use all the science findings produced by the project to improve the environmental management for poverty alleviation, to increase food security in the region, and to draft more informed public policies.
The governor and his advisers showed much interest in our undertakings and welcomed our efforts to provide socio-economic analysis within local communities. Emphasising their consciousness for the sustainable use of natural resources, they seemed surprised by the lack of enthusiasm of local communities for participatory activities.
According to the governor, his main concern for the region is food security. As mining, and particularly illegal mining, present a major obstacle for the sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystem services in the region, he is currently supporting a campaign called Amazon without Hunger. He also raised the concern that rural populations no longer grow their own food and thus depend on food sources deriving from elsewhere, which represents a major threat to food security.
The regional development plan has already been finished, yet the governor would truly appreciate DAPA’s input to help strengthening their work plan on food security as of 2013. He is eager to draft new policies on food security and sustainable development, with consultation tables starting in January next year. He invited DAPA to be present when these events unfold as to provide more space for science within the development of these new policies. The governor also stressed the importance of developing a regional policy for the Amazon that emphasises on environmental issues.
The governor is also very interested in the economic and non-economic valuation of ecosystem services because they provide and important input to the development of conservation strategies.
The meeting presented a major milestone for the project as both DAPA and the local authorities can benefit from closer cooperation, which represents a stronger link between science and policy. With that in mind, scientists and policymakers alike can share their efforts to overcome extreme poverty and protect the Amazon for future generations.