Latin American authorities meet in Bogota to discuss how to adapt regional infrastructure to climate change
- Thirty experts from Latin America, Asia, United States and Europe were invited by CAF to discuss the problem.
- First think tank on infrastructure for climate change announced.
(Bogota, July 6, 2012).- About 300 people from various countries attended the Infrastructure for Climate Change seminar, organized by CAF - development bank of Latin America - to discuss the most effective way to build infrastructure systems in the short, medium and long term, adapting to the new environmental conditions caused by climate changes which are having a social and economic impact around the world, particularly in Latin America where levels of vulnerability are high.
In the last decade, the American continent has suffered 922 natural disasters costing 247,000 lives. Although it was the second continent most affected by disasters after Asia, the Americas have suffered most economic damage (46% compared with the rest of the world). This is why the financial institution organized this seminar to discuss the priorities of risk management and strategies of adaptation to climate change which need to be promoted to guarantee sustainable conditions in the developing countries of the region.
CAF invited experts from Asia, Latin America, Europe and the United States who contributed their expertise in managing the risks associated with natural phenomena and identified the need to create better conditions for adapting infrastructure to climate change. Participants were told of the lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina in the United States, the tsunami in Japan and the earthquake in Chile, cases presented by the people directly involved in the management and recovery from these disasters.
CAF president & CEO Enrique Garcia noted the need to increase investment in infrastructure as a key factor for development in the context of the challenges posed by climate uncertainty. Given the increased in natural disasters in the last decade, he stressed the importance of rethinking the infrastructure of the future, how interventions are planned, evaluated and executed, in an effort to create greater economic, social and environmental value.
In his message to the seminar, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos emphasized the importance of experts coming to Colombia to share their experiences on how to plan, build and maintain the infrastructure needed to meet the irreversible reality of climate change. Environment and Sustainable Development Minister Frank Pearl announced the government's efforts to formulate an environment and development policy as a platform for defining more integrated and sustainable interventions.
"Along with appreciating CAF’s interest in promoting analysis and discussion on this fundamental issue, I reaffirm the National Government’s commitment to building the infrastructure that really prepares us for the contingencies of climate change. All your insights and suggestions are more than welcome," President Santos added.
Transport Minister Miguel Penaloza stressed the importance of returning to systemic analysis as the basis for decision making on infrastructure, and recognized that - in future - investments would have to be evaluated more strategically in way that minimizes environmental impacts, reduces risk factors and improves the conditions of adaptation to climate change.
The creation of a Think Tank on Infrastructure for Climate Change was announced at the seminar. The new body will be a forum for reflection and ongoing consultation by national and international experts. It will also support governments in the region with the plans and projects needed to find effective solutions to deal with this environment situation.
Gregory Asner, Energy Climate Fellow at the US State Department - one of the international experts who spoke at the seminar - said Colombia and the Amazon were the territories in the world where the most drastic changes were taking place, where new climate scenarios are expected in the coming decades.
This new situation, he added, means we have to rethink the ways we intervene in the territory considering the need to conserve forests and biodiversity as natural regulators and guarantees for creating conditions of resilience that protect infrastructure and improve the conditions of adaptation. This challenge needs a stronger commitment from policymakers, natural resource specialists, planners and scientists.
For more details on the Seminar and the expert presentations go to: http://eventos.caf.com/infraestructura-cambio-climatico