6966 Ecologies on the Edge: The Tropical and Arid Land Perspectives

Saturday, February 18, 2012: 2:00 PM
Room 213 (VCC West Building)
Miriam Duailibi , Ecoar Institute for Citizenship, São Paulo, Brazil

“The global challenge of climate change: the outlook for vulnerable communities”

It is necessary to build global networks so that civil society, academia and governments can form a critical mass to create adaptation solutions for communities’ geographic, social, cultural, and economic vulnerabilities to global warming. We need policies to confront the risk of global warming and to work within the scope of international, regional, and national agreements to allocate funds to adaptation efforts for poor communities, whose populations are always the first and most affected victims of climate change.

Human-caused climate change is the result of one model of civilization, which in the long term is based on values and principles that are against nature. This way of life is bringing our biosphere to the point of dangerous disequilibrium, where it might not be able to sustain the existence of our species any longer. 

Scientifically, we already know that even if life—understood as all organisms combined—is not immediately threatened by extinction, there is certain to be an enormous reduction in its diversity, which will add to the risk of life’s survival, as well as degrading the quality of life for the large part of humanity.

The semiarid regions of the Brazilian Northeast are being severely hit by these changes. Despite this, NGOs, in partnership with universities and public entities, are taking actions that are gaining ground and improving the quality of life of communities in these areas.

In Brazil, the restoration of traditional agricultural techniques and water management solutions for the retention and storing of water have improved the lives of many rural citizens, particularly women. However, stronger actions are needed to improve and expand these programs and their benefits.

However, there has been little discussion on how to confront and prevent the effects of climate change on low-income communities, such as favellas. Their citizens are constantly the victims of flood-caused landslides, which affect public health due to the migration of vector-borne diseases; the floods cause horrible sanitation conditions, and sources of potable water are disrupted.

Innovative social technologies have come about from an understanding of local communities, integrated with science, to bring simple, low-cost solutions, which can effectively resolve problems that afflict poor populations in the entire world.