Intercultural and participatory solutions for Canaima National Park, Venezuela
“This is a unique event in Venezuela, promoting intercultural and participatory approaches to climate change governance”. These were the words of Vice-minister for Ecosocialista del Ambiente, Renzo Silva, at the opening of the workshop ‘Desarrollo de herramientas interculturales y participativas para la implementación de planes de mitigación y adaptación al cambio climático en el Parque Nacional Canaima’ at the Cuartel Central de Bomberos Florestales de INPARQUES, Pajaritos, Caracas.
Venezuela is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and the Second Communication on Climate Change, presented in November, highlights how current forest cover is helping towards mitigation. Canaima National Park is a critical area; as well as containing a large proportion of Venezuela’s standing forest, it also contributes to maintaining water levels as part of the Caroní Basin which produces 70% of Venezuela’s electricity. Pedro Borges, climate change scientist from IVIC and Paris Agreement climate change negotiator explains “academia has an important role to play, but it’s critical to have a respectful dialogue with Indigenous, traditional and local knowledge, and integrate these into climate change policies”.
The Indigenous Pemón living in Canaima National Park are key actors for climate change mitigation and adaptation in Canaima National Park. Indigenous lands are increasingly recognised by the United Nations Environment Programme and global climate change scientists, to significantly contribute to maintaining carbon stocks and enhancing biodiversity. Humberto Chani, community leader from Kavanayén said “We are very happy to have this opportunity to exchange knowledge and have recognition and respect of how our culture is important for fighting climate change”.
The high level workshop brought together Venezuela’s leading scientists, government authorities, and Indigenous leaders in a series of capacity building activities to effectively implement action plans and support local solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Training in understanding basic climate science, mapping institutional climate change networks, and exploring local solutions for climate change, enabled participants to develop proposals for the UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme on the themes of food security, water management, biodiversity, fire management and socio-productive activities.
These proposals were presented on the last day of the workshop, and will be submitted to the Small Grants Programme for funding. Bibiana Bilbao of Universidad Simon Bolivar and Jay Mistry of Royal Holloway University of London and the Cobra Collective concluded “over 40 people participated in the training and we are extremely happy with the positive approach of the participants to intercultural and participatory climate change planning and policy development for Canaima National Park. We hope that Indigenous knowledge will play a greater role in the Third Climate Change National Communication for Venezuela”.
For media coverage of the event, please see the following:
Bibiana Bilbao is Professor at the Department of Environmental Studies, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Venezuela. Her research is on tropical savannas, fire ecology, biogeochemical cycles and vegetation change. She has also a long professional experience working on ecological and human dimensions of fire management with Indigenous communities in tropical ecosystems of Venezuela, particularly the Pemón of the Canaima National Park. She is willing to further the development of more effective, socially just and culturally sensitive policies for intercultural and participatory governance of Integrated Fire Management (MIF) in Venezuela, Brazil and other countries of South America such as Bolivia and Argentina.