[International Conference] “Opportunities, risks and challenges of tropical glacier retreat and the integrated water resource management for economic recovery in the new world context”.”

Nine billion tons of ice have been lost from the world’s glaciers in the last 50 years. Learn about the highlights of the conversation in the following note:

The webinar was attended by representatives of the Ministry of the Environment, ANA, INAIGEM, the Cusco regional government (GORE), GORE Ancash, the University of Zurich, SDC, Care Peru and representatives of agencies that work on the issue of climate change. It presented the lessons learned from the project Glaciers +, a year after its completion, and tells of progress made and challenges still posed for development that is resilient in the face of climate change in the glacial basins in the Andes.

On 16 October, on the 50th anniversary of Care Peru, the international conference “Opportunities, risks and challenges of tropical glacier retreat and integrated water resource management for economic recovery in the new world context” was held. The event looked at some of the results of the Glaciers + Programme held with the University of Zurich and the technical and financial support of Swiss Cooperation (SDC). It was also an opportunity for government, academia and civil society representatives to discuss the current situation and to identify opportunities, risks and challenges in the face of glacial retreat and water resource management in a process of economic recovery for Peru.

Marilú Martens, national director of CARE Peru, opened the event. She shared the stage with Juan Echanove, coordinator of CARE International’s International Water Resources Programme and Gabriel Quijandría, Vice-minister of the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment.

“As a country and as an agency, we are committed to building together opportunities for dialogue, research and exchanging information, for building innovative and sustainable solutions, which sets Peru on the road to managing climate change, by developing adaptation capacity with climate justice,” said Martens.

Marilu Martens, national director of CARE Peru

Juan Echanove, coordinator of CARE International’s International Water Resources Programme, highlighted the contribution of Glaciers+ to improving knowledge, monitoring and research on glacial retreat. He highlighted that “it strengthened the surrounding communities, with tools for adaptation to climate change and for managing those risks”, which helped create the institutional conditions for ensuring the sustainability of activities for tackling glacier retreat.

Juan Echanove, coordinator of CARE International’s International Water Resources Programme

Gabriel Quijandría, Minam’s Vice-Minister of Strategic Development of Natural Resources, said “We have to be prepared for this new scenario, aggravated by the pandemic, we have an opportunity to connect again with nature (…) find solutions based on nature and be able to face the challenges that climate change will pose”. “The work carried out with Switzerland through this project is fundamental. How to link academia, decision makers and local communities to make decisions, find solutions and new intervention models (…) we need to see how to incorporate the private sector, how to make them part of the solution”, he emphasized.

To talk about climate change is to talk about climate justice and the search for a more sustainable world. The conversation is the result of joint work and an alliance of more than eight years’ work with the Glaciares+ project, which has been an important focus on Peru’s mountain ecosystems. The event was an opportunity to have a better understanding of the situation of the glaciers and the impacts of climate change on them, but also of the opportunities for adaptation to reduce the vulnerability and risks that we all face due to de-glaciation, water loss and the environmental risks that this entails. The Webinar had two panels. Here we share the highlights of each of them.

PANEL 1. “Opportunities and risks of glacier retreat, and water resources in the current context”, moderated by Randy Muñoz, researcher at the University of Zurich.

Fabian Drenkhan, researcher at the University of Zurich and the PUCP, highlighted the issue of the uncertainties that exist about “Peak Flow” and when we might be going beyond this point.

Jorge Luis Ceballos, researcher at IDEAM Colombia, commented on the initiatives to “deglaciate” glaciers, not only in terms of numbers but how to bring the community closer to the glaciers. Finally, Alejo Cochachin, specialist from ANA – Huaraz and Victor Bustinza, director of INAGEM Cusco, shared the work in course in Peru on deglaciation risk management, and the opportunities that arise through multipurpose projects. Subsequently, Victor Bustinza said that in the last few months -in the midst of the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic- the glacier monitoring in the Cusco region by INAIGEM reported three glacier detachments, which might have been more dangerous, had it not been for the quick reaction of INAIGEM professional staff.

PANEL 2. “Challenges to integrating glacial retreat opportunities and risks and water resources in the current context”. This panel was moderated by Jocelyn Ostolaza, SDC National Programme Officer.

Nelson Santillan, from the National Water Authority, reflected on the need to know more about downstream demands in the basin, and asked key questions that define the work ahead, by academics and researchers. Cristina Rodríguez, from the Ministry of the Environment, spoke on the ministry’s work to promote the NDCs and climate action with a multi-level, multi-sector and multi-actor approach, highlighting the measures developed for working and responding to the challenges in high mountain areas related to glacial retreat. Edwin Mansilla, from the GORE Cusco, called for stronger disaster risk management and reduction systems, highlighting the round tables implemented to date and the need to continue working to develop dialogue and meet these new challenges. He also highlighted the role and value of wetlands, calling for them not to be forgotten and for a commitment to green infrastructure, which should be a priority in future action and investment in these ecosystems.

Mariluz Romero worked on the Glaciares+ project, and from her experience in Ancash, reflected on communication and how important it is to be able to move from data collection to social, policy and academic action. She emphasized the importance of sharing and building this together with a multi-sectorial perspective, as protagonists in action. She also spoke of the importance of working in schools, and mentioned the relationship children have with these ecosystems.

Martin Jaggi, Director of the Swiss Cooperation (SDC), closed the webinar and congratulated Care Peru on its 50th anniversary. He stressed that for many years it has been one of SDC’s key partners. “In climate change, glacier retreat and the pandemic, we are facing global and environmental challenges, and therefore it is of key importance to lobby for environmental policies to be given priority on public agendas and to find sustainable solutions”.

In this new context of the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the process of economic reactivation, “it is an opportunity for measures to be environmentally friendly, leaving aside the old forms of economic activation based on hydrocarbons”. He stressed the importance of the Paris Agreement, which obliges all States that have ratified and signed the agreement to seek and implement long-term strategies based on renewable energies. “All States have a great challenge to divest from carbon investment and commit to green investment to benefit the environment,” he emphasized.

More on Glaciares+

This is an initiative of Swiss-Peruvian cooperation in the framework of the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development’s Global Programme on Climate Change and Environment, implemented by the University of Zurich and CARE Peru consortium, partnering with the Ministry of Environment, ANA, CENEPRED, and the regional governments of Cusco, Ancash and Lima. Glaciares+ promoted forums for disseminating and consolidating the adaptation approach based on multipurpose projects on a national and regional Andean scale, identifying the conditions needed for them to be implemented, and the challenges, opportunities and strategies.

Links of interest
Website Proyecto Glaciares
Fact sheet – Glaciares+, Embassy of Switzerland, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)

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La Agencia Suiza para el Desarrollo y la Cooperación (COSUDE) es la entidad encargada de la cooperación internacional dentro del Departamento Federal de Asuntos Exteriores (DFAE). Con otras oficinas de la Confederación, la COSUDE es responsable de la coordinación general de la cooperación para el desarrollo y de la cooperación con los Países del Este, así como de los programas de ayuda humanitaria suizos.