Maria Cecília Alvarado, Vice-President of Azuay, attended the 2017 General Assembly meeting and participated in the alongside Conference on Climate Adaptation “Islands: lands of innovative solutions for all territories”. In the framework of the mentioned events, nrg4SD had the opportunity to hold the following interview:
nrg4SD: Azuay was recently appointed as President for the South of nrg4SD. What moved you to apply to the post and how does Azuay face such challenge?
MCA: To us, Azuay, and especially to me in my position as Vice-President of Azuay, the environment protection is our main cause. We aim to ensure that our development model, our vision as a Province, includes a strong environmental mark. It was precisely for that reason that we started our collaboration within the nrg4SD. Indeed, creating bonds with other likeminded regional governments is crucial to us and nrg4SD is an excellent platform to that end. When we learnt about the open call to the President for the South position, we identified an opportunity to strengthen our work, consolidate our vision, and support our purposes. At the same time, we were excited about the possibility of bringing to the Network our contributions and vision, since we consider nrg4SD as our soul mate and have an ownership feeling about its actions. Therefore, one of our main aims during our Presidency is to strengthen nrg4SD in Latin America.
nrg4SD: Azuay is member to nrg4SD since 2013. How does your membership support Azuay in the achievement of the Province’s responsibilities?
MCA: Our President, Paul Carrasco, made the decision to join nrg4SD in 2013 motivated through the work he was developing at that time as President of ORU-FOGAR. He saw in nrg4SD a crucial complementary role not only to strengthen the voice of regional governments in the global architecture, but also to support the Province’s commitments in relation to the environment and sustainable development. Indeed, our membership to nrg4SD has strongly contributed to our territorial vision, what we denominate as “eco-democracy” within our development plan. During the three short years that we have walked along together we have very much learnt thanks to all the learning and exchange opportunities within the Network. Besides, nrg4SD gives us the opportunity to have international visibility and voice in international summits, and especially, I would like to highlight the learning achieved within the RegionsAdapt initiative that has been crucial for our regional and local actions. Moreover, we applied to the Call4Projects program by submitting a project for the conservation of the spectacled bear and the mountain tapir, which are local endemic species in danger of extinction. Thanks to the nrg4SD’s support and this Call4Projects program, which is aimed at fostering cooperation among members, we will be able to transform this project into reality together with another province of Ecuador, which is also an nrg4SD member.
nrg4SD: As you mentioned, Azuay is a RegionsAdapt member. What is the Province’s vision regarding this initiative?
MCA: Being part of RegionsAdapt impelled us to accelerate the creation of our climate change strategy and to obtain further internal support to achieve that task, because it is not anymore only about our willingness to make things happen, but about the international commitment that we have taken within RegionsAdapt and its members. Therefore, being part of RegionsAdapt has given us the necessary strength to develop our responsibilities, even when not necessarily fully agreeing with other governmental levels, such as the local and national governments. Besides, having our own climate change strategy and inserting it within an international initiative such as RegionsAdapt, has very much helped us to confront the national Government –despite our limited competences in strategic sectors that are reserved to the national level- in certain topics where we have different visions, in particular water conservation vs. open air metal mining -a critical issue in our Province. RegionsAdapt offers many opportunities to share experiences with other members by identifying the best practices in each territory. Furthermore, next year we expect to anchor our presence in the Regions for Biodiversity Learning Platform and learn more about endemic flora and fauna management, as well as opportunities to access international funds focused on the protection of endangered species, their habitats and ecosystems -themes to which the Province of Azuay could contribute with its skills and work.
nrg4SD: Speaking of the Regions for Biodiversity Learning Platform, aside from the protection of species, is there any other project on biodiversity that you wish to highlight? What are the main challenges of Azuay in the field of biodiversity?
MCA: Within our “MAR” strategy, one of the tools that we are currently creating together with the University of Azuay, is the map of vegetation cover and an inventory of flora and fauna of our Province. When such planning tools are ready, we will be in a very good position to contribute to the Regions for Biodiversity and make use of its opportunities, especially with regards learning. In Ecuador, our most important and emblematic endangered species is the condor. Our Province has developed a territory where condors reproduce in their natural habitat and not in captivity. At present, we have a management plan for the condor area, which we believe could be one of the first contributions of Azuay to the Regions for Biodiversity Learning Platform, which in turn could help us consolidating such efforts by the exchange and learning provided.