ESI champions natural climate and community solutions in Latin America at UP Symposium in Brazil

December 15, 2022

In a 2022  white paper, Protecting and Enhancing Natural Carbon Sinks: Natural Climate and Community Solutions, MIT researchers introduced the concept of “Natural Climate and Community Solutions” as a framework for socially beneficial climate action and biodiversity conservation in carbon-rich ecosystems. Unpacking different aspects of this concept was the intellectual motivation for a recent conference in Brazil.

The 4th International Symposium on Environmental Management and Climate Change (in Portuguese: 4ºSimpósio Internacional sobre Gestão Ambiental e Mudanças Climáticas – 4ºSIMGAMC), co-organized by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI) and hosted by the Centro de Pesquisa da Universidade Positivo (CPUP), was held in Curitiba, Brazil, from December 4th to 7th.

Presenters at the 4ºSIMGAMC event discuss “monitoring to support conservation and management of natural resources and the well-being of local communities”

The event included round tables, lectures, workshops, posters, and oral presentations of original research, with an emphasis on paths for nature conservation in Latin American tropical forests aligned with socio-economic priorities of traditional populations and other links in society. Topics included governance for the conservation of transboundary ecosystems, monitoring to support conservation and management of natural resources and the well-being of local communities, the role of community empowerment in environmental management, bioeconomies as models of sustainable development, and urban planning for human settlements in carbon-rich and ecologically sensitive regions.

The symposium convened representatives from research institutions, universities, non-governmental and governmental organizations, community organizations and companies from 5 different countries in the Americas to present their research and field strategies and to share reflections on relevant socio-environmental issues for Latin America. Participating organizations included National Institute for Space Research INPE (Brazil); National Research Institute of the Amazon INPA (Brazil); UN-FAO REDD+ Latin America; Amazonian Cooperation Treaty Organization ACTO; Amazonic Institute of Scientific Research SINCHI (Colombia); Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research CIIMAR; University of Porto (Portugal); Alexander von Humboldt Institute of Biological Resources IAvH (Colombia); and University of Santiago (Chile), among others.

A symposium panel discusses “the role of community empowerment in environmental management”

Researchers and students from MIT had wide participation across all panels. Prof. John Fernández, Director of the ESI, highlighted the challenges of decision making under tradeoffs and the shifting role of academia to address global environmental challenges. Alessandra Fabbri, a doctoral student at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, and Angelica Mayolo, a Fellow at ESI, discussed how conservation efforts for transboundary ecosystems open new opportunities for integration of multiple and overlapping levels of governance, in which many actors operate within different spaces. Evan Fricke, a research scientist at the MIT Terrer Lab, discussed how biodiversity amplifies the functionality of ecosystems as natural carbon sinks (Evan Fricke, MIT Terrer Lab). Natalia Mosquera of the MIT Community Innovators Lab argued that economic democracy and pluralist models of development support the restoration of ecosystems in tropical rainforests. And ESI Research Program Director Marcela Angel and doctoral student Joris Komen of the School of Architecture and Planning presented on the main challenges and indigenous development lessons for cities in biodiversity hotspots and carbon-rich regions .

UP PPGAmb Professors Cíntia Mara Ribas de Oliveira and John J. Loomis, together with ESI’s Marcela Angel and Alessandra Fabbri, led the organization of the event.

In addition to sharing knowledge, the event provided a fruitful environment to promote new collaborations and partnerships. Capturing the essence of the event, Olívio Jekupé of the Guarani Nation in Paraná, Brazil, highlighted that multi-stakeholder partnerships are necessary, since “we live the fight” and “we also have knowledge to share, because we too are worried about the environment”. For Kanamashi of the Yawanawa Nation in the Amazon state of Acre, Brazil, knowledge sharing and communication are fundamental to growth and development, and she hopes members of the research network have an opportunity to visit her territory, because “our territory needs to be seen.”

The event was supported by the Institute of Ecological Research IPÊ , Mater Natura Institute of Environmental Studies, and the Wildlife and Environmental Education Research Society SPVS, in addition to the Support Program for Events in the Country (PAEP) of the Brazilian Ministry for Education and the Brazilian state Parana’s Research Institution, Fundação Araucária.

UP social media handles: website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.