Adaptation has been formally a topic in the debate about climate governance since the United Nations Climate Change Conference of 2010 (COP 16) established the Adaptation Framework as well as an Adaptation Committee. More recently, the Paris Agreement, a document built as a result of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of 2015 (COP 21) established climate adaptation as a global challenge and invited countries to work towards this objective. Furthermore, the Agreement emphasized the role of state and non-state actors of different levels in efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Inside this context, the authors of the article Global climate adaptation governance in the Amazon through a polycentricity lens published in the special issue of Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional Brazil ups and downs in global environmental governance (2008-2018) (RBPI – vol. 62, n. 2), Fronika Claziena Agatha de Wit and Paula Martins de Freitas, analyze the emergence as well as the advantages and challenges of the adaptation governance in the Amazon. To do so, the researchers build a case study focused on the state of Acre and its environmental policies oriented by the polycentric governance theory. As a result, the article develops a series of recommendations on how to improve the adaptation governance in the state of Acre and also provides an interesting application of the polycentric governance theory to a region inside the Global South. The authors were interviewed by Sara Rodrigues, a member of the promotion staff of RBPI, regarding their research.
In a brief manner, how can the adaptation governance be defined? Furthermore, why is mitigation no longer enough to global climate governance?
Adaptation governance can be defined as governance focused on the process of adjustment to the current and expected impacts of climate change. The mitigation governance, on the other hand, is related to the processes of fighting the causes of climate changes and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In the past, global climate governance was merely focused on the mitigation aspect. Nevertheless, we can see that the global mitigation actions will take decades to influence the temperature increase and several countries, especially those in development, are already feeling the consequences. Therefore, we need global efforts to adapt to the impact of current and near-future climate changes. As a consequence of that, the Paris Agreement about global climate governance has as one of its objectives the increase of the adaptative capacity, the strengthening of the resilience and the reduction of the vulnerability to climate changes.
One of the governance challenges mentioned in the article is the climate communication, in other words, the ability of the different actors involved to use the same concepts to facilitate mutual understanding. Concerning the interviewees in your research, did you noticed the use of different concepts to refer to the same phenomenon – something that could create hindrances to the communication – or, on the contrary, it was possible to observe a vocabulary common to the organizations?
Research shows that the concept of climate change has to be rethought. In places where the vocabulary applied in national and international politics is very focused on the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental component of climate changes, our research shows the importance of a more holistic definition centered on the quality of life. The local subjects interviewed mentioned that they already feel the impact of climate changes in their lives. To many of them, it is not just an environmental question of reducing carbon emissions, but it is more a food security question as well as a cultural question. Because there are so many concepts related to the climate changes in a systemic sense, it is extremely important to stimulate the dialogue among different actors.
One of the recommendations for the development of the adaptation climate governance in the Amazon that you present in the article is the incorporation of both scientific and indigenous knowledge. Having that in mind, how do you believe that the Brazilian academy, the main responsible for the production of researches, could incorporate and value the knowledge of traditional communities in the Amazon to contribute to the active role of these peoples in the governance, as you suggest in your work?
We believe that the Brazilian academy, that works with the topic of climate change can follow the example of the Intergovernmental Platform about Biodiversity and Ecosystemic Services (IPBES in Portuguese). The IPBES, an independent office such as the Climate Platform (IPCC in Portuguese), aims to bring together governments, non-governmental organizations, universities scientific organizations and traditional communities to asses critically the relevant information about the biodiversity and the ecosystemic services. As a consequence, the IPBES values all knowledge systems. We suggest the creation of a research and debate group about mitigation and adaptation governance to the climate changes with the involvement of leaders from indigenous peoples and traditional communities to value the different ontologies and epistemologies about climate changes.
Do you believe that the governance observed in Acre could be repeated on the other Brazilian states? Moreover, in case that happened, do you think that a coherent and comprehensive regional climate governance for the Amazon would automatically develop? Or, on the contrary, this type of consequence would only result from a conscious and concerted effort among national and subnational governments to build governance for the Amazon?
We believe that it is paramount to highlight the heterogeneity of the nine states from the Legal Amazon. Therefore, it would not be necessarily possible to reproduce the governance observed in the state of Acre in the remaining states which have completely different social, economic, cultural and historical contexts. However, we believe that it is possible and important to have regional climate governance for the Brazilian Amazon. The states from the Amazon can learn with each other focusing on the best practices and developing a dialogue about common strategies to watersheds, indigenous lands, and conservation unities that are located in more than one state. Having in mind the example of the Ecological-economic Macrozoning (MacroZEE) of the Legal Amazon, we think that the collaboration among the Amazonian states is of big importance as well as the only way to deal with the impact of climate changes. We would like to go beyond the Legal Amazon and highlight the relevance of transborder collaboration. In our article, we emphasize the MAP initiative that represents the different actors from the Madre de Dios-Peru department, the state of Acre-Brazil and the Pando-Bolívia department. Climate changes do not look to borders. Accordingly, we need to include the departments from all Amazonian countries so as to have an effective adaptation to climate governance.
Read the article
Wit, Fronika Claziena Agatha de, & Freitas, Paula Martins de. (2019). Global climate adaptation governance in the Amazon through a polycentricity lens. Revista Brasileira de Política Internacional, 62(2), e007. Epub September 12, 2019.https://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0034-7329201900207
About the authors
Fronika De Wit – Universidade de Lisboa, Instituto de Ciências Sociais – GI Ambiente, Território e Sociedade Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal
Paula de Freitas – Faculdade da Amazônia Ocidental, Biology, Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil
Sara Rodrigues – University of Brasilia – Institute of International Relations. Brasília, Brazil
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