Experts at Change the Change call on citizens to be part of climate change decision-making
During the second day of the Conference, figures such as Rebeca Grynspan again stressed the consequences of global warming: “in Latin America, between 80 and 180 million people could be affected by desertification”.
The event is one of the year’s key events in this field and has gathered together top-tier international experts in San Sebastián until tomorrow, 8 March.
During its second day, ‘Change the Change’, the International Climate Change Conference being held in San Sebastián, has featured figures of the ilk of the Secretary General at the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB) and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the International Institute for Environment and Development, Rebeca Grynspan, to address the problem from the perspective of sustainability.
The experts have turned their sights on the future. Grynspan warned of the challenges facing Latin America, which is even more vulnerable than Europe to global warming: “Between 80 and 180 million people could be affected by desertification” and “rise in sea level would affect most capitals”. During this panel, the former Vice President of Costa Rica stressed that the problem “must be taken to the people so that they can see that it is affecting them”. “We are not opening up participation spaces for that dialogue,” she judged, “we must rally society to look for answers together”.
The General Secretary of the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4sd), Natalia Vera, agreed with Grynsan. “No one left behind”, the slogan of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), consists of that citizen participation according to Vera: “It is not about calling upon the public administrations, even though they have to take their responsibility; everyone must do their bit and be part of multilevel cooperation with cross-cutting participation”.
The Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance – ‘Globernance’, Daniel Innerarity, who was also a member of the panel, expressed the idea that “our societies are consuming the future in an irresponsible way”. Innerarity also reflected on the need to downplay the immediate needs and shift the focus: “We have gone from a relatively stable world where we learnt from past experiences, to a fast-paced world based on technology; we now have to learn from the future,” he concluded.
The Basque Government’s General Secretary for External Affairs, Marian Elorza, explained that, apart from committing to clean energies, involving society in the use of resources is also important: “Energy efficiency habits have to be fostered, using the energy we need, not more”. The High Commission for the 2030 Agenda of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cristina Gallach, warned that the change processes have to be supported: “If the most vulnerable perceive that they are going to foot the bill of the environmental transition, logically, there will be barriers of fear”.
“The most vulnerable are the most affected”
Rebeca Grynspan and the Former Peruvian Minister of Environment and current Leader of the Climate and Energy Practice at WWF International, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, held a joint press conference after the panel. “Climate change is affecting the economy and society, and, above all, it affects the most vulnerable population,” pointed out Grynspan. She thus linked the change to the social inequalities of Latin America: “The most vulnerable are the most affected by natural disasters, which are not natural but social, because they reflect the inequality map”.
Pulgar-Vidal, in turn, stressed that “we are at a crucial moment” where science has shown that “each half a degree matters”: “What we have been doing has been good but not sufficient”. He warned about the rising temperature: “We are not living up to the promise not to increase 1.5º; a 3º increase will have catastrophic consequences”. He also contended that the change in behaviour “is not just up to governments, but also to the citizens”.
In a special session, the Artingenium Director, Lourdes Fernández, explained the work of Cristina Iglesias, the sculptor from San Sebastián, which merges art and climate change. Iglesias uses the natural elements as the medium for her pieces, as underwater structures that have joined the ecosystem and have become a refuge for the species. “The idea of art as a refuge both for humans and for species has always been the central idea in Cristina Iglesias’s work”, noted Lourdes Fernández.