"The situation in big cities is really urgent"

Smog and pollution in Buenos Aires
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Especially in megacities like Buenos Aires climate change accelarates the already existing enviromental problems

This interview with Ana Di Pangracio was conducted at the Future Workshop Chile/Argentina/Brasil. Ana Di Pangracio is Deputy Director at Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales FARN in Argentina.

Where do you see the difference between climate change politics that are human-centered or those that focus more on biodiversity and nature?

When it comes to my country, Argentina, the constitution, after the reform in 1994, granted citizens the right to a healthy, balanced and apt environment for human development and productive activities that satisfy present and future needs. This is very human-centred, anthropocentric. The state authorities have the duty to provide this right. If they do not, people are entitled to turn to court. This applies to the environment in general terms but also to sectorial matters such as climate change and biodiversity policies. They are centred on humans rather than the environment, ecosystems, the climate or biodiversity itself.

Do people ask for laws that focus more on biodiversity and nature?

Yes, there are civil society organizations that are claiming for that, a more eco-centred legal approach, but I would say that they are still a minority. People do not yet realize the fact that the constitutional right to a healthy environment, as stated now, is human-centred when it should be nature-centred as humans are one of many components of the environment.

Which steps for adaptation to climate change should be taken first? Which steps is your country taking?

Well, right now we can see that the situation in big cities is really urgent, particularly in Buenos Aires downtown and the suburbs. Due to climate change, storms are becoming more powerful and frequent. Cities are getting flooded and we see that authorities have no concrete and practical responses to that. After storms they tend to give subsidies to people to rebuild their houses or shops but there is no strategic, participatory, long term plan whatsoever. I think that is one of the main and more urgent steps big cities in my country need to take. The National Secretariat of Environment is now working on a climate change national strategy, an integral work and within the framework of international agreements but the process is very slow and there is no full participation of civil society.

How can people adapt to climate change? Which steps are important?

In the referred case of storms, climate change affects people destroying their houses, shops and personal belongings. Of course they can take individual preventative measures to confront these more frequent events and take personal actions for a more green life and reduce emissions. However, they should also realize that they have - and have the right - to demand authorities more integral, large scale and holistic measures.

So, after talking to the delegates from different countries at this conference, have you learned something striking that has never come to your mind before? Referring to statements or views of the others, what was the most striking thing for you?

As a Latin American I could see that, regarding the environment, delegates coming from Africa and  Asia have similar needs to ours and therefore events like this summits are very useful in terms of learning from experiences of those with a similar problematic; networking and promote joint action among those with common issues and needs. I really liked the lecture by Kate Raworth yesterday about the Doughnut Economics. It was an interesting new approach that comprises in one simple symbol like the doughnut all you learn separately at your BSc or MSc and allows you to have a look at all the environmental elements together and see how interlinked and interconnected they are.

Thank you for the interview!