San Jose, Costa Rica, August 25, 2011 (IICA). The creation of the Costa Rican committee, which will join the Mesoamerican scientific-technical network on climate change, is the latest action taken by an intergovernmental program being implemented by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
In the Central American countries, Mexico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, the committees will comprise researchers, entrepreneurs and agricultural authorities, who will form part of a network that is charged with developing a regional strategy for adapting agriculture to climate variability.
The creation of this network is one of the objectives of the Intergovernmental Program for Cooperation in Climate Change (PRICA), being spearheaded by the IICA Office in Mexico, with support from the Secretariat of Foreign Relations of that country.
During a visit to IICA Headquarters in Costa Rica, governmental officials, academics, businessmen and representatives of other sectors related to agriculture and the environment attended a presentation of the PRICA. Following the presentation, the national committee was created.
Martha Lucia Alviar, a specialist from the IICA Office in Mexico and Coordinator of the program, explained that, in addition to Costa Rica, committees had also been established in the Dominican Republic and Panama, and that plans called for the next committee be created in Guatemala.
These committees must structure the national nodes of the scientific-technical network, whose specific actions will be defined at the International Seminar on Adapting Agriculture to Climate Change, to be held in Mexico on September 26-28.
According to Marta Villegas, Director of the Executive Secretariat for Agricultural Sector Planning (SEPSA) of Costa Rica, the operation of the node is part of a national agenda proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Farming (MAG).
MAG Deputy Minister, Tania Lopez, stated that “The agricultural sector wants to be actively involved in implementing the National Climate Change Strategy (ENCC).”
For Diego Montenegro, IICA Representative in Costa Rica, the fact that a number of disciplines are represented on the national committee will make it possible to jointly clear up the uncertainty created by climate change in this country and throughout Mesoamerica.
The PRICA was created to complement regional actions aimed at adapting agriculture to climate change, at the request of the Central America Agricultural Council (CAC), which suggested the need to increase the capacity of institutions in the countries to respond to climatic events.
Agriculture, one of the human activities which emits greenhouse gas (GHG) that contributes to climate change, is also highly vulnerable to climate change, which can affect overall temperatures, the availability of water and the amount of nutrients in the soil, all of which are essential to production.
Roman Cordero, a regional Integration specialist from IICA, which provides the CAC with technical and financial support, explained that the PRICA will complement other regional actions aimed at strengthening agriculture, such as the Central American Agricultural Policy (PACA), the Regional Strategy on Agro-environment and Health (ERAS) and the Central American Strategy for Rural-area-based Development (ECADERT).
Marcela Aedo, a specialist from the IICA Office in Mexico, noted that the Costa Rican node of the scientific-technical network can take advantage of the existing ENCC, created in 2008 and operating in several ministries.
National forum in Costa Rica
During the presentation of the PRICA in Costa Rica, the director in charge of matters related to climate change in the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Telecommunications (MINAET), William Alvarez, stated that the country expected to conclude in September an assessment of the technological capabilities required for mitigation and adaption to climate change.
A project calling for the development of such technologies will be submitted for funding to the United Nations Environmental Programmed (UNEP).
According to Carlos Brenes, Director of the Oceanographic Laboratory of the National University (UNA), scientific and technological research is essential to defining actions to adapt to climate change, especially in the fisheries sector, where there is a serious lack of awareness of its effects.
“Adaption must be gradual, continuous, by agroecological zone and for each agricultural activity,” added the Director of the National Institute for Innovation in and the Transfer of Agricultural Technology (INTA), Sergio Abarca.
For Erick Alfaro, Director of the Center for Geophysical Research of the University of Costa Rica, adaptation entails more than forecasting economic and environmental effects; it must also take into consideration the vulnerability of the population, especially the poor.
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