This post is part of a series on how virtuous interdependency brings greater climate action when national governments and regional, state and local governments and businesses work together.Because countries’ commitments are not enough, and cities, local governments and businesses can only do so much to keep climate impacts from reaching the most dangerous levels, we need to strengthen the mutually reinforcing relationship between national and subnational climate action to support and unlock greater ambition.To show how this relationship between cities and national governments can work, let’s start at the top: Bogota, Colombia, one of the most high-altitude capitals on Earth.At 8,600 feet above sea level, high on an Andean plateau, Bogotá is Colombia’s largest city with a population of 8 million. Its location has benefits, like abundant, year-round fresh water trickling down from moorlands and a relatively consistent cool year-round climate.These traits should make energy demands for Bogota’s buildings relatively low and straightforward compared with to its South American neighbors. That’s a good thing, since Colombia’s buildings produce roughly 45 percent of national emissions, so reducing building energy use is central to meeting its international climate commitments.But when Bogotá tried to implement building codes that were passed by the national government in 2015, the city found the policy lacked essential elements like guidance on where to set the baseline for energy efficiency.Breakneck Urban GrowthIn 2016, through the global Building Efficiency Accelerator (BEA), Bogotá committed publicly to implement a building energy code in city regulation and district plans. Within only six months of this commitment, city officials had held a launch workshop, won official support from multiple city departments and presented their 18-month work plan. By summer 2017, they had discovered the national codes’ shortcomings.The timing was particularly crucial due to the city’s breakneck pace of growth. By 2050, Bogotá plans to more than double its number of homes, from 2.3 million now to a total of 5 million and is already developing a new master plan that will determine how it will grow over the next 12 years.Mayor Enrique Peñalosa made it clear that this growth can’t come at a cost of doubling energy demand on its grid or polluting its air. So he sought a compromise.Together with BEA’s Colombian partner, Consejo Colombiano de Construcción Sostenible (CCCS), Bogotá city officials used the Building Efficiency Accelerator to contact the U.S.-based Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which proved crucial to understanding how to best revise and implement the Colombian building code. Experts at the laboratory, which has evaluated building energy codes from multiple countries, were able to offer options for making Colombia’s legislation more realistic.Bogotá then enlisted local university researchers, utility executives and construction leaders to simulate how revising the legislation could make it more workable by the local construction sector.Informed by the results of technical and stakeholder analyses, Bogotá city staff, CCCS and the BEA created a protocol that made the national building code something Bogotá and other large Colombian cities could properly put in practice. That in turn enabled the mayor to commit to implementing the national code throughout the city’s master plan for urban redevelopment.“Through the BEA, we worked to deliver a policy that is adapted to the city’s needs and its climate and technical capacities,” said Juan Camilo González, advisor to the mayor.The final action plan was signed by the city’s planning and environment secretaries, accompanied by the mayor, fittingly, at a CCCS event.Extending Positive ImpactBuilding from its experience with Bogotá, CCCS then held several roundtables with the Colombian National Planning Department to inform national policy on sustainable buildings. In March 2018, the summary white paper was approved by the president and his cabinet, much to the delight of CCCS, Bogotá and their far-flung friends throughout the BEA network.On October 3, Bogotá announced its new policy for more energy-efficient construction, integrating the now implementable national building efficiency code into their master plan. The policy is expected to reduce energy and water use in new buildings by 20 percent and 30 percent, respectively.“Through the BEA, we have a unique opportunity to extend Bogotá’s positive impact to other cities in Colombia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing and the more than 25 stakeholders that participate in the program,” said Sarah Arboleda of Consejo Colombiano de Construcción Sostenible, Colombia’s Green Building Council.From the dizzying altitudes of Bogota to the president’s desk, and then out to all the cities of Colombia, this case demonstrates the sort of virtuous interdependency that is feasible between cities and their central governments — and what’s desperately needed to achieve climate action at the national and global scale.Better building efficiency policies can result in 25-50 percent reductions in energy demand from both new and existing buildings, saving money and reducing pollution. The Building Efficiency Accelerator, part of the UN Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) campaign, works with subnational governments and global and local private and civil society partners to implement policies and programs to improve buildings. In its first two years, the BEA reached 253 cities with its resources and obtained 47 commitments on building efficiency action from 32 cities in 17 countries. Learn more at www.buildingefficiencyaccelerator.org.
The home of Marliane das Chagas Soares, in the interior Amazonian community of Juruti, in Para, Brazil, seldom lacks tasty treats. Several types of cakes, cookies and desserts frequently grace the family table.They are all delicious, but they are all made from the same main ingredient: cassava, also known as manioc or yucca. It has, for some time, been the only crop grown in this area. That makes for a less-than-nutritious diet.Recently, that has begun to change. With help from WRI Brazil, Soares’ household, along with 21 other families in Juruti, shifted their farm away from cassava-only cultivation towards a system known as agroforestry. Agroforestry—which involves integrating trees and shrubs into farming systems—can diversify farmers’ crops by adding fruit trees and other edible plants on fields.In areas that were once subject to slash-and-burn, agroforestry has the added benefit of restoring these areas of forest to greater productivity. Now, advocates hope what’s happening in Juruti can serve as a model for full-scale forest restoration in Brazil, which has a goal of restoring 12 million hectares (almost 30 million acres) of forests by 2030.Burning Too FastA community of about 50,000 on the banks of the Amazon River, Juruti has grown considerably in the last decade due to bauxite mining. Population and economic growth, however, have not yet stimulated significant rural development. It is a poor area, served only by rough dirt roads and separated from modern resources like sewers and sanitation.Most of the rural population uses fire to clear land for agriculture, a technique they call coivara; in English, it is known as slash-and-burn. Note the square patch in this land near Juruti burned by coivara. Joana Oliveira/WRI Brasil Agroforestry in Juruti would allow farmers to continue producing cassava or keeping livestock, while at the same time introducing native fruit trees and other plants that improve soil quality. (The seeds for these native plants must be gathered from the forest—more on that below.)It’s a stark difference. Under the previous system, farmers would only last two or three years before they had to slash-and-burn their way to a new field. With agroforestry, the same area can grow cassava, fruits, nuts and wood products over a 30¬-year cycle—without burning the forest.Gender Key to Spreading AgroforestryA good forest restoration project needs to know everything it can about the landscape that will be restored. What kind of soil is there? What species can survive, and which will thrive?People are vital too. Communities, corporations, government agencies, and individuals all influence the outcome of a project. Understanding these actors’ needs, motivations, and relations is crucial to a successful project.WRI approached members of the Juruti community to learn more about the social landscape focused on agroforestry. We initially convened conversations with men and women together. But women let their male partners lead these conversations. In order to represent the input of women in a more balanced manner, researchers split men and women in two different groups, creating an environment where women could share their opinions more comfortably. This approach revealed that women had access only to second-handed information sources on farming and restoration (such as information from neighbors or the church), while men tended to get information in primary sources (such as official, governmental rural assistance).Women basically did not have the information they needed to implement the roles they held in the transition to agroforestry.These roles are important. Many farms are led by women, especially when men work away from the farm for wages. Additionally, women are the ones who travel into the Amazon to gather the seeds necessary to plant native species. Juruti is not close to other villages, making this travel dangerous; floods posing a risk that is magnified by the fact that women often do not have access to the Internet, where they might obtain up-to-date meteorological information. Getting this information to women in a different way would be a boon to restoration efforts that hinged on native species.As the social landscape mapping uncovered, women get their information from very different sources than men, tending towards secondary and word-of-mouth sources such as elders, children and the church. To reach women, restoration advocates need to include more than just the publications men were reading in their outreach efforts.Production Without DeforestationMarliane das Chagas Soares and her husband. Joana Oliveira/WRI Brasil The findings of the consultative process helped the WRI Brazil Forest team set up the next stage of their project: 21 households would participate in pilot agroforestry projects. 14 of the families selected were led by women, and the team provided them with technical support through workshops and other activities. WRI Brazil hired Petra Terra, an agroforestry start-up, to build agroforestry designs according to each family’s needs.With this support in place, at the beginning of 2019 Soares’ family planted a demonstration unit managed according to the principles of agroforestry. Where cassava was once the only crop, the demonstration hectare mixes crops and forest. They planted native trees, including paricá, cumaru (also known as tonka) and even rosewood (used in perfumes), as well as fruit trees, such as açaí, cupuaçu — a tropical rainforest tree fruit related to cacao — and banana.”My goal is to show people how to produce without deforesting. We want to take this work to other farmers,” said another project leader, Fatima de Melo Lima, smallholder farmer and the president of the Rural Workers Union in Juruti.The Soares family, for example, wants to continue producing cassava—and making their delicious traditional pastries and cakes. But agroforestry enables them to diversity their offerings. Who knows—in the future, the family table may have açai, cupuaçu and other diverse fruits of the Amazon alongside cassava. A cleared area will produce cassava for two or three years. After that it is abandoned, and the farmer moves on to a new area.Previously, farmers would take two or three decades to return to a burned area, which would have recovered by then. These days, because there is a shortage of land available for farming, they return in just over two years. Successive burnings have depleted the soil in Juruti, making crops less productive. As climate change modifies the dynamics of rainfall in the region, fires often spread from crop fields into pristine forests.Cassava-centric agriculture has further drawbacks for the community. It entails difficult labor and long hours. Moreover, relying only on cassava (supplemented by fish) doesn’t provide enough dietary nutrients.It was clear that Juruti’s farmers needed the landscape to change if they wanted to continue living there. But the question remained: How could they restore the land and make it more productive for them?Productive Forests and the Social LandscapeOne possible answer lies in agroforestry.Native trees ready for planting. Joana Oliveira/WRI Brasil
NEW YORK, NY – The Coral Reef Club Spa will open in Barbados during December 2008. The Spa, designed by British designer Helen Green, whose signature style combines a modern aesthetic with classic Barbadian charm, will use products from the multi award-winning luxury brand, Natura Bisse.Additionally, an exotic range of treatments using locally sourced plant life & fruits has been created by the Coral Reef Club Spa. Set amidst twelve acres of beautiful and mature gardens, its facilities will include: individual treatment rooms with private gardens; a couple’s outdoor treatment pavilion set in a lush private garden; a hydro pool with shaded cabanas for post treatment relaxation; a thermal suite with ‘experience’ shower; plus a beautifully designed spa lounge and relaxation room.Karen Capaldi, Director, Coral Reef Club, said, “The intention is to create a spa that fits with the existing Coral Reef environment. Totally luxurious, but with a sense of place, ensuring the spa client knows that they are in the Caribbean. The lush gardens, Caribbean architecture, its interiors and treatments using tropical ingredients all reinforce this sentiment. Coral Reef Club and The Sandpiper recognize the need to constantly upgrade as the hotel industry is a highly competitive, global business, so we are very excited about this project which will enhance the guest experience.”