After a two month haitus, Perusing has finally returned, with big news to report. The following bi-weekly reoport has details:
INDEV 402 Bi-weekly Report
January 28th, 2013
These past two weeks have resulted in major changes for the future of my time here in Peru. As I mentioned in previous reports, my project, Caminando con el Apu Pariacaca has been plagued with funding issues for the past months. In spite of this, it had been assumed that the temporarily suspended project would begin again in February. On the Wednesday following my last report, however, I learned that further financial complications had arisen and the project would not continue until March at the earliest. After a brief consultation with WUSC, who had been monitoring my situation, it was decided that I would begin a second placement with a different organization. Thanks to the support of the local WUSC staff, I met with my new supervisor at Peru’s Ministry of Environment (MINAM) that Friday.
While it was unfortunate that I had to leave Caminando con el Apu Pariacaca before I could carry to completion several of my allotted tasks, I am glad for the chance to gain experience working toward sustainable development from a different perspective. Having left the manifest uncertainty of the not-for-profit world, I have now been given the opportunity to learn from professionals in the relative security of the public sphere of Peru’s political economy, a move that will allow me to experience development work at both project (GEA) and policy (MINAM) levels.
I have spent my first week at MINAM becoming acquainted with my new coworkers and tasks. I will be working in the Centro de Documentación Ambiental, (Environmental Information Center), assisting with various programs that aim to gather and disseminate disparate series of environmental information, particularly with the established SINIA (National System of Environmental Information) and the nascent RETC (Registry of Pollutant Emissions and Transfers). My first week with MINAM also corresponded with the Ministry’s annual Feria de Confraternidad, a get-to-know-you fair that allows Ministry employees and the public to learn about the various projects, programs and policies being developed by MINAM. It was an important reminder of the numerous and varied development and sustainability challenges currently facing Peru.
In our UW coursework, we have often discussed the relationship between the environment and human well-being, focusing on the difficult but necessary task of balancing these factors for long-term sustainability. In Peru, these challenges are becoming increasing evident as Peruvians continue to lift themselves out of the poverty of the last decades, only to come face to face with serious environmental and sustainability issues that threaten to undo overall improvements to human development, (I’ve written previously about these issues, which most notably include water scarcity, mining issues, and deforestation). Fortunately, there seems to be a growing awareness of the need to foster sustainable development alternatives, as evidenced by the creation of MINAM in 2008, and by the proliferation of NGOs (like Grupo GEA) that are working to promote sustainable development throughout the country. Regardless of current economic and ecological challenges, many of the Peruvians whom I have met remain optimistic regarding the sustainability of their future. This optimism may be warranted, given the fact that WWF Global rates Peru as the only country in the world to currently reside within what they call the sustainability “sweetspot”, given their relatively high HDI ranking, and low national ecological footprint. Given these facts, Peru is, in many ways, a microcosm of global challenges and solutions to sustainable development. I feel fortunate to be a part of the efforts to overcome Peru’s growing environmental challenges and look forward to observing the ways that private, government, and civil society actors will work to make Peru a global example for sustainable development.
Thanks for reading,