Action for Climate Empowerment in Chile

We interviewed Johanna Arriagada, Coordinator of Projects UNDP - Climate Change Office of the Ministry of Environment of Chile, to talk about the country’s ACE strategy

08.12.2019 · Madrid · Spain 

From the Chilean Ministry of Environment, how are you promoting the Action for Climate Empowerment agenda?

We have been working on ACE for a while now, actually. The NDC of 2015 already included some capacity issues, but they were very diffuse and unclear. After that we worked on the National Action Plan on Climate Change from 2017 to 2022, and there were some components for ACE, but at that time we didn't know them as ACE: there was a national education programme, others for awareness raising, training of technicians, and incorporation of climate change into university programmes, for example, but it was not yet a complete strategy.


Then, from that, we started working on the Climate Change Bill, where the Long Term Climate Strategy is established as one of its instruments. Already in this draft bill, five topics are established that this strategy must include, and all the ACE topics are incorporated there. The bill that has been submitted to Congress also explicitly contains a section on access to public information, citizen participation, and more importantly, education, awareness-raising and international cooperation.

After that, in 2019 we started working with the proposed update of the NDC, in the section of means of implementation, it was specifically incorporated, in the commitment to develop a strategy for capacity building and climate empowerment. And what we did in this strategy - which is now available on the web after just finishing the public consultation on December 2 - was to integrate all the ACE elements: access to information, citizen participation, education, awareness raising, international cooperation and capacity building. And the task is to be able to design this strategy until 2020 and start implementing it in 2021, with the support of EUROCLIMA+.

The idea of this strategy is to be able to formulate it with all the actors who are involved, especially young people, who are super involved, who are doing some protests and movements for climate change, but also to include perhaps the parents of children, the elderly, civil society, academia, the private sector, and teachers. We don't have everything structured yet, but the idea is to be able to incorporate all the actors in the development of this strategy.

What are the main challenges you face in advancing this agenda in Chile?

In Chile we had a very busy year in 2019, because as COP25 was announced in Chile, various climate change events from academia began to emerge automatically and without much organisation. In all the universities throughout the country there were climate change seminars, the private sector was doing many seminars, and civil society began to self-manage different activities. At that time, the COP25 team tried to keep a record, but now we will have to start channelling this, because everything was very spontaneous and there was no organisation.

The idea now is to be able to work on strategy together to define what the first steps are; the next thing will be to define what types of actors we are going to address first. The challenge is to be able to sit everyone down at the table and to be able to organise and agree among ourselves on how we are going to programme these activities

What progress has Chile made in promoting this ACE agenda in the country?

Among the main advances, I believe that, for example in educational matters, in the curricular foundations for third and fourth grades, climate change has already been specifically included, and this will mean that all study texts, and certainly in science, will have to integrate the subject of climate change itself. From the pre-basic level, the topics associated with climate change are included, but they are scattered. There is, for example, the greenhouse effect, energy efficiency, and water scarcity, but they are not connected to each other. They are not within a framework of climate change, and we must make a special guide for teachers so that they understand that all these components are intertwined with climate change. In the third and fourth grades, this is specifically included.

Another important development has taken place in academia. At COP25 a scientific committee on climate change was formed which has given a lot of impetus to the activities, and the inclusion of these same scientists in schools.

In access to information we have a transparency law that supports the publication of all information on the Ministry's website; anyone can ask us for any information. And what we are trying to do now is to facilitate that access: a new website has been developed with more advanced technology, since the previous one was a very unattractive website for citizens. I think that this is the challenge: that climate change issues can permeate others that are closely related, but that people cannot relate them. Those of us who work on climate change, civil society, and the private sector, are very convinced that we have to work on increasing ambition, with stronger targets for mitigation and adaptation, but ordinary people do not have this internalised, and that is what we have to achieve with this strategy

In making progress on all these challenges, how useful are exchanges with other countries?

It is very important to be able to do these exchanges with other countries because in the end, each country has approached things in different ways. Perhaps we have advanced in some things a little more than others: for example, we have a national certification system for educational establishments, which is something that other countries do not have, but there are other countries that already have a strategy, as is the case with Colombia or the Dominican Republic. Perhaps we have advanced on some specific actions associated with sustainability, but we have to see what this exchange will allow us, to learn from the experience of Spain, France, Italy and other countries in the region, such as Argentina, Peru, Bolivia -which has a closer issue with indigenous communities, for example-. We can all learn from each other in this strategy, which is for all citizens.

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