ALARI Seminar Series with Luis Gilberto Murillo: Environmental and Climate Policy: Differential approach for Afro-descendant People in the Americas


Friday, December 3, 2021, 12:00pm

This event is virtual, to register click here.

Speaker: Luis Gilberto Murillo, ESI´s MLK fellow, and former Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia
Moderated by: Alejandro de la Fuente, Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin American History and Economics; Professor of African and African American Studies and of History; Director, Afro-Latin American Research Institute, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research

Conservation models that reinforce nature-human dichotomies are being challenged by emerging evidence on the effectiveness of community-based conservation, particularly in Afro-descendant and indigenous collectively owned lands. Much of the natural wealth in the Americas is located in the territories of Afro-descendants and Indigenous communities. These areas and communities provide vital environmental services, including biodiversity conservation, and carbon capture and sequestration and are therefore central to generate effective and integrated responses to the climate and biodiversity loss crises. The effects of climate change represent an ever-greater threat to these communities and at the same time an opportunity to promote a resilient and sustainable transformation towards the well-being of these populations. Climate and environmental policies are critical in reaching this goal. This series of conversations will bring together practitioners, mainly current and former policymakers, local, civil society and government leaders, and community innovators, to discuss issues at the intersection of environmental and climate policy and Afrodescendant communities’ development priorities in the Americas. The series will provide a platform to discuss the achievements and challenges of formulating and implementing a differential approach to respond appropriately to environmental challenges and local priorities while empowering Afro-descendant communities. The effects of climate change represent a great threat to the Afro-descendant population of the Americas, as these have exacerbated the conditions of vulnerability and exposure to the compounding risks of environmental and socio economic injustices. At the same time, these communities are uniquely positioned to lead in a range of Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) because they inhabit areas of strategic environmental importance in the region and the hemisphere. This strategic socio-cultural geographic area is what we have called the Afro-descendant Natural Belt of the Americas (ANBA). Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) have the potential to provide over one-third of carbon mitigation necessary for a 2 and 1,5-degree global warming target. Therefore, there is no effective global or regional climate response without the contribution of the natural heritage of the Afro-descendant communities of Latin America and the Caribbean, and in general of the Western Hemisphere. The benefits of these solutions go well beyond environmental and climate issues and include aspects of territorial governance, security, peace, inclusion, and socioeconomic well-being. The case of Colombia illustrates the intersection of environmental and climate policies and the differential approach to the land rights of ethnic and racial minorities. In recent decades, Colombia has become a regional and global leader on policies to further the autonomy of Afro-Colombian communities, promote sustainable livelihoods, reduce deforestation, and conserve biodiversity. Among other innovative policies, in 1993 the country passed Law 70, which created a legal pathway for Afro-Colombian communities to receive collective title to historically occupied territories in rural areas. This groundbreaking law offered an innovative way to advance four key goals: racial justice, economic autonomy, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation.

Presented in collaboration with Afro-Latin American Research Institute at the Hutchins Center (ALARI) and MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative