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Peru official: Time to boost evidence basis, pace of landscape-level policies

How can we bring scientific knowledge to public policy decision-making?
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Fabiola Muñoz-Dodero, Executive Director of the Peruvian National Forest and Wildlife Service: "the only way to ensure that these policies are used for their original purposes is to build them up in a participatory manner."
Fabiola Muñoz-Dodero, Executive Director of the Peruvian National Forest and Wildlife Service: “the only way to ensure that these policies are used for their original purposes is to build them up in a participatory manner.”

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LIMA, Peru–Making land-use policy decisions based on sound evidence is a fundamental part of public policy–and remains a fundamental challenge, according to a Peruvian environmental official who also warned that the pace of climate change was raising the urgency for action.

Speaking on 6 December at the Global Landscapes Forum in Lima, Fabiola Muñoz-Dodero, the Executive Director of the Peruvian National Forest and Wildlife Service, said that even with the best available scientific evidence, landscape decisions made by governments “look a bit different when they trickle down” and thus required broader participation from all stakeholders.

“When you go out into the field, you can see out in the regions the application of what had been decided was completely different,” she said. “And the only way to ensure that these policies are used for their original purposes is to build them up in a participatory manner with the regions, the indigenous communities.”

As the effects of climate change hasten, she said, “We are no longer in a time for rehearsals. We now have to get public policy decision-making to address this.”

Watch Muñoz-Dodero’s speech, above, or read an edited transcript, below.

Transcript of Fabiola Muñoz-Dodero’s speech:

We’re grateful for the invitation from CIFOR. … These three perspectives—the technical and the view which involves the political dimension, and finally the implementation which is what we’ve all spoken about on this basis of the landscapes approach. Not just the landscape as a geographical area, but the diversity and the different views, the differences between the interests. But also, looking at human rights, productivity, efficiency. One of the most important roles in these three dimensions is how you take decisions in public policy.

And if the decisions in public policy do not have sufficient argument, foundation, not enough information, research, to ground them—then we can go wrong. And this is one of the most important issues, and I think we have to discuss this. How to bring together scientific knowledge to public policy decision-making? Because you make decisions every single day. Not just in Peru, but throughout the world. And every decision has behind it, after it, some enormous impact on the challenge for implementation, which has been mentioned to us some times.

If it were only so simple as just as I've described, we wouldn't have the problems that we have

Fabiola Muñoz-Dodero

Policies and standards can be extremely good, very positive. But sometimes when they trickle down they look different, and this is an enormous challenge for our countries. I had the chance to work in the [Peruvian] states for 10 years. And then I left. Now I’ve come back again and so I know what the ministerial resolutions are about, and the supreme decrees can say. But when you go out into the field, you can see out in the regions the application of what had been decided was completely different. And there’s a central element in public policy which we’ve got to incorporate, which is citizens’ participation. And the only way to ensure that these policies are used for their original purposes is to build them up in a participatory manner with the regions, the indigenous communities.

And that will help us to build up better public policy, and will help us provide a better scenario for implementation. But this process isn’t easy. If it were only so simple as just as I’ve described, we wouldn’t have the problems that we have. This also involves a different focus, and this is the landscape focus in public policy. It’s a matter of, how do we stop looking at things through the sectors? And start really looking at how to administer territory and have an integrated political view?

Now, today for example, we have a minister of agriculture. I’ve seen him here. And we’re talking about the importance of involving the minister of finance. And we’re talking about how industry must improve, and how to generate clean energy sources. Now, this view, this comprehensive view, is the political dimension that we have to change towards. Because this is how we must change towards a landscape approach. We are complementary. We work together. And I’m not talking just about the sectors—the environment, agriculture, production, or social development. I’m talking about the regions as well, and local government. And that is where we have a greater challenge perhaps for closing the gaps.

This landscape view is something we have to establish, all of those who are responsible for making decisions

Fabiola Muñoz-Dodero

The gaps in education, capacity building, exclusion, the lack of access to information. And information has undeniable importance today for decision making and public policy. Information, whether it be scientific, traditional, or from research or from traditional information—traditional lore. And the way we’re going to build this public policy with this landscape approach is what is going to ensure success in the shortest time. And move on from walking to running. Because the sense of urgency that we have to have as well is indispensable. We are no longer in a time for rehearsals. We now have to get public policy decision-making to address precisely this.

What the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports have said, what the indigenous peoples are saying, and what we already know is happening. So public policy also has to address a new challenge, which is to be able to respond to the pace that climate change demands. And this landscape view is something we have to establish, all of those who are responsible for making decisions. Thank you.

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