Every year, academics, universities and research centers at the local and international levels produce information and make efforts to contribute to building public policies related to the trees, Efficient forest and land management. But in practice, the adoption and institutionalization of scientific knowledge by decision makers in the field is not a simple process.
What are the factors limiting this connection? How can it be addressed for a better collaboration between science and politics? These are some of the questions that prompted the dialogue between representatives of the environment, agriculture, development and cooperation sector of Peru during a special panel discussion at the event “Forests, trees and agroforestry to meet local and global challenges” organized by the Forestry International Research Center and the International Center for Agroforestry Research (CIFOR-ICRAF) in Lima, Peru.
The seminar was intended to promote discussion of joint efforts focused on forests and agro-forest landscapes in Peru, and included the participation of Marco Inchizo Hoyos, Director-General of the Directorate General of Forestry, Wildlife Policy and Competitiveness of the National Forest Service. and wildlife (Serfor); Milagros Sandoval Diaz, Director-General of Climate Change and Desertification and Director of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation at the Ministry of the Environment (MENAM); Fabiola Muñoz Dodero, Green Climate Fund Task Force Coordinator for Peru and former Minister of the Environment, former Minister of Agriculture and former Director of Server and Hector Cisneros Velardi, Director of the USAID Pro-Bosques Project.
Challenges and Obstacles
Peru has gone through a process of reforming its forest policies and the authorities are seeking scientific input and justification for appropriate adjustments. However, the information available and the time at which policies are developed do not always coincide.
“Twenty years ago, we had to make a very important decision to move forward with the implementation of the issue of forest concessions (contracts for sustainable use of forest resources) in the country and there was not enough information, for example, there was no forest inventory,” Fabiola Munoz stated. .
For the former Minister of the Environment and the former Minister of Agriculture, this example clearly reflects one of the factors limiting cooperation: the difficulty of formulating the research agenda that public policy needs with trends in research for development. He added, “The state must have a clear agenda of what is required in terms of investigation and informing the entities that generate evidence, and based on that, try to find this synergy and cooperation.”
In this regard, Hector Cisneros pointed out that the lack of effective mechanisms that put on the table the supply of science versus demand in this area, hampers adequate and clear prioritization of the issues that need to be addressed. For this reason, he emphasized that for those doing research, the key point is to recognize that it is the authority that makes the decisions and, therefore, that they must work hand in hand with the public sector, the private sector and local communities, among other actors. , so that intervention proposals respond to needs in a timely manner on the ground.
Among other obstacles, participants noted the difficulty of defining long-term policies due to constant changes in leadership in government agencies and consequently short periods of administration, which in many cases leads to a shift in priorities from one administration to another.
The time and budget factor
In addition to the need to formulate research and public policy agendas, speakers noted that another important aspect to consider is time.
Muñoz pointed out that “times are different in the public sector, cooperation and the private sector,” and added that “in the state, one makes his decisions every day and not only has to justify them in front of the citizen, but in front of the observer several times before. Representatives.”
For his part, Marco Inchizo noted that when evidence-based solutions reach government offices, other considerations such as budget constraints must be addressed: “We can have evidence-based solutions, but if there is no budget to implement them, it remains with good intentions.”
Lessons from San Martin
For decades, the forests and other natural ecosystems of Peru have been replaced or degraded at an increasing rate and the Amazon region of San Martin, It was historically one of the most deforested areas.
Despite the alarming numbers, in recent years the region has been able to significantly reverse this trend and in 2019, led the way in reducing forest loss in the country.
Milagros Sandoval noted that “the interest and drive that the region and its citizens have is undoubtedly the main driver of this process,” as one of the factors that have made San Martin a successful case for the conservation and sustainable use of forest resources. and agroforestry.
In addition to civil society, the Minam official highlighted the interest of various actors, such as cooperation and the private sector, to support the region and above all that this support “was well received and directed, because it is clear where you want to go to the region.” “Despite changes in the governor, San Martin has maintained the same line of reducing deforestation as a public policy objective,” Muñoz added.
As an example of a successful articulation between politics and science, several speakers highlighted the promotion of agroforestry in the region, work to which CIFOR-ICRAF contributed through Clevera multi-stakeholder platform that catalyzes the collective building of agroforestry knowledge to make better decisions at the regional level.
Advantages and opportunities
In addition to the progress made in the San Martín region, local actors at the national level are already making some efforts to shape research and policy agendas, as well as to overcome other barriers.
From Maenam, one such effort is reflected in the environmental research agenda, where Serfor has participated in and helped integrate the cause of forests and wildlife. “The idea is to define what we need in the ministry in terms of public policies and how that can be communicated to research centers and universities,” Sandoval explained.
Similarly, Enciso noted that coordination spaces are key to successful integration: “One of these spaces, for example, is the Forest Development Executive Board, which includes key actors such as the Ministry of Economy and where they have meticulously collected the needs and from this, now the regions have more budget” .
For his part, Hector Cisneros highlighted the importance of the opportunity inventory: “There are many initiatives that exist and have already started, but they need highly specialized technical assistance so that they can be accelerated and that practical knowledge becomes really policies.”
In order to support the work of national and local actors in Peru in a complementary and transformative way, Vincent Getz, Regional Director for Latin America CIFOR-ICRAF, highlighted four promising areas in which the organization’s research work could help. Climate change in the Andes and Amazon regions; maintaining and restoring the health of ecosystems; sustainable financing of the regions to support small producers in green and inclusive development paths; value chains and non-deforestation.
“The most important thing for us is to better coordinate our agenda, help Peru and national and local actors build long-term projects, programs and policies, and have the support of cooperation to achieve these purposes,” he said.
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