Cuidades Sustentables

The South American Chaco

The South American Chaco region is the second-largest bio-region in Latin America after the Amazon, covering close to 1 million square kilometers in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and a small corner of Brazil. It is a region with rich social and environmental diversity.


In spite of the very different characteristics of the countries that share it, the people of the Chaco face similar problems and challenges: the low priority of their region for national governments, the general poverty of the rural population, a growing process of urbanization, and an antiquated economy based on natural resource extraction, among others.


For more than 10 years, AVINA has worked to strengthen collaborative networks and peer relationships among leaders, organizations and communities within the Chaco region of each country, as well as to build a common vision for environmental, economic, social and cultural priorities across borders. AVINA has allied itself with a number of organizations that promote social inclusion, equity and better quality of life for the “chaqueños” (as inhabitants of the Chaco are known).

More recently, AVINA has focused its support on building a more sustainable economy in the South American Chaco, promoting inclusive, green and responsible business ventures alongside effective mechanisms for the conservation of natural resources. A key piece of this strategy is the creation of a regional platform to exchange know-how and to incorporate indigenous and rural communities into the process of defining the Chaco’s social and economic future.


Towards Quality Education in
Latin America

Based on AVINA’s decision to organize its support for education according to a continental approach, its education team, made up of staff from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay, is working to build an integrated strategy capable of contributing to the goal of better quality education in Latin America. A common thread running through education-related initiatives supported by AVINA up to now has been the idea of education as a human right, a public good and an indispensable foundation for sustainable development. A mapping of actions and actors in this area begun in 2009 is offering a rich bounty of advances and lessons learned to be analyzed and shared.


Climate Change and Policy-Making

Today climate change is a conditioning factor for sustainable development. Its impact is already detectable in Latin America: melting glaciers, extended droughts, irregular rainfall, floods, coral reef die-off, rising tides, rural exodus, spread of disease and changes to economic competitiveness. These are just the first effects of climate change in the region.


With 11% of the global population, Latin America is responsible for 8% of global CO2 emissions. Over half of this is due to deforestation, although emissions from other causes are growing, such as in transportation, where they grew at twice the rate of OECD countries. According to the International Energy Agency, in 2008 the production of greenhouse-gas emissions in Latin America grew at a rate above the world average.


In order to reduce and mitigate the emission of greenhouse gases and promote adaptation to the effects of climate change, the region must face a whole new level of complexity. Responding to these challenges demands an architecture of governance that enables the generation, implementation and coordination of adequate national, regional and international policies. It is a difficult but vital task. AVINA has formed alliances across countries and sectors to promote governance mechanisms to make a new policy framework more viable.


An important objective of the strategy is to elevate climate change on the public policy agenda through pressure from a community of influential economic and social actors. This process is building initial experience in the negotiation of shared agendas for action, the promotion of legislation, training of key actors, communication campaigns and the formation of new alliances.

Antonio Guachama, a Guarani Indian from the Bolivian community of San Antonio in Villa Montes, guiding his boat through Bañados de la Estrella in Argentina's Formosa Province. These wetlands, one of the most important in Latin America, are proposed as Biosphere Trinational Reserve.



Latin American Climate Platform is created

The Latin American Climate Platform (Plataforma Climática Latinoamericana - PCL) was launched with AVINA support. In its first six months it succeeded in mobilizing approximately 400 organizations in Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay to participate in national climate debates. The PCL participated in the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, where it gained global visibility and extended its international network.


Toward the end of 2009, AVINA brokered the incorporation of PCL’s secretariat, Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (FFLA), into the consortium that won a bid to develop a worldwide Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDK Network) with support from Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID).


This consortium is coordinated by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and made up of FFLA, Infosys Technologies Ltd, LEAD International, the Overseas Development Institute, SouthSouthNorth, International NGO Training and Research Center (INTRAC) and Microsoft. The first phase of the initiative will last five years, with a £40 million investment to offer critical understanding, research and advisory services to governments regarding climate change, generating and sharing high-quality knowledge products.


Latin America, fertile ground for “Fe y Alegría”
In the last decade the Fe y Alegría educational movement (Movimiento de Educación Popular Integral y Promoción Social Fe y Alegría – Fe y Alegría) increased its programs by nearly 60%, from 910,000 students in 15 Latin American countries to 1.5 million in 19 countries. In fact, its teaching model has now crossed the Atlantic Ocean, where it is being replicated in the Republic of Chad in central Africa.


This unprecedented expansion was possible thanks to the support and coaching of the Centro Magis. AVINA and Centro Magis have worked together for 10 years to strengthen Fe y Alegría as an institution and a network of quality schools in the poorest pockets of Latin America, leading to new alliances and an increase in its influence on education policy in many countries. During this time, Fe y Alegría has become an educational reference point in the region. In Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador it is participating in the process of designing curricula, law, regulations and educational policy.


According to a NASA study, the melting of the ice in Patagonia, which has caused a 10% rise in sea level, has accelerated in recent years. It is estimated that 40 million people in Latin America will have water access problems due to the snowmelt in the Andes.