Tag Archives: Enrique Ortiz

Environment  Mongabay: Colombia, an example to world, balances conservation and development — a Q&A

Interviewing Colombia's minister of the environment on Sept. 21 at the headquarters of National Geographic. Photo by Enrique Ortiz

Interviewing Luis Murillo, Colombia’s minister of the environment, at the headquarters of National Geographic. Photo by Enrique Ortiz, Andes Amazon Fund

On Sept. 21, 2017, in Washington, D.C., I had the unique opportunity to interview one of the leaders of environmental protection in Latin America – Luis Murillo, the minister of the environment and sustainable development in the cabinet of President Juan Santos. Murillo was in DC that day for a ceremony sponsored by National Geographic honoring Santos for his aggressive action in doubling the amount of protected areas in his biodiverse country — from coral reefs to high-mountain rain forests — since taking office in 2010. My interview with Murillo preceded the event and was an exclusive for Mongabay. The story link is here.

In the weeks prior to my DC sojourn, I spent hours immersed in studying Colombian environmental politics, Santos’ environmental record, his controversial peace accord with the FARC that ended a 50-year civil war and earned him the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, and as much as I could about Murillo. Haley Weibel, a communications specialist with the Andes Amazon Fund in DC, was instrumental in providing key material for me to read. My good friend Enrique Ortiz, program director with the fund, provided critical insight about Santos, Murillo and the myriad challenges to their environmental legacy.

My time with Murillo was limited, so we wasted no time jumping into deep end of the issues I wanted to discuss. He was a pleasure to talk with. He spoke with great candor and insight, and never ducked when I asked him pointed questions. He knows what’s at stake in setting aside so much land in Colombia — land that just below the surface is rich with fossil fuels and precious metals. He made it clear that he believes his developing country has a moral obligation to not plunder these critical ecosystems for short-term economic gain. But he stressed that the world’s wealthiest nations should feel compelled to support Colombia financially so that it can actually protect and preserve all the land Santos has set aside for future generations. Extraction industrialists will only sit on the sidelines for so long.  Deforestation in Colombia since the end of the civil war is already escalating. My interview with Murillo gets into such thorny issues and more. My thanks to Mongabay founder Rhett Butler for assigning me the story.

 

Environment  Mongabay.com: Pope’s encyclical draws support from Peru’s #1 environmental official

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal is Peru's minister of the environment, and among the most most influential climate change policy makers. Photo by Emilia Catanoso

Manuel Pulgar-Vidal is Peru’s minister of the environment, and among the most most influential climate change policy makers. Photo by Emilia Catanoso

I remember Manuel Pulgar-Vidal well from the UN Climate Summit in Lima in December 2014. He was seemingly everywhere, certainly at every press conference. He was friendly and accessible. I was offered to interview him the day COP20 opened, but declined; I could not get to Lima so soon.

In mid-July, 2015, through the high-level connections of Enrique Ortiz, my fixer and interpreter for two weeks in Puru, I got an hour with the minister. He had studied he encyclical and had a lot to say about it. He was less keen on discussing the Tia Maria copper mine in southern Peru. It was a great interview, linked here, and I’m glad mangabay.com chose to run this and two others.

Mongabay Edior Glenn Scherer’s summary: 

1, Peruvian Environmental Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal hosted COP20 in Lima, and will play a leading role at Paris COP 21 in December.
2. He praises the Pope’s controversial encyclical written in “the language of a poet, with the precision of an engineer, and by a leader with the moral authority to have influence.”
3. “We [will] have an agreement in Paris,” says the minister. Obama, China, France, Peru, many nations want it. “The political moment is key, and this papal document is very helpful.”
More photos by Emilia Catanoso from the interview and just before:
Hanging out with an Indian tribe outside his office. Photo by Emilia Catanoso

Hanging out with an Indian tribe outside his office. Photo by Emilia Catanoso

During the interview. Photo by Emilia Catanoso

During the interview. Photo by Emilia Catanoso

Not too happy in the direction change of the interview. Photo by Emilia Catanoso

Not too happy in the direction change of the interview. Photo by Emilia Catanoso

Environment  Peru’s first-ever high-resolution carbon map could help the world breathe easier

To put an accurate price on carbon, you need to know how much you have and where it’s located, researchers say. Stanford University scientists have produced the first-ever high-resolution carbon geography of Peru, a country whose tropical forests are among the world’s most vital in terms of mitigating the global impact of climate change. Click here for the whole story at National Geographic NewsWatch.

Photo courtesy Greg Asner