The main institutions and more than 150 people foster local climate action and social justice at the Malaga for the Climate with the IPCC Forum and the Futuros Locales Festival – #MalagaClimaIPCC #LocalFutures
After intense days of presentations, discussion and networking, the “Malaga for the Climate with the IPCC Forum”, which counted with Professor Dr. Diana Ürge-Vorsatz of the IPCC from the United Nations via tele-conference (the UN Secretariat recommended not flying due to the Coronavirus outbreak), concluded on Saturday March 7 with the Festival “Local Futures: Economics of Happiness” at Rancho Limón in Cártama, Malaga (Spain). The organizers (Urban Environment Observatory -OMAU- of the Malaga City Council, University of Malaga -UMA-, La Noria – Malaga Regional Government, Futuros Locales, Libero Association), and collaborators (International Union for the Conservation of Nature – Center for Mediterranean Cooperation -IUCN Med-, Aula del Mar, Spanish Institute of Oceanography -IEO-, Málaga Viva, The Climate Journey, Ecoherencia), made it possible for more than 150 people from a wide variety of sectors to participate in a key first meeting, in order to share scientific, social and economic knowledge on the impacts, causes and solutions of the climate crisis in the city and province of Malaga.
The first session (OMAU) focused on the realm of “city and coast”, in addition to Diana, speakers included Susana Carillo (First Deputy Mayor), Pedro Marín and Paola Jiménez on behalf of OMAU, Andrés Alcántara of IUCN Med, Jesús Bellido of Aula del Mar and the IUCN Spanish Committee, Mari Carmen García of IEO, and Jesús Iglesias, Esther Moreno, Luis Jiménez, Christophe Pouplard, Omar Bongers and Pedro Blasco of Futuros Locales and The Climate Journey.
The second (UMA) dealt with the topic “university and youth“, with contributions from Diana, Patricia Mora (Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Smart-Campus), Félix López, and Juan Carlos Tójar on behalf of UMA, Léa Milleta and Miguel Fernández of Fridays for Future Malaga and the Futuros Locales team.
The third (La Noria – Malaga Regional Government) revolved around the “territory and rural-urban interface”, working on the climate crisis in the Mediterranean rural inland areas with Diana, Natacha Rivas (4th Vice-President of Malaga Regional Government), Enrique Salvo of UMA, Paola Jiménez of OMAU and the Futuros Locales team.
The fourth consisted of a Climate Journey through the city center to see firsthand, and on the ground the impacts, causes and solutions to the climate emergency in terms of collective local action.
Finally, the Forum concluded with the Festival “Local Futures: Economics of Happiness” at Rancho Limón (Cártama) of Líbero Association, in which “Futuros Locales” was launched as a sister project of LocalFutures.org, an international organization pioneer in the realm of local wellbeing economies. Within the program of activities, the book “El Futuro es Local” (Spanish version of “Local is Our Future”) was presented, and there were workshops on prehistoric ceramics and organic fertilizers, ecological local food for everyone, and several performances by local artists.
In general, the following conclusions were shared by most participants across all sessions: with regards to the impacts of the climate crisis, the Mediterranean is one of the hot spots worldwide, having already suffered an increase in temperature 20% higher than the global average; with the dire consequences that continuing on the current trajectory of unlimited economic growth and its corresponding ever-increasing carbon emissions could have, in terms of long super-hot periods, frequent heat waves, tropical nights, droughts, soil erosion, desertification, invasive species, sea level rise and torrential rains, all amplified by the wild urbanization and the “coastalization” of the population, with more than 8 million inhabitants along the Costa del Sol and the Alboran Sea.
However, both Diana from the IPCC as well as the other speakers strongly remarked that the necessary changes are still possible, that this potential dark future can still be avoided, although the window is closing quickly. In fact, a socio-economic paradigm shift is required, implying a profound cultural transformation, raising ambition and urgency to the level of the civilization-wide challenge we are facing. In short, the climate emergency demands to be treated as such, quite like the Coronavirus global pandemic. Thus, the need for effective political commitment to facilitate this transition was underscored, together with a notable improvement in the governance of the commons system, expanding democracy that must become direct and participatory, involving local communities and indigenous peoples, and under the leadership of an organized, active and mobilized civil society. To this end, citizens’ climate assemblies are recommended, already in operation in France and the United Kingdom, and mentioned as a priority both in Spain’s national emergency declaration and in Malaga city’s.
All these changes are capable of generating important benefits for human and ecosystem health, as well as for equity in the sense of social justice for the individuals and groups that have caused the problem the least, and are the most vulnerable to its impacts and transformations. Education, formal and non-formal, constitutes a key tool to this end, from the promotion of critical and free thinking for systemic change, to the greater and better training on the climate crisis, both specific and across-the-board, to all levels of trainers and teachers, particularly at the university. Also, the role of youth-led social movements such as Fridays for Future was highlighted, given how they contribute not only to raise awareness on the intergenerational injustice behind the climate crisis, but above all to channel the energy of a youth that struggles between anxiety about dark future scenarios and the direct and liberating action in the present. In the words of Miguel, one of its representatives: “A mixture of hope for learning about so many possibilities for change, and sadness for everything that hasn’t been done yet.”
Coming down to the level of concrete action pathways, there is great consensus on the benefits of Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) or natural solutions, both as carbon sinks (mitigation or reduction of emissions) and sources of thermal, acoustic and landscape comfort, and holistic health and wellbeing (adaptation and resilience), always from an ecosystem-based and adaptive approach, and aligned with the needs of the community and local biodiversity. NbS can be green or blue (marine) and, in the case of Malaga city and coast, they range from an urban forest (or more), a green ring, return of occupied areas to nature (de-urbanizing beaches, for example, as proposed by the College of Geographers), rewilding of rivers and the city in general, reforestating and repopulating watersheds, and in general restoring degraded ecosystems with native and well-adapted species, such as Posidonia meadows on the coast (excellent drains) or other natural barriers to protect sandy natural beaches in particular, 50% of which are already threatened worldwide. Likewise, at the marine level, the maintenance of observation systems is essential to understand the functioning of our seas, as well as to detect the intensity and direction of the changes taking place, and guide actions accordingly. The attention was drawn to the work of the emerging NbS Cluster, a public-private alliance between entities very diverse in nature (UMA, IUCN, PROMALAGA – City Council, SMEs, small organizations and professionals), endowed with the mission of promoting, advising and participating in the implementation of NbS in Malaga, the Andalusian coast and the western Mediterranean.
Other important measures in the urban sphere, several of which are reflected in the Malaga 2050 Climate Action Plan that the OMAU is promoting, in line with the climate emergency declaration made by the City Council on October 31, 2019, which pledges to reduce municipal emissions at a rate of 7% per year as required by science, comprise among others low emissions zones (restriction or full ban on traffic of polluting vehicles), already mandatory for municipalities over 50,000 inhabitants, “superblocks” (circulation of vehicles outside only) and expansion of pedestrian zones, compacting the city and diversifying its uses in the immediate environment, energy efficiency and renovation of buildings also emphasized by Diana, control and limitation of large facilities and polluting infrastructures such as the cement factory in La Araña neighborhood, the gas power plant in Campanillas, the airport and the port, all of which have to do with a city and economic model grounded in endless growth, a linear economy and a global scale.
In synthesis, so as to evolve towards a regenerative city in accordance with the foundations of natural metabolism and ecology, the Forum advocates for closing the cycle of the economy (circular economy), renewing, regenerating and linking urban systems with natural ecosystems. Likewise, since the climate crisis does not affect all people equally, it is mandatory to guarantee a just transition that catalyzes social cohesion, redistributes employment and wealth, and eradicates economic precariousness via mechanisms such as universal basic income. In this sense, multiple fiscal policies are also proposed aiming to end fossil fuel subsidies, raising environmental taxes progressively and proportionally to income and pollution, and strongly promoting distributed renewable energy through unambiguous incentives.
In the rural world, to combat desertification, reverse soil degradation, ensure food security, drastically reduce emissions from agriculture, forestry and land use (1/3 of the total globally) and adapt to potential climate scenarios, the following practices are essential according to the IPCC: reforestation, sustainable forest management, plant-based diets, agroecology and regenerative agriculture including crop diversification and rotation, symbiosis with grazing, micro-irrigation and water harvesting, elimination of food and agricultural waste, and in general appropriate land use. Furthermore, indigenous peoples and traditional cultures possess vital knowledge for adaptation to a changing climate, like endogenous seeds and varieties, for instance.
Lastly, in order to mobilize a critical mass, regenerate the social fabric and build equity and sovereignty in communities, collective local action with a big-picture perspective constitutes the way. The thread that connects the roots of most problems and their systemic solutions is the economy, its priority and scale. On the side of the problems we find the globalized economy fixated on endless economic growth. On the solutions side, local economies focused on the wellbeing of communities and ecosystems. Consequently, our task remains to localize the economy and rethink how we understand and assess the progress, success, and impact of our actions at all levels (families, companies and organizations, governments, societies), based on standards of quality and dignity of life that are equitable, and all within our territories’ biophysical carrying capacities. Specifically, at the urban-rural interface, short loops and direct interaction between producers and consumers allow to greatly reduce emissions from global trade, provide fresh seasonal food, and therefore health, and create deep bonds and a sense of belonging to a collective life project. As Local Futures and Futuros Locales put it: “local is the key to both our future and our”. To pre-order the book “El Futuro es Local” (Local is Our Future), and contribute to its publication, please take part in this crowdfunding campaign: http://vkm.is/futurolocal
#MalagaClimaIPCC Aula del Mar Climate action Climate crisis Climate emergency Climate Science Diana Ürge-Vorsatz Diputación de Málaga Ecoherencia Futuros Locales Instituto Español de Oceanografía IPCC IUCN IUCN Med La Noria Local Futures Málaga Malaga for the Climate with the IPCC Forum Málaga Viva OMAU Rancho Limón Social Justice The Climate Journey