Region Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie – State of Minas Gerais (Brazil): spreading “climate observatories” to help combat climate change (January 26, 2016)

As a major emerging country with an agricultural and forest economy, Brazil is actively committed to combating climate change. Its greenhouse gas emissions fell by 41% between 2005 and 2012, mainly through reduced deforestation and an increased share of renewables in the country’s energy mix. The country does, however, remain a victim of climate change, which could affect the geography of the country’s farming output (source: Brazil country file – Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry).

Minas Gerais, one of Brazil’s federal states with a population of about 20,595,500 (source: IBGE 2006) and a surface area of 588,528.3 km², has been engaged in combating climate change since 2005. In 2009, a decree confirmed the first efforts undertaken and aimed to manage greenhouse gas emissions. The same year, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Region and the state of Minas Gerais concluded a cooperation agreement, renewed in November 2013, on the theme of “discussing the framing and implementation of public policies supporting the ecological transition with a care for combating social and environmental inequalities.” The creation of a Local Climate-Energy Plan (PCET) for Minas Gerais has helped incorporate the various initiatives carried out to combat climate change at state level, centred around a common, shared instrument.

We spoke with Martine Benoist, Director of International and Regional Partnerships for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Region and co-leader of the project, after it was promoted during the round table “Local governments commit to climate action,” organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and held on 5 December 2015 in the COP21 Climate Generations areas.

What is a Local Climate-Energy Plan (PCET)?

A Local Climate-Energy Plan (PCET) is a sustainable territorial development project whose purpose is to combat climate change. The PCET was instituted by the National Climate Plan and appears in the Grenelle Acts. It provides a framework for territorial commitment and has two goals:

  • mitigation : limiting the impact of the local community on the climate by reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • adaptation : reducing the community’s vulnerability.

PCETs have quantified goals, and they have to be incorporated into the community’s political project and involve all players.

Illust: Belo Horizonte, (...), 386.7 kb, 1900x566
Belo Horizonte, the capital of the state of Minas Gerais, the third most populous city in the country behind São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, where climate issues are extremely important. Photo: ADEME

Latest developments

Under the call for “climate projects” launched by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development on 27November2014, the two partners have decided to prolong the momentum generated for climate action in Minas Gerais, based on the work already carried out under the PCET, through the development and adaptation to the Brazilian context of the “climate observatory” instrument as exists in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Region.

The creation of a “climate observatory” will help structure, analyse and share data on climate change. As developed in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Region, this tool monitors the effective implementation of the PCET while offering an overview on the issue of climate change.

As in all decentralized cooperation, the project needs to provide added value in both the cooperating communities, so both in Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie and in the state of Minas Gerais. In concrete terms, for the state of Minas Gerais, the creation of a “climate observatory” will provide a genuine information and planning tool and decision aid for the fight against climate change.

For Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie, this framework for exchange will help assess tools and practices so as to improve the Region’s own climate strategy. The state of Minas Gerais hopes to communicate widely on the benefits of this climate momentum with its people via the website pemc.meioambiente.mg.gov.br/pt, as well as during all events organized.

A “Clima Gerais” platform has been set up in order to enable the cities of Minas Gerais to find information and best practices for the fight against climate change. Given the scale and the number – 853 – of municipalities in the state of Minas Gerais, the challenge is to facilitate the communities’ implementation of projects to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and adapt to climate change.

Illust: The aim of a “climate, 165.2 kb, 1900x566
The aim of a “climate observatory” is to provide a genuine tool for information and planning across a given area (here, another, more rural landscape, at the heart of the valleys of Minas Gerais). Photo: ADEME

We spoke with Martine Benoist, Director of International and Regional Partnerships for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Region and co-leader of the project, after it was promoted during the round table “Local governments commit to climate action,” organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and held on 5 December2015 in the COP21 Climate Generations areas.

Could you briefly describe the key aspects of your project?

This project follows up work undertaken with the state of Minas Gerais since 2009. This cooperation work seeks to make the two regions “smarter”, more attractive and more resilient over the next 20-30years. The climate is a guiding thread in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Region. This project aims to create a “climate observatory” in Brazil, similar to that in our own Region, and thus involve academics in the project, as well as businesses and the economic partners of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Region. Local expertise centres and International Chambers of Commerce and Industry have been involved in the cooperation with the state of Minas Gerais since the signing of the first agreement in 2009.

For example, the expertise centre cd2e (Création Développement Éco-Entreprises) is a partner of the operation. This centre, created in 2002, is dedicated to supporting professionals (businesses, laboratories, communities) in the environmental sector in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Region, and specialized in the emergence of environment clusters and networks.

How has your long-term cooperation brought added value to this project?

Because we know one another and work on the same mode of multi-actor dialogue. The Regional Council alone does not provide all the expertise, as actors on both sides are involved, including from our Region and from the state of Minas Gerais. These actors include economic players, young people, institutions and climate experts.

In your opinion, what is original about this action?

Similarities in challenges and answers: in extremely different countries, we realize that climate issues are global and shared by all peoples, despite the marked differences between Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie and Minas Gerais. We realize that we are all affected by the same themes. We work far apart, on the same challenges, but enriched by the intercultural relationship.

What is expected to follow on from this cooperation?

We hope to ensure that this network continues and gains expertise. For example, there is currently work underway on agriculture and solar energy, which is particularly relevant in both our own Region and in Minas Gerais.

The actors involved

In France:

  • Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Region (project manager)
  • Emergence network (scientific and financial partner)
  • Experts Solidaires (association of experts in various fields supporting international solidarity)
  • Agency for the Environment and Energy Development (ADEME, French government agency supporting the ecological and energy transition)
  • The Research Centre for the Study of International Development (CERDD) seeks to mainstream sustainable development and climate change in new societal models. It was created in 2001 as a Public Interest Grouping (GIP) and is coordinated by the French Government, the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie Regional Council, and several local communities, associations and private partners.

In Brazil:

  • The Minas Gerais environment foundation (FEAM), which seeks to contribute to health and environmental protection in the state of Minas Gerais: http://www.feam.br/

This project was selected under the 2015 call for climate projects launched by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MAEDI), in partnership with the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy (MEDDE) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Agrifood and Forestry (MAAF), as well as the Schneider Electric Foundation, under the aegis of the Fondation de France.

More information in the section on “external action of local governments” of the France Diplomatie website (in French only)

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