As the world prepared to converge in Cancun for another UN conference on climate change, I was headed to the Yucatan peninsula – land of the Mayan empire ruins – to write about what The Nature Conservancy is doing there to fight “cambio climatico.”
Despite rather low expectations for the United Nations process, our in-country colleagues insisted there is good work happening, and good stories to tell from Mexico. And so, we (photographer Erika Nortemann and our host Fernando Secaira of the TNC Mérida office) were on a tight schedule to visit examples of places where emerging climate change policies touch the ground:
- A communally managed tropical forest where conservation grants similar to incentives for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) were providing alternative sources of income for struggling rural communities.
- A coastal/marine project where there is potential for “ecosystem-based adaptation” – or using nature to help people prepare for the adverse effects of climate change.
During my five-day trip, one theme emerged: Each place I visited was a case study in how intricately climate change is tied up with economics.
I was constantly reminded that if we are to make any progress on the issue, we must address people’s ability to make a living and raise their families in ways that produce less carbon, and otherwise avoid destroying the planet.
Lisa Hayden is climate change writer for The Nature Conservancy
Photo by: Erika Nortemann/The Nature Conservancy (Lisa Hayden on the right, eating with a family during her recent trip to Mexico.)
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