Elections 2021, vote green!
Author: Francois Guzmán
Last week #vacunagate —one of the biggest scandals in Peru in recent years— was uncovered in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and, among its protagonists, public officials in senior management positions with decision–making power, such as the former president Vizcarra are found. Nevertheless, this is not the only great case of corruption of the century, nor of the year, nor even of the last presidential term. The last democratic years in Peru have been covered with corruption scandals; and for this reason, it is not surprising to see that the latest polls indicate the fight against corruption as a priority issue to be tackled by the candidates' proposals in the 2021 General Elections.
However, beyond the well–supported claim to fight corruption, there is also the often-overshadowed environmental issue. It is necessary to bear this matter in mind if the pandemic we are currently experiencing is to be seen as a possible consequence of climate change, a phenomenon that has been affecting our planet for decades. That being the case, political actions and support for environmental treaties such as the ratification of the Escazú Agreement should be political proposals endorsed by the candidates running for the presidential seat and by the political parties running for public office. On top of that, Peru has been classified by the Tyndall Center in England as one of the most vulnerable countries in the face of climate change, which involves not only potential environmental consequences, but also social and economic ones. The presence of hydrometeorological phenomena related to the El Niño phenomenon, the mega climatic diversity, the valuable ecological richness, among others, imply that any negative environmental effect in our country would have repercussions on the entire planet.
Thereby, the Government Plan Summary format published by the National Elections Jury (JNE in Spanish) specifies that they must be based according to the 6 axes established by the Bicentenary Plan, the sixth being: Natural resources and the environment. Likewise, the summary of the Government Plan must consider 4 dimensions: social, economic, ENVIRONMENTAL, and social. Therefore, the revised government plans of the 18 political parties with presidential candidates plus FREPAP, which only has a congressional list, make mention of various environmental actions to be implemented if elected.
Among the most mentioned environmental issues in government plans the following are found: the fight against illegal logging, the promotion of clean renewable energies, the care and protection of watersheds and macro-watersheds to ensure water quality, optimization of solid waste management including recovery and recycling processes, and an improved urban development and land–use planning, all of which are mentioned in at least half of the parties. On the other hand, issues such as sanctions against companies that have poor environmental management, the promotion and use of technology and science to solve the environmental challenges that Peru faces, and the inclusion of native peoples and rural communities in the decision-making process are mentioned or quoted only in two or three parties out of nineteen.
The following tables show the position of the parties on various environmental issues:
Note: This information was compiled from the platform #DecideBien Government Plans of Asociación Civil Transparencia.
The last Peruvian governments have shown that many of the campaign promises and projects embodied in the political parties’ government plans have not materialized due to lack of political will or due to the existence of external pressure from various sectors. On that account, it can be concluded that it is necessary to know the previous performance of the political parties that were part of the Executive or Legislative power on issues related to the protection of the environment:
In October of last year, the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Congress filed the Escazú Agreement —which guaranteed access to information to all citizens, public participation and justice in environmental matters, with intercultural and gender approaches. Congressmen and congresswoman from Somos Perú, Partido Morado and Frente Amplio supported its ratification, while congressmen and congresswoman from Fuerza Popular, Acción Popular, Alianza para el Progreso, Podemos Perú, UPP, and FREPAP rejected the agreement.
On December 5, 2018, the bill to reduce single-use plastic was passed by majority on the Congress. However, Daniel Salaverry —presidential candidate for Somos Peru— and Esther Saavedra —former congresswoman of Fuerza Popular— did not cast a ballot.
All these parties: Fuerza Popular, Acción Popular, Alianza por el Progreso, Somos Perú, UPP and FREPAP have proposals for improving environmental quality and planning of climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. Nonetheless, due to their previous attitudes and past votes on critical issues, it was clear that they turned their backs on all Peruvians, especially on environmental advocates.
Thereupon why it is important to know that, although government plans may elucidate doubts regarding the direction that a political party intends to take on a certain issue, it is also essential to remember that a piece of paper will take whatever you write on it without protesting, and at the same time, we must not to forget their past actions. Moreover, if our presidential or congressional candidate has not yet spoken out on an issue of interest, as voters it is our obligation to call for their political stance and be vigilant that they comply with it in case they ever hold public office.
Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria – BBVA (2019). Peru: The consequences of not acting on climate change. Retrieved on August 23rd, 2019, from Climate Change: https://www.bbva.com/es/pe/peru-las-consecuencias-de-no-actuar-frente-al-cambio-climatico/
Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental – SPDA (2019). What does the Escazú Agreement mean for Peru and why is its ratification important? Retrieved on January 4th, 2019, from Actualidad Ambiental: https://www.actualidadambiental.pe/que-significa-el-acuerdo-de-escazu-para-el-peru-y-por-que-es-importante-su-ratificacion/
Wayka.pe (2020). Congress rejected the Escazú Agreement. Retrieved on October 20th, 2020, from Actualidad: https://wayka.pe/grafica-congreso-rechazo-acuerdo-de-escazu/
El Comercio (2021). Elections 2021: proposals to strengthen government plans. Retrieved on February 2nd, 2021, from El Comercio - Política: https://elcomercio.pe/politica/elecciones/elecciones-2021-propuestas-para-fortalecer-los-planes-de-gobierno-noticia/?ref=ecr