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September 22, 2014—Ambassador of Ecuador to the United States, Nathalie Cely, along with Ecuador’s Minister of Environment, Lorena Tapia, participated in the Sustainable Development Network’s discussion group, a global initiative of the United Nations, at an event held at the Earth Institute of Columbia University in New York City.

World leaders, private sector representatives, and scientists also participated in the event to discuss the approaches and scientific answers in the long term to provide solutions to climate change.

The world has agreed not to exceed 2 degrees Celsius increase in the global temperature, since it would bring unprecedented harmful effects for the planet. To achieve this, world and business leaders committed to the call to implement national strategies and articulate a long-term international cooperation to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change. The discussion panel recognized the important role of governments and the private industry, which urgently need a higher degree of commitment to reduce carbon emission in their operations. Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute of Columbia University, made a strong call to the United States for it to join global efforts against climate change through deep carbon reduction of its economy, especially its energy and transport systems.

Additionally, Ambassador Nathalie Cely participated in the closing event of the summit of the United Nations, in which the book “Addressing Climate Change” by photographer Henry Dallal’s was presented. During this event, Ecuador was recognized as the Latin American country with major advances in the fight against climate change.

Ambassador Cely noted that the position of Ecuador on these matters is based on the Ecuadorian Constitution of 2008, in which the rights of nature are recognized. Additionally, she stressed that Ecuador has designed and begun to implement policies under the National Development Plan and the Change of the Production and Energy Matrixes, to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, reduce deforestation and to help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

Today, the Government of Ecuador is building 8 hydroelectric plants that will be fully operational in 2017, with a capacity to produce 2827 MW. This represents an investment of more than 8.460 million USD, aimed for sustainable development and climate change mitigation.

The clean electricity to be generated will be used for other programs that contribute to the national policy to change the energy matrix. One example of this is the program that seeks to promote efficient cooking in the majority of Ecuadorians homes, where kitchens that now require LPG will be exchanged for induction stoves that will work with electricity generated by the new hydroelectric plants. With this replacement, for many Ecuadorian households the most important source of energy will cease to be of fossil origin. These, among other measures, will account for the country to reduce its emissions in the energy sector to 39% in contribution to mitigating climate change.

Ecuador’s policies on forestry are also generating results in terms of climate change. “Socio Bosque” Program promotes conservation of native forests in Ecuador. This program is to provide incentives to those owners of private and collective land who voluntarily commit themselves for a period of 20 years to conserve forests in their territories. Currently, progress is being made for the contribution of these policies to be recognized in terms of climate change mitigation, REDD +.

Furthermore, it is noteworthy that one of the goals in Ecuador is the restoration of 500.000 hectares of forest by 2017 that seeks the conservation and restoration of ecosystem services and sustainable management of forest resources. Through the National Forest Restoration Plan, which is based on a policy of governance of natural resources, in 2014 100.000 hectares have been reforested, a joint effort at public and private level.

Representatives of the Shuar Federation of Ecuador, Augustine Wachapá and Juan Carlos Jindiachi also participated in the event and shared through an emotional speech, an urgent call to collective action to address climate change. “Only when there is no water to drink, no air to breathe, we will realize the damage we have generated,” said the representatives of the Shuar Federation.