Report on the Annual National Meeting of the Canadian Environmental Network (RCEN)
As part of the Canada-Chile Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (CCAEC) and through the Joint Public Advisory Committee, two Chilean NGOs were invited to attend the 5th Annual National Meeting of the Canadian Environmental NGO Network (RCEN).
The organizations selected for this CCAEC event were the Instituto de Ecología Política (IEP) [Political Ecology Institute], which was represented by Mr. Pablo Espinoza. Isabel Lincolao Garcés attended on behalf of the Red Nacional de Acción Ecológica (RENACE) [National Ecological Action Network].
During the meeting, both representatives were given access to all the sessions that took place, both to those of specific chapters as well as the plenary sessions.
Also, they were able to attend a meeting of ENGOs with Canada’s Environment Minister, where they had an opportunity to express the position of the Chilean NGOs regarding the rejection by both Chilean representatives of Canadian interest in assisting in providing nuclear technology to Chile.
Also, they were able to take part as speakers at one of the dinners to express their views on the challenges of Chilean NGOs in the future and activities that both representatives hoped to be able to carry out together to mutually strengthen our organizations.
For more information, the agenda of the sessions is attached.
Assessment of the event
Since this was the first time the two participants attended a meeting of this kind, they were greatly impressed by the courtesy with which they were treated and the desire to involve them, giving them an opportunity to participate and express their views when their role was simply to observe.
At most of the sessions and particularly the plenary sessions (there were three: one on youth involvement, one on climate change and one on influence on government organizations) there were materials prepared expressly for the session, of very high technical quality, which made the contributions very relevant and pertinent.
The methodological framework used at this meeting was focused on participation and cooperation, making it possible to develop capabilities and formulate operational plans, stressing information and its dissemination.
The workdays were structured according to two clearly defined topics: one for the operational topic (the meeting) with the election of officers and the joining of new members; and another in a more institutional framework prioritizing the development of strategies on participation and policies related to the prioritized topics (topics such as water, agriculture and water, forests, mining and chemicals). These topics focused on sustainable development. The most prominent topics during the entire workday were Climate Change and Energy.
The proposals put forth concerning energy revealed a great concern with the implementation of energy policies and provided a look at what kind of energy is required in Canada.
It is interesting that the organization was set up in chapters, with a session of each chapter being held during the event.
Opinion on the applicability of an organization similar to the CEN in Chile
In Chile, there are organizations like those making up the RCEN, but they do not have government funding as this Canadian network does. It is important to consider that although the RCEN is the largest environmental NGO coordination network in Canada, it is not the only one, just as there are various coordination organizations in Chile.
It is important that there be an organization of this kind in Chile, given the need to coordinate grassroots environmental organizations and the possibility of those organizations channelling and strengthening their action.
It is recommended that the government provide funding for activities enhancing the actions of those organizations, particularly RENACE, as is done in Canada. Such funding might be provided based on the Terms of Reference agreed upon by the two governments and NGOs within the framework of the CCAEC Committee.
Points of view on Canada’s climate change programs
An important factor to consider is that COP-11 will be held in Canada in late November 2005. Thus, the discussion during the event concentrated on topics related to climate change. However, in parallel with the RCEN meeting, there was another Canadian climate change network that brought together numerous organizations from across the continent.
The RCEN developed a position that will be presented during COP-11 as the official position of Canadian environmental organizations on the subject. For this, it produced a base document that brings together knowledge on the subject and the positions of environmental NGOs on this point.
Some of the points considered in the position to be presented are:
- Setting gross reduction goals and not allowing the use of intensity goals at the national level
- Developing an industrial infrastructure for energy efficiency and renewable energy
- Maximizing the use of green energies
- Gradual reduction of GHG emissions
- Elimination of all subsidies and other financial support for fossil fuel and nuclear industries
- Capturing and storing carbon is not a permanent solution to climate change since it allows for the continued use of coal and oil
- Nuclear energy has no place or future in the Canadian energy and climate change strategy
- Reject the alliance of the United States, India, China, South Korea, Japan and Australia opposed to setting limits and reducing emissions
- Reject the use of nuclear energy as a valid alternative for mitigating climate change.
On the government’s side, a compromise position was developed for meeting goals, which was reflected in the publication of a Plan detailing the Canadian Government’s commitments to the Kyoto goals.
The participation of the two Chilean representatives increased understanding of the way in which the CEN works and facilitates the participation of NGOs in government processes. Also, funding by the Canadian government of civil society participation in the COP-11 and based on working agreements on matters of importance for the government was considered very positive.
Areas of common interest found during conversations and presentations
- Review of the environmental impacts created by the higher level of activity generated by the Canada-Chile Agreement
- Environmental monitoring of the operation of Canadian companies working in Chile to ensure that they meet standards similar to those of Canada in Chile
- Specifically, the areas of mining, forest operations and salmon were mentioned
- Establishment of capabilities to allow the participation of small projects grouped into Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanisms
- Generation of abilities to develop sustainable energy generation facilities (particularly green electricity)
- Organization and development of seminar/workshop-type climate change activities
- Discussion of civil society’s position in the post-Kyoto era
- Strengthening and support for Canadian participation (observers and professional capabilities for analyzing and observation of SEIAs)
- Development of capabilities to oppose the implementation of nuclear energy in Chile.
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