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Community, Capacity and Coordination: why environmental management matters for sustainable development in Peru Blog

6 February, 2024

Author: Victor Neagu, Director of Communications and Marketing, Cowater International

I recently travelled to Peru for a series of closing events linked to the MEGAM Project. MEGAM is the Spanish acronym for “Improving Environmental Management of Mining and Energy Activities in Peru” – an 8-year, CAD $15.2 million initiative funded by Global Affairs Canada and implemented by Cowater International.

The project mission kept me on the road for eight full days, straddling from the breathtaking Andes of Puno to the historical town of Trujillo – Peru’s “cradle of liberty”, and from Lima’s refreshing ocean breeze to the tropical heat of Piura. As a child, I had wanted to visit Peru to satisfy my thirst for Inca history – a business card that draws annually millions of visitors from all over the world to this South American nation. As an adult and a development professional, I had the privilege of discovering a country shaped by expansive cultural richness and energized by the prospect of a more prosperous future.

Puno and surrounding regions are major mining areas in the Peruvian Andes

This week, as the Canadian development sector marks International Development Week 2024 – a celebration of Canada’s commitment to building a more inclusive and prosperous world – I took some time to reflect on the contribution of Canadian funding and Cowater’s expertise to building a more sustainable development path for Peru.

Unsurprisingly, much of Peru’s prosperity comes from its vast mineral resources. As one of the world’s largest producers of gold, silver, copper and zinc, the country’s natural endowment plays an important role in shaping its socio-economic trajectory. A dynamic mineral sector can benefit all Peruvians through higher public investments and better jobs, but delivering better opportunities for Peruvians today should consider the needs of tomorrow. Integrating sustainable approaches to mining and energy activities is a national priority for Peru and critical to preserving the country’s unique and diverse environment.

To support Peru’s commitment to strengthen environmental management, MEGAM Project partnered with the Peruvian Ministry of Environment, the Peruvian Ministry of Energy and Mines, the National Service for Environmental Certification and Sustainable Investments (SENACE), other national bodies, as well as five regional governments in the provinces of Apurimac, Arequipa, La Libertad, Piura and Puno, to tackle three major priorities.

Firstly, improve environmental assessment processes. One of the key changes introduced in this area has been the operationalization of the EVA platform by SENACE. EVA is a digital tool that facilitates the online evaluation of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and has contributed to strengthening inter-governmental coordination and information sharing in evaluating major projects that carry an environmental footprint. EVA has expanded beyond mining and energy to evaluate projects in the field of transportation, agriculture and other sectors, demonstrating strong national ownership in scaling-up an effective digital solution. To learn more about EVA, click here.

Secondly, strengthen environmental monitoring and supervision. Working with regional governments in Apurimac, Arequipa, La Libertad, Piura and Puno, MEGAM has introduced and trained technical staff at the regional level in the use of the Metalyzer equipment. Metalyzer monitors water quality in river basins affected by informal mining activities. The information is made available to regional authorities and provides the necessary data to tackle water contamination through awareness raising, community mobilization and control measures.

Thirdly, the project has supported a greater role for women and vulnerable groups in environmental management. In the town of Azangaro, which lies approximately 2.5 hours north of Puno, activist Guillermina Turpo spoke passionately to me about some of the key environmental concerns experienced in her region, primarily water pollution with arsenic and mercury resulting from informal mining. Guillermina is a member of the local Environmental Surveillance Committee (ESC), which was set up with support from MEGAM but has taken a life of its own and is now fully run by local community representatives. ESCs play a critical role in flagging environmental challenges to locally elected authorities and ensuring that key environmental considerations are included on the policy agenda for their localities.

In Peru, empowering communities, building institutional capacity for environmental supervision and monitoring, and strengthening coordination among government institutions are shaping new ways of tackling environmental challenges. As we reflect on the importance of sustainable environmental practices to a country’s long-term growth, I invite you to visit MEGAM’s website to learn more about the project’s contribution to Peru’s development journey.


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