The Challenges from Extreme Climate Events for Sustainable Development in Amazonia: the Acre State Experience
Thursday, 17 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
In the past ten years Acre State, located in Brazil´s southwestern Amazonia, has confronted sequential and severe extreme events in the form of droughts and floods. In particular, the droughts and forest fires of 2005 and 2010, the 2012 flood within Acre, the 2014 flood of the Madeira River which isolated Acre for two months from southern Brazil, and the most severe flooding throughout the state in 2015 shook the resilience of Acrean society. The accumulated costs of these events since 2005 have exceeded 300 million dollars. For the last 17 years, successive state administrations have been implementing a socio-environmental model of development that strives to link sustainable economic production with environmental conservation, particularly for small communities. In this context, extreme climate events have interfered significantly with this model, increasing the risks of failure. The impacts caused by these events on development in the state have been exacerbated by: a) limitations in monitoring; b) extreme events outside of Acre territory (Madeira River Flood) affecting transportation systems; c) absence of reliable information for decision-making; and d) bureaucratic and judicial impediments. Our experience in these events have led to the following needs for scientific input to reduce the risk of disasters: 1) better monitoring and forecasting of deforestation, fires, and hydro-meteorological variables; 2) ways to increase risk perception in communities; 3) approaches to involve more effectively local and regional populations in the response to disasters; 4) more accurate measurements of the economic and social damages caused by these disasters. We must improve adaptation to and mitigation of current and future extreme climate events and implement a robust civil defense, adequate to these new challenges.