Lima sees opening of a new climate change park that hopes to foster education and greater awareness of the global phenomenon, building on the success of the COP20 climate summit held in the Peruvian capital at the end of 2014.
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A new climate change “theme park” has been opened in the Peruvian capital Lima, with the goal of raising awareness about the challenges and consequences of climate change, and other environmental sustainability issues affecting Peru and the rest of the world.
The Voces por el Clima (Voices for the Climate) park is located on a five hectare site in the suburban district of Surco, and is the first of its kind in South America, according to Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, the Peruvian Environment Minister and President of last year’s COP20 climate summit held in the Peruvian capital, who was present at the inauguration event. The complex has been made from materials recycled from the COP20 summit held in Lima in December 2014, as well as from other environmentally-friendly materials such as recycled plastic bottles and metal containers, and (locally sourced) bamboo and wooden pallets that allow natural ventilation and lighting, thereby greatly reducing the amount of energy needed to keep the site running.
Perhaps the park’s most notable features are its five ‘interactive’ pavillions, each following a particular theme: Forests, Mountains & Water, Oceans, Energy, and Sustainable Cities. Each one contains interactive modules such as TV screens and 3D models that graphically represent the level of damage already done to these environments due to climate change, and the ways in which this can be reversed. As such, they are designed to spark greater awareness of this issue among the park’s visitors, and encourage them to ‘participate in the fight against climate change’, according to the venue’s organisers. The pavillions will also be used to host public gatherings and presentations related to the topic of climate change.
The park also features Recycling and Water Treatment plants, where waste from the Surco neighbourhood will be recycled at a rate of around 60 tonnes each day, while treatment of the River Surco, which flows through the park and surrounding district, will allow the irrigation of more than 200 of the other parks found around Lima. In addition, there are cycling machines that visitors can use to help power the park and recharge their mobile phones, as well as numerous solar panels to provide energy for the site on a more general basis.
The park is due to open in January, and will be free to the public. Speaking at the inauguration, Pulgar-Vidal said that the park is “a space that attempts to portray what climate change and its consequences really mean in an instructive way, so that members of the public can become fully aware of the problem and get involved in helping to find solutions”. The Mayor of Surco district, Roberto Gómez Bacca, added that the park is made “exclusively so that people can become more conscious of this issue and work together to save the planet”.
The park’s opening comes after the successful hosting of the COP20 summit in Lima, which has come to be credited by many as having had a crucial role in setting up global climate negotiations for a successful outcome in Paris earlier this month. Voces por el Clima was the name originally given to a parallel event run alongside the Lima summit that involved tens of thousands of climate activists and civil society organisations, and since the summit these groups have continued their advocacy work for climate action, so much so that the Peruvian government sees the new Voces por el Clima park as forming a core part of the summit’s legacy.
It also follows on from other Peruvian initiatives to educate general public about climate change – which could have devastating effects on Peru’s environment and society. A Climate Change Trail, established around one of Peru’s most visited glaciers to highlight the dangers that it and other tropical glaciers in the region are faced with due to rising temperatures, is one such example of a recent initiative launched by the Peruvian government, but the Voces por el Clima park should be even more accessible to the general public.
Initiatives such as the Voces por el Clima park and Climate Change Trail have an important role in broadening education about climate change in Peru, as the country is widely recognised as being among the most vulnerable in the world to the consequences of rising global temperatures. Perhaps the biggest threat that climate change poses to Peruvian society is the risk of increased water stress, due to changing rainfall patterns in areas that are already quite arid, and more importantly due to the melting of Peru’s tropical glaciers that are essential to the availability of water for people living not only in the Andean highlands and foothills, but also in the arid coastal cities such as Lima – home to almost 10 million people – which depend on the rivers that originate in the Andean peaks and their glaciers.
Already, Peru has lost around 40% of its glaciers over the last 40 years, and could lose up to another 80% of what’s left of them by 2050, as higher-altitude regions are susceptible to temperature rises well above the global average. Peru is home to 70% of the world’s tropical glaciers, and through the steady melting of ice during the drier and summer months they provide vital access to water for millions of Peruvians for consumption and irrigation. However, not only are they being exposed to higher temperatures, resulting in faster melting, but recent studies suggest that climate change could also lead to a 30% reduction in precipitation levels in the Andes by the end of this century, meaning that snowpacks will recover even more slowly.