Cablegate: Peru Environment Minister Lists Priority Concerns and Hopes

Published: Wed 25 Nov 2009 08:57 PM
DE RUEHPE #1836/01 3292058
R 252057Z NOV 09
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Peru Environment Minister Lists Priority Concerns and Hopes
for Collaboration (Corrected Copy)
1. (U) SUMMARY: On November 2, Post's ESTH bilateral and regional
teams met Environment Minister Antonio Brack, to formally introduce
the new ESTH Officer for Peru and the ESTH Hub Officer for South
America, as well as to discuss priority environmental issues for
Peru and the Region. We engaged in a friendly and candid
discussion with this minister who this summer survived a major
cabinet change. He provided us with his views on environmental
concerns, his goals for improving environmental policy in Peru, and
a more precise viewpoint on genetically modified organisms than he
usually articulates in the press. End Summary.
2. (U) The Ministry of Environment (MINAM) officials included
Antonio Brack Egg, Minister of Environment, Patricia Fernandez
Davila, Head of Advisors of the Ministry of Environment and Julio
Oca????a, Advisor of the Ministry of Environment.
Peru's Key Environmental Issues
3. (U) Brack was asked to identify the key environmental issues
facing Peru. He replied with the following:
A. Liquid waste management, which he described as the main cause
of contamination in Peru.
B. Solid waste management was of approximately equal concern.
Brack noted that only 17% of solid waste is currently being
C. Air contamination in large cities such as Lima. Brack
mentioned that beginning Jan 2010, sulfur content in diesel will be
reduced from the current 5,000 parts per million (PPM) to 50 PPM
for the Lima and Callao areas. (COMMENT - Diesel fuel containing
5,000 PPM of sulfur will still be permitted in other Peruvian
regions. This will probably result in Lima and Callao air quality
not reducing to desired levels, given the significant
transportation links between Lima and other parts of Peru. A
progressive timeline for sulfur reduction for the remainder of the
regions in Peru must still be developed by the Ministry of Energy
and Mines (MEM) - END COMMENT. ) He added that in 2010, the GOP
would establish a program to purchase and destroy old cars that
pollute excessively; seeking to replace them with new natural gas
units. He noted that 192 million Nuevo soles (US$66 million) has
already been assigned for implementation of the program.
D. Mining and its profound environmental impact.
E. Protect the Amazon and combatting illegal logging. Brack
mentioned the commencement of Peru's National Forestry Program,
begun last year to conserve Peru's 67 million hectares (258,000
square miles) of virgin forests, with technical support from
Germany as well as an initial loan from Japan for $90 million for
implementation. Brack expressed hope that the United Nations
Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and
Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD) may also be
utilized to reduce poverty and increase development for the Amazon
indigenous communities through forest conservation activities.
REDD and Adaptation Fund - Priorities for the Copenhagen Climate
Change Conference
4. (U) On the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference
scheduled to take place December 7-15, Brack said that the
priorities for MINAM are REDD and the adaptation fund. Brack added
that if these can not be resolved in Copenhagen, Peru would
support the Global Environment Fund (GEF) in the next relevant
meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay in May 2010.
Desires Replication of National Park Service Modalities
5. (U) Brack mentioned that he is particularly interested in
training programs that may be available from the USG, and
emphasized his esteem of our well organized system of national park
rangers. He expressed interest in establishing similar the same
organizational principles that rule the US park ranger system to
management of Peru's 16 million hectares (62,000 square miles) of
forests within Natural Protected Areas. He looks forward to any
capacity training opportunities available from the National Park
Service and the US Forestry Service that would serve in attaining
the goals of protecting forests and managing protected areas.
Ecological Police - Budgetary Constraints and Combating Urban Crime
Prevent Development of Specialization
6. (U) Minister Brack spoke about Peru's National Police Direction
of Ecology and Tourism (their "Ecological Police"). One of the
principal weaknesses in Peru's current Ecological Police program,
Brack noted, is its frequent rotation of officers. Any training
provided on environmental issues to this group is lost as they are
assigned to other positions/tasks. Brack said that the GOP is
seeking to create an environmental specialty within the police
force. But budgetary constraints currently prevent this
7. (U) Minister Brack noted that Peru staffs only 250 ecological
police positions. For a country with 66 million hectares (258,000
square miles) of forests, he believes this number is far too small.
He added that the Government of Peru is considering increasing this
group to 3,000. Yet again, budgetary constraints are a concern.
The US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) is still viewed as a
means of increasing priority for expanding this force to combat
illegal logging. (Comment: Econoff spoke with a current
environmental police member, and learned that the number of
environmental police has declined recently, as the GOP has placed
more emphasis on urban security. End Comment.)
Recruit the Navy for Forestry Enforcement; Number of Environmental
Prosecutors Rising
8. (U) Brack noted that the Navy plays a key role in combating
illegal logging, as the Navy is responsible for navigable waters
within Peru.
9. (U) Brack commended the work of Peru's 46 environmental
prosecutors. He noted in particular the work performed by the
environmental prosecutor of the Loreto Region pertaining to illegal
Regional Environmental Collaboration
10. (U) In terms of regional integration, Minister Brack said that
Peru has excellent relationships with Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil.
Brack described Inambari (the $4 billion hydro dam project to be
developed in the Peruvian Amazon), as "clean energy" with the added
benefit of possibly creating energy exports for Peru. Brack noted
that the area of impact that was originally more than 40,000
hectares has been reduced to 20,000 hectares and that the area
flooded will promote the creation of new aquifers and biodiversity.
(Comment: This was an interesting change of opinion for Minister
Brack on Inambari, as he expressed opposition to this project
several months ago when pushing for the creation of a green fund on
taxes imposed on this project to provide for environmental
remediation work on the areas of impact of the project, including
the displacement of some communities in the area. However, he may
be taking a pragmatic stance on this project, since he added that
the project was going to move forward regardless of his views as it
was promoted directly by the President. End Comment.)
Not universally opposed to importation of some Genetically Modified
Organisms (GMOs)
11. (U) Minister Brack, who generally is viewed as an opponent of
GMOs in Peru, provided a more detailed explanation, including how
he does not oppose GMO use in certain crops. He noted Peru's
biodiversity and described his country as the "cradle" of
particular crops that must be protected from invasion. In
particular, he objected to the introduction of GMOs in potatoes,
corn and cotton, citing as an example that Peru has 2321 varieties
of potatoes. He added that Peru's growing organic market (over $1
billion in exports) must also be protected from incursion of GMOs.
However, he did not oppose importation of certain crops not native
to Peru, citing mangoes in particular. He expressed his support
for the decision of Peru's president to form a high level
technical/scientific team to review and develop biosecurity
regulations pertaining to GMOs.
12. (SBU) COMMENT: Brack, who is regularly welcoming in public
events, continued to conduct himself in a private meeting with the
same upbeat attitude. It was clear that he seeks to engage with
those who can provide assistance to meet Peru's daunting
environmental challenges in the face of climate change, increased
demand for mining and ever increasing illegal logging in the
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