Augusto Castro-Nuñez, a researcher on sustainable food systems at CIAT. Photo by: Neil Palmer/CIAT
The below is an excerpt of Augusto Castro’s op-ed published on Devex:
The scene remains vivid in my head. People packed the hall outside the plenary where heads of state gathered for the 2009 COP15 Copenhagen climate summit. Like my fellow climate change negotiators, my eyes were glued to TV screens that live-streamed the proceedings next door.
At the plenary, then-Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Vélez said something that immediately sparked my interest. He noted the value of engaging 90,000 families in the country’s rural areas as forest rangers in order to curb illegal coca leaf production — a major cause of deforestation and therefore carbon dioxide emissions.
“Before they destroyed the jungle to plant narcotics, now they take care of the jungle … they are committed to keeping the areas free of illicit drugs,” Uribe said.