Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Environmental Lessons from a Witness for Peace Delegation to Nicaragua

Last year a University of Portland student said that before joining a Witness for Peace delegation, "I was not politically aware, but going on this trip has opened my eyes. It has motivated me to be more aware and keep updated on what's going on in the world."

Now you can follow the experiences of 2011 University of Portland delegates to Nicaragua live.

It's Madie P. and Colton! We thought that this would be a good time to grab the computer while we had the chance and write a little something. Since we are the only ones with science majors (Environmental Science and Environmental Engineering), we want to reflect a little bit more on the environmental issues and impacts happening in Nicaragua. Last Saturday (May 14th) we had a speaker come to us at CEPAD. The speakers name was Julio Sanchez and he is an environmentalist that works with an organization called Humboldt Center. He came and talked to us about the environmental issues that are facing Nicaragua. So we are just going to lay out some facts first:

Nicaragua’s main source of revenue is from its natural resources. According to Julio, 75% of all Nicaragua’s income comes from the environment, but only 0.13% of the GDP goes toward preserving their land. Julio raised a point that if they did increase the amount of money for investment in the environment, it would reduce the amount of money for medical attention and would increase ecotourism. Nicaragua has 5% of the world’s biodiversity and if Nicaragua would invest more in preservation, this would boost the GDP dramatically. This extra money essentially could start a movement to create a stronger infrastructure.

From what we learned in the past couple days, countries are being encouraged to come and use these resources to increase jobs and create a flow of money to the economy. However, these companies are not being penalized for their overwhelming destruction to the environment. Luckily, this is recently changing. The Humboldt Center is making movements towards working with the government to making stronger policies, as well as increasing the actual enforcement of the policies.

What makes us the most upset is that even though in U.S. we have our environmental movements towards making a smaller carbon footprint, we are still creating pollution and deforestation in other countries. It’s basically canceling out all of our efforts that we make back at home. These companies need to be held responsible for their destruction to the environment in and outside the United States. Nicaragua has some truly unique wildlife and BEAUTIFUL landscapes. It deserves to be preserved so that our grandchildren will have the opportunity to see this biodiversity and beauty.

Overall, Julio’s talk definitely tied all of the issues we have been learning about together. In the midst of focusing and seeing all of the social and economical issues, Julio brought up a powerful point that nature is the basic foundation of these issues. Nature is the one that gives values to social, economic, and cultural to each and every country. It gives people an identity and life to communities. This alone should be a strong motivation to preserve something that gives us all life.

Woooh. Alright. A little longer than expected but hopefully you made it through. We just got back from the campo today (countryside for all those nonspanish speakers) and are pretty pooped. Dinner was delicious from the restaurant across the street and ended it with an ice cream run. On our way to “The Igloo”, we discovered some break dancing. Of course, our Witness for Peace leader, Riahl, joined and surprised all of the locals. Now some chitchat and cards are being played, but the night is wrapping up.

-Madie P. and Colton

This post was originally published here.

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