Peru leads mountain countries in Rio

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Climate Himalaya, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The western South American country of Peru has advised its official negotiators to take an uncompromising stand on mountain issues when deliberations are held at the ongoing Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil.

The Peruvian environment minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal told Business Bhutan that Peruvian negotiators have been directed to take “tough positions” on mountains and to do all in their capacity to ensure that mountains are “clearly” reflected as an important part of sustainable development at the Summit negotiations.

Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidalsaid that Peru has experienced severe climate change impacts. He said that water is the top priority of his country, the land of the legendary Inca Empire. The republic of Peru has already lost about half of its glacier cover severely threatening the country of its water sources.

The largest glacier chain in the tropics, Cordillera Blanca, is melting at an unprecedented rate fueled by rising temperature which is fast shrinking the water source of about 70% of the Peruvians who live in the arid coastal areas.

The second most daunting challenge is disaster risks, says the minister. Most notably, the threat of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) posed by the melting glaciers is glaring. In 1970, an earthquake triggered a glacial flood that claimed about 70,000 peoples’ lives.  Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidalsays Peru cannot afford to have disasters of that kind in the future.

“The melting glaciers are forming new lakes posing more risks for glacial floods,” he says. “The situation is only worsening.”

Glaciers in the Andes are melting in all other Andes countries like Bolivia, Equador, Colombia, and Venezuela.

The environment minister says that Peru would do everything to ensure that mountains receive top priority in global negotiations like the Rio+20 Summit. He reiterates that it was the reason that prompted his government to set up the Mountain Pavilion at the Summit. The Pavilion has hosted several mountain related discussions including the Third Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership which was not held for the past eight years.

Peru is a presidential representative democratic republic with a multi-party system. An elected president is the head of state and the government. The presidents appoints the prime minister and on the latter’s advice the remaining council ministers.