Brazil Launches National Adaptation Plan: Interview with Karen Silverwood-Cope

Brazil’s Ministry of the Environment launched its first National Adaptation Plan (NAP) earlier this month.

The NAP puts forward cross-sector adaptation strategies to address the wide range of risks that climate change poses in the expansive country, which has the world’s fifth largest land mass.

“Brazil is a big country and we do have great challenges considering the climate change impacts that are predicted to happen here, whether it’s sea level rise, droughts, extreme events,” explains Karen Silverwood-Cope, Director in the Secretariat for Climate Change and Environmental Quality in Brazil’s Ministry of Environment. “And we face different challenges or climate risks depending on the region we are looking at.”

“It took us three years to draft the plan,” she continues. “Our NAP in total is about 500 pages, encompassing 11 sectors, so it is a big and comprehensive view of adaptation to the country.”

Brazil’s NAP process involved extensive consultation with participants including 18 federal organizations, scientific community, traditional communities and the private sector. The Ministry of the Environment also organized 197 technical meetings and received more than 500 contributions in two public consultation processes.

“I would say that this document is the result of many hands. It is definitely not the perfect NAP in any individual perspective. But it is definitely the best possible NAP, the best political pact that we could bring together from the many, many participants,” says Silverwood-Cope.

Brazilian representatives were among the original group of adaptation practitioners who called for the NAP Global Network to be created in 2014 to allow for better coordination of bilateral adaptation support.

Silverwood-Cope says that participating in the NAP Global Network has offered been a good opportunity for peer-learning and exchange on the NAP process.

“A lot of the colleagues from other countries always stress the importance of having traditional knowledge,” says Silverwood-Cope. “They have a lot different methodologies and techniques to engage these communities—to those vulnerable groups—and we learned a lot from them on how to address and how to engage with these groups.”

Silverwood-Cope says the Network also offers adaptation practitioners the opportunity “to see that we all are facing the same challenges: all of the developing countries are trying to achieve and secure funds, achieve the best way to do knowledge management. And I think we feel more confident ourselves the more we see our colleagues doing.”

Brazil will now begin implementing its NAP working towards medium-term goals it sets for 2019, applying ecosystem-based adaptation techniques across the 11 economic sectors the plan addresses and launching an online knowledge management hub for adaptation next year.

When asked for lessons for international colleagues who are working on the NAP process that can be drawn from Brazil’s experience, Silverwood-Cope says: “It has to be an inclusive process. It has to be drafted carefully including a full range of stakeholders. It can’t be a consultant that comes from somewhere else and simply drafts a file and puts it on the table and makes this happen. You really have to make it a bottom-up process and be open to review it as many times as needed.”

“So think that’s the best [lesson] we can share with other countries: make it a big, inclusive process and make sure that everybody is included in the NAP and identifies herself with the plan.”

Brazil’s NAP document is available for download in Portuguese.

Listen to the full interview with Karen Silverwood-Cope via Soundcloud.

Any opinions stated in this blog post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the NAP Global Network, its funders, or Network participants.