Environmental and Climate Policy: Differential approach for Afro-descendant people in the Americas

Friday, December 03, 2021 at 12:00pm to 2:00pm

Virtual Event

Luis Gilberto Murillo, MLK Fellow at the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative (ESI) and former Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia, is the featured speaker at this Spanish-language virtual event.

Minister Murillo will discuss his research at ESI, which focuses on the land rights of Afro-descendant communities in Latin America and how land policies can empower these communities to pusue effective biodiversity conservation and natural solutions to climate change.

The event is part of the Afro-Latin American Research Institute (ALARAI) seminar series at the Harvard University Hutchins Center, and is presented in partnership with ALARI, ESI, and the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

Register here.


The effects of climate change represent a great threat to the Afro-descendant population of the Americas, as these have exacerbated the conditions of vulnerability and exposure to the compounding risks of environmental and socio economic injustices. At the same time, these communities are uniquely positioned to lead in a range of Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) because they inhabit areas of strategic environmental importance in the region and the hemisphere. This strategic socio-cultural geographic area is what we have called the Afro-descendant Natural Belt of the Americas (ANBA). Natural Climate Solutions (NCS) have the potential to provide over one-third of carbon mitigation necessary for a 2 and 1,5-degree global warming target. Therefore, there is no effective global or regional climate response without the contribution of the natural heritage of the Afro-descendant communities of Latin America and the Caribbean, and in general of the Western Hemisphere. The benefits of these solutions go well beyond environmental and climate issues and include aspects of territorial governance, security, peace, inclusion, and socioeconomic well-being.

The case of Colombia illustrates the intersection of environmental and climate policies and the differential approach to the land rights of ethnic and racial minorities. In recent decades, Colombia has become a regional and global leader on policies to further the autonomy of Afro-Colombian communities, promote sustainable livelihoods, reduce deforestation, and conserve biodiversity. Among other innovative policies, in 1993 the country passed Law 70, which created a legal pathway for Afro-Colombian communities to receive collective title to historically occupied territories in rural areas. This groundbreaking law offered an innovative way to advance four key goals: racial justice, economic autonomy, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation.

Event Type


Events By Interest



Sustainability, climate change, Latin America, Biodiversity



Environmental Solutions Initiative
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