Next year, 2018, will see the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Landscape Network of Argentina (RAP). In 2008, in the city of Rosario, various landscape professionals came together to call upon different groups, organisations, research centres, NGOs and academia in our country with the goal of reformulating the theoretical framework, ethical principles and activity in the field of landscape; the Landscape Network of Argentina was born. This initiative was based on clear objectives: to create spaces for collective building and training; to articulate and establish cooperative relationships with other similar networks; to promote an intensive academic exchange of experiences; and at our core to serve as a permanent forum for discussion on all matters related to landscape, as part of both our natural and cultural heritage.
The RAP is organised as a network with 14 nodes: Salta, Tucumán, Catamarca, San Luis, Mendoza, Córdoba, Rosario, Buenos Aires, La Plata, Dolores, Tandil, Pinamar, San Martín de los Andes and El Calafate, where geographical diversity or theme of each node is the basis for debate, generation of proposals and socialisation of experiences. Thanks to this networking, important results have been achieved since the creation of RAP: annual National Meetings have been organised where the various nodes share their practices; landscape observatories in different regions have been created; Landscape Days have been celebrated in various parts of the country; workshops have been held on the perception the community has of its own landscape and a multitude of other activities have been held in each node. We have also carried out activity in the field of education, with Children and Young People’s Fora for Landscape, among other activities.
One year after RAP was constituted in 2009, as part of the second national meeting of the Landscape Network of Argentina, we drafted a document titled El Hombre y su Paisaje [Man and our Landscape] and the Mendoza Document in which we lay the foundations in response to the following questions: what do we mean by landscape?, what is our holistic view of landscape? and why is landscape a right? This document marked a trend, a direction and a new strategy for the RAP. For this reason, it is important that the recent Argentinian Civil and Commercial Code refers to this document, accepting our definition of landscape. Argentinian parliamentarians are at last beginning to listen to us after knocking on so many doors.
Leading on from the Mendoza document we began to seriously assess landscape from a legal perspective. We perceived the need to draft and promote a law on landscape in our country. We started at the local level and began a process of consultation, research and participation with professionals in the fields of landscape and society, all connected through RAP. We deliberated collectively, node by node, from the north to the south of our country, on five key issues: What landscape units do you acknowledge in your region? What conflicts exist within these landscape units? What local institutions are concerned with finding solutions to these conflicts? What role has the State played in relation to the conflicts mentioned? What provincial laws are there related to landscape aspects?
Systematising the information provided by the regional nodes gave us the law we needed. A “Draft law on protection, management and planning of landscape”, which we published on 7 September 2016. Now we are beginning progress on the long road to presenting it to the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, and hope for its approval.
Over time, the issue has become increasingly important among the Argentinian nodes and other Latin American stakeholders. So, in parallel to the Argentinian proposal, and integrated into the Latin American Landscape Initiative, more than two years ago we set ourselves an even more ambitious task: to write a proposal for a “Latin American Landscape Convention”, which will be debated in Colombia on 15 November 2017, as part of the VI LALI Forum, with many Latin American representatives who took part in this social construction and the process of integrating the right to landscape into the policies in our respective countries.
We propose the creation of an adaptable legal tool that offers proactive proposals and is not merely restrictive. The collective agreement recognises the variety of Latin American landscapes, their identity as heritage, landscape as a common asset, the importance of public participation and regional equity, and the need to organise our territory differently, in a way that treats both nature and culture jointly. Also important are cross-border landscapes, as the identities of the Latin American regions and its inhabitants are shared.
I invite us all to work together, to share our experiences and to sign up to both initiatives.