Latin American countries reiterated their commitment to climate action at COP25 and many have already signaled that they will update or enhance their NDCs in 2020. As we wait for these updates, below is a recap of some relevant actions or statements related to nature-based solutions and environmental justice from stakeholders in the region. This post is an excerpt of the Latin America Project’s Latin America Green News weekly newsletter, a selection of weekly news highlights about environmental and energy issues in Latin America. You can subscribe here. A similar recap of Latin America energy and decarbonization updates from the COP is available here.
Protecting Latin America’s forests
Protecting the region’s forests is a critical part of the climate solution and the United Kingdom, Germany and Norway signed a 366 million $USD agreement to help curb deforestation in Colombia. The agreement builds on previous work and establishes that 1) by 2022, 147,000 hectares of forests must be protected and free from deforestation by livestock, 2) within two years Colombia must include an additional 195,000 hectares under the payment for environmental services program, and 3) that 200,000 hectares must be restored in areas of great deforestation, including lands located in collective territories of ethnic communities. The hope is that by 2025, 500,000 hectares will have sustainable management of their forests, as part of the National Community Forest Program. (Semana Sostenible 12/11/2019)
Meanwhile, indigenous leaders from Ecuador announced their intention to collaborate with indigenous peoples from Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia in the protection of 30 million hectares in the Amazon to prevent the territorial, cultural and social damage caused by the contamination of water and soil. President of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon (Confeniae), Marlon Vargas, and the territorial leader of the entity, Sandra Tukup, explained the goals of their transnational plan include a socio environmental transition in Peru and Ecuador, keeping crude oil in the ground, restoring and reforesting, and avoiding large-scale mining. Confeniae represents eleven nationalities of 23 communities from the Amazon, including the Shuar, Ashuar, Quichua, Andua, Shiva, Zapara and Huaorani. (El Comercio 12/10/2019)
Sustainable land use and land restoration
Representatives of FAO and ECLAC launched the Climate Action Platform on Agriculture (PLACA), with the objective of coordinating and strengthening actions aimed at the formulation and implementation of joint solutions in the agriculture sector, to act in an aligned manner in the face of the new climate scenario. “Climate action in agriculture means nature-based solution, bioeconomy, linking the agendas of the sister conventions on biological diversity and desertification, and dialogue between policy and science,” explained Alicia Barcena of ECLAC. The initiative, led by the Government of Chile, is a voluntary membership platform already signed at COP 25 by the Ministers of Agriculture of Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay. The governments of Ecuador, Mexico and the Dominican Republic have also indicated they will join and other countries are expected to do so as well. (Misiones Online 12/6/2019)
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru and Uruguay signed the “Declaration in Favor of Restoration” recommitting to restore degraded lands. This new declaration expands the goals of the Regional Restoration Initiative (Initiative 20X20) to renovate 20 million hectares of degraded land by 2020, with an additional 30 million hectares by 2030. So far, 19 million hectares in Latin America have been restored and will be net carbon sinks in 2050. To achieve the restoration objectives, Chile developed a National Landscape Restoration Plan with a goal of restoring 1.5 million hectares. (Forbes Centroamérica 12/10/2019)
Ocean and climate nexus
Together with Fiji, the State of California, Panama and Peru, Costa Rica announced the “Alliance for Climate Action of the Pacific Ocean Coast” which will join together efforts for the conservation of the Pacific Ocean. The alliance proposes concrete actions in three areas: reducing carbon dioxide emissions, maximizing ocean mitigation and building the resilience of oceanic and coastal ecosystems. In addition to this initiative, Costa Rica is working with France to develop a High Ambition Coalition for People and Nature, a global alliance aiming to protect 30 percent of the ocean and 30 percent of land by 2030. (El Pais 12/11)
Chile’s Minister of the Environment announced the launch of a science-based climate solutions platform for the ocean. The web platform “Solutions for the Ocean” will allow for the community of ocean-climate specialists to compile the main tools and methodologies needed in order to be able to include the ocean in the Nationally Determined Contributions of the United Nations and other climate policies. Chile, which included oceans in its draft updated NDC, hopes to launch the site in June at the United Nations Conference on the Oceans. (El Mostrador 12/4/2019)
Escazu Agreement on environmental justice
Colombia finally signed the Escazú Agreement which promotes access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decisions and access to justice in environmental matters. Considered one of the most important environmental instruments in the region, it is the only binding agreement under the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio + 20), the first regional environmental agreement in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the first in the world to contain specific provisions on environmental human rights defenders. President Ivan Duque urged the Colombian congress to ratify the agreement in the next session and to hold a series of workshops in the country with environmental leaders. Meanwhile in Chile, environmentalists urged the government to sign the Escazú Agreement, saying that the current social crisis made it more important than ever to join the regional treaty. “Escazú is an environmental agreement, but it is also a peace agreement,” noted RodrigoCatalán of WWF Chile. Of the 33 countries in the region, 21 have signed but only five have ratified. (El Espectador 12/11/19; Blu Radio 12/12/19; CNN Chile 12/11/19)
Youth from the region also expressed their support for the Escazú agreement. In a statement, they called on governments around the world to declare environmental and ecological emergencies and to ensure the inclusion and participation of ancestral, indigenous peoples, Afro-descendants and rural peoples, in the measures adopted to deal with climate change. Their 15-point petition put a special emphasis on the Escazú Agreement. ( El Espectador 12/06/2019)
Meanwhile, participants in the Social Summit for Climate Action that took place in Chile drafted the Latin American Climate Manifesto which focused on nine areas: water; nature; energy transition; new development model; women; native, indigenous, ethnic and tribal peoples, and afro-descendants; human rights and climate change; climate justice; and climate governance. The statement calls on national legislature to ratify the Escazú Agreement to “ensure that measures and plans to resist the effects of climate change are inclusive and participatory, and do not generate new impacts on the human rights of the most vulnerable groups.” (País Circular 12/11/2019)
This post was co-authored with Andrea Becerra, Marilyn Martinez, and Gricelda Ramos.