In November, just five months ago, Hurricanes Eta and Iota devastated parts of Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Belize, killing more than 200 and more than half a million displaced people.
These hurricanes, along with floods, droughts, sea level rise and ocean acidification caused by climate change, do not affect all territories in the same way.
Although it is a global problem, the effects of climate change are particularly evident in developing countries. Many do not have sufficient infrastructure, control mechanisms or regenerative capacity after an environmental disaster.
In addition, due to their geographical characteristics, most of the developing countries facing climatic problems are located in tropical areas, more exposed to extreme events, such as hurricanes or cyclones.
In an attempt to cope with the effects of climate change, in recent decades, the environmental issue has entered the agenda of governments and international organizations, with an active presence of civil society.
There are Regional Climate Weeks (SCRs), a forum where individuals and public and private organizations address a wide range of climate issues.
The driving forces behind this project, in addition to governments, are the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Environment Program, the United Nations Climate Change Program and the World Bank Group.
Regional responses to global issues
The main feature of these summits is to approach climate and environmental issues from a regional perspective.
In other words, the focus is on the specific conditions of each geographic area, both in terms of the effects of climate change and the resources to deal with it.
The participating regions are Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Middle East and North Africa.
After the postponement of the meetings scheduled for 2020 due to the health crisis, the agenda was resumed on March 3 and 4, with virtual regional tables to define the orientations for 2021.
The next engagement for Latin America will be the virtual thematic sessions scheduled for May, in which key civil society actors will participate to discuss implementation, climate risk management and leveraging opportunities to leverage implement the climate agenda.
Finally, at the end of August, ministerial sessions will take place, which will include interactions with civil society.
On this occasion, with the Dominican Republic as host, the main demand revolves around environmental justice.
Although Latin America and the Caribbean is the region with the lowest emissions in the world, it is one of the most affected by climate change.
Among the ten countries most affected by environmental problems, five are from Latin America: Haiti, Puerto Rico, Dominica, Honduras and Nicaragua.
It is therefore urgent to put in place mechanisms to balance the scales so that they can be rewarded for the effects on their territory resulting from emissions from third countries.
Imbalances in the effects of climate change
Although the region suffers environmental consequences, no country in Latin America is among the top ten emitters of carbon dioxide.
With the Paris Agreement, it was agreed to create a global market for emissions and climate finance, but so far this mechanism has not been implemented effectively.
The need to correct this mismatch is urgent. The effects of climate change are increasing in Latin America, accentuating poverty and extreme poverty and affecting new dimensions.
Food production and quality are expected to decline over the next few years, due to rising temperatures, erratic rainfall and fertilization from increased carbon dioxide.
The availability of water resources will also be limited, especially in semi-arid regions dependent on melting glaciers, such as the Andes. The increase in temperature and deforestation of forests, such as in the Amazon, will increase the risk of mega-fires.
The regional strategy should include at least three aspects.
First, evidence and claims that the effects of climate change will hit the most vulnerable countries and communities in Latin America hardest.
Second, take into account that much of its effects transcend national borders.
And third, to orient responses on the basis of a principle of equity that seeks to reduce inequalities in terms of both the degree of impact and the capacity to respond.
The environmental agenda in Latin America
The signing of the Escazú Accord was a decisive step in Latin American environmental policy.
The treaty, approved by 24 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, is the result of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012 and the Santiago decision in 2014. After four years of negotiations, the regional agreement has was signed on March 4, 2018.
Among its objectives, it includes the effective implementation of rights of access to environmental information, public participation in environmental decision-making processes and access to justice in the environmental field.
It is an instrument for, among other things, linking economic growth and environmental management within the framework of cooperation.
However, this program and regional mechanisms will be insufficient if they do not fit into the global context.
The North / South division is present in the availability of natural resources and environmental resources, in climate change and in sustainable development.
The global nature of climate change requires the greatest possible degree of cooperation between countries, stimulating the participation of each state to generate an effective international response that takes into account common responsibilities, differences in response capacities and unequal social and economic conditions. .