The changing rhythm of development
With the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) now set in place, it is clear that we now dance under a new development rhythm where we can no longer talk about development without considering climate change.
Climate-related impacts or events have become everyday news, think about the huge landslides in Colombia or the devastating floods in Peru that took place earlier this year, and which combined have cost the lives of 350 people and affected many others; or even the recent flooding of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault inVault in the Arctic Circle, a unit expected to provide failsafe protection against all disasters but is now being affected by the unusual high temperatures in the Arctic. We now know that climate change is already costing the global economy $5.3TN a year in addition to invaluable social costs, that is the equivalent to the total GDP of LATAM in 2015.
Climate-proof development is not just a “trendy topic” but an essential matter to secure prosperity and a true means to achieve the SDGs. In fact, the US National Department of Defense has described climate change as the “ultimate threat multiplier”. Climate change events, which have become more frequent and more destructive, translate into a loss of economic growth and human development. This is true not only for developing countries but also for developed economies and it affects everyone beyond social status.
NDCs as the Music Sheet for Development
To face current climate challenges and harness the opportunities that a cleaner and resilient development offers, countries have identified a set of actions to help them reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions and improve their capacity to manage harmful climate impacts. These actions were presented in what are known as “nationally determined contributions” (NDCs) in the run-up to the Conference of the Parties in 2015, COP 21 which took place in Paris. NDCs are the guiding tool for countries to achieve the three objectives set under the Paris Agreement:
- limiting the temperature increase to well below 2ºC and pursuing efforts to stay under 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels,
- increasing capacities for adaptation and resilience to climate change and
- aligning finance flows with low GHG and climate resilient development.
Under the Paris Agreement Parties are to present new NDCs every five years. Each new NDC will have to be better than the last one presented, reflecting the highest possible ambition. This constant improvement of commitment is the cornerstone of the Paris Agreement.
To date, 32 out of the 33 countries in LAC have submitted their national commitments. Across the different commitments presented by countries, the most commonly prioritized actions for climate mitigation are within the sectors of energy, forestry and agriculture. For adaptation purposes, the key priorities across the region are in food security, water resource management and biodiversity.
As guiding tools, NDCs can be seen as the “music sheet” for orchestrating the new climate-proof and sustainable development. NDCs are to facilitate countries the integration of climate change actions into their national priorities, as opposed to overburden their ongoing efforts.
Implementing NDCs entails the active involvement and coherent participation of diverse actors.
Let us think of NDCs implementation as an orchestra where all the musicians play an important role even when their participation may seem small. In the context of NDCs key musicians include the government (at all levels and sectors), private sector, academia and civil society. For the orchestra to work, all the instruments must be played in harmony with the guidance of the music sheet, comprised of specific notes, melody and cadence. Likewise, NDCs contain specific actions, priority sectors and timeframes to coordinate national efforts towards climate-proof and sustainable development.
As expected, implementing NDCs raises diverse challenges: countries are juggling to set in place capacity in a range of technical, policy and financial skills; developing a portfolio with quality projects; achieving effective leverage of public and private finance and building a full cross-sectorial engagement.
In this context, the IDB Group has developed NDC Invest, a collective effort – both technical and financial- to assist countries in the region in the alignment of their national portfolios to meet their international commitments. NDC Invest acts as an IDB “one-stop shop” that matches country requests with the best possible expertise and resources of the IDB Group.
We know that the transition to a climate-proof and sustainable development entails difficult challenges, but we also know that effective planning and implementation will enable stronger and healthier economies, livable cities, protection of our biodiversity, and ultimately improve lives for all. So, let’s all joint the new climate symphony.