Climate change constitutes a threat to sustainable development, prosperity of all countries, and presents a significant challenge to ending extreme poverty. Recently, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) issued a report called Global Resources Outlook 2019, noting that historical and current patterns of natural resource use are generating increasingly negative impacts on the environment and human health. Currently, climatic extremes are reflected in the constancy and intensity of natural disasters, the prolongation of droughts, disruption in agriculture, sea level rise, among other situations that put food security and access to water at risk. As specialized reports point out, climatological phenomena will continue to occur with greater frequency and magnitude in the coming years, but effective measures are taken to combat global warming.
In order to address this problem, the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 2016 Paris Agreement, the establishment of Goal 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals and recently the Escazú Agreement have established a series of commitments, measures and mechanisms to mitigate these effects. Additionally, International Financial Institutions, such as the IDB, have incorporated this theme into their institutional strategies. Consistently, all conventions and agreements highlight the need to promote open governments that promote access to information and citizen participation. This strategy seeks to accelerate the implementation of actions against climate change, as well as strengthen mitigation and adaptation tasks, focusing on disseminating information, training, sensitizing and stimulating citizen participation. The implementation of this approach is generating effective models of open climate agendas that can be reproduced and deepened in our region. To this end, we respond to the question:
What effective practices are being implemented worldwide in this area?
1. Strengthening access to climate information
To participate substantively and understand climate risks in decision-making, it is necessary that the general population has adequate access to climate information. As an example, in the framework of the preparation of a national inventory on Greenhouse Gases (GHG), through the INFOCARBONO tool, Peru is sharing this type of information, broken down by year, sector, methodology, so that decision makers can formulate strategies, action plans and policies that support the reduction of GHG emissions. Likewise, Spain, South Africa and the Czech Republic issue annual reports on the current state of the environment, based on indicators and through various electronic means. This option allows different stakeholders to have statistics to assess trends, interpret results and identify priorities.
From a broader perspective, Serbia has created a website that contains a database that includes a variety of environmental documents from organizations, institutions and private companies on water and air quality, Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) records, monitoring plans, among other documentation. The site incorporates contact points and the possibility of requesting environmental information of public relevance, including a process to respond to requests for information.
2. Inclusive and multidimensional focus
An inclusive approach implies that groups which are especially vulnerable to climate change must be heard, so that they can participate substantively in the adoption of any policy or strategy that may affect them, including the possibility of contributing their own knowledge to strengthen any action in this matter. Taking into account the impact of climate change and its relationship with gender inequalities, in the Asia and Pacific region, a “Participatory Feminist Action Research Program” has been created that seeks to empower women through participation in the debates on climate agendas. This forum incorporates the vision of women from rural, indigenous and urban areas, taking into account the special needs of each group.
In the framework of the creation of the “Strategy for the Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and more (REDD +)” in Costa Rica, cultural facilitators were used with the objective of providing technical support to the indigenous communities regarding climate change . This program supports the identification of those aspects necessary to generate a national consultation, in line with international standards regarding indigenous peoples: prior, free and informed consent.
3. Co-creation platforms: consultations and dialogue tables
The use of participation mechanisms where all actors have the opportunity (double track) to be consulted, discuss and make joint decisions are one of the main tools to develop, implement and evaluate comprehensive strategies to face climate change. For example, by adopting provisions that foster the relationship with civil society for the formulation of environmental legislation, Chile has launched an online program that has facilitated public participation in the development of emission standards, environmental quality and plans for prevention or decontamination. Access to information, as we saw in the first section, is an essential condition for a proper relationship with civil society in this area.
Using similar tools, which include interactive applications and geo-referential maps, Finland’s civil society has been able to participate in consultations on land use planning, resulting in the creation of protected ecological zones. Under a multidisciplinary approach (academy, private sector, civil society and state authorities) and within the framework of the Paris Agreement, in Argentina, roadmaps have been defined to implement mitigation and adaptation measures to climate change.