To achieve a sustainable, resilient, net-zero-emissions recovery and growth, Latin America and the Caribbean will need to undergo fundamental structural transformations in its type of growth. This includes accelerating the transition to carbon neutrality, reducing deforestation and promoting nature-based solutions, advancing the shift to electric vehicles, and encouraging investment in renewable energies.
This also entails promoting a strong adaptation agenda to accompany the just transition, which seeks to increase the resilience of communities, taking into account that all mitigation and adaptation actions achieve greater benefits if carried out together.
At the IDB, we recognize that the climate crisis must be addressed in a multidisciplinary and intersectoral manner. Therefore, in preparation for the upcoming climate summit (COP 26) to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November, we wanted to showcase the region’s success stories, the leadership of our communities and governments, and the commitment of our private sector.
Thus was born “One Region, One Commitment”, a virtual event that took place on June 28, 29 and 30 and brought together 118 panelists in 22 sessions on various topics, including how biodiversity is a strong asset of nature and of our economies, the potential of green jobs and their inclusive role, and innovation and leadership of the private sector from agriculture to bioeconomy, among others.
If you missed it or if you want to experience it again, read on as we share 5 things we learned from the event and the links to rewatch all the sessions.
1. Achieving a sustainable recovery and a just transition is not only possible, but goes hand in hand with economic growth
The investments required to build resilient and net-zero-emissions economies are consistent with economic growth and green job creation. Climate change and the transition to a carbon-neutral future are changing occupations and creating a demand for skills we have not yet fully developed.
The good news is that net job creation is positive for Latin America in relation to green jobs, mainly in the agri-food sector, but also in electromobility and renewable energy. A study by the IDB and ILO estimates that the transition could generate 15 million net jobs in the next decade, and the private sector will be a central catalyst to achieve this. However, a net positive effect does not necessarily mean a fair transition, which is why the actions we take to reconvert the existing workforce must consider the creation of possibilities (such as training programs) for less qualified personnel who could face competitiveness challenges.
2. We must leverage existing tools to inform climate finance flows
Nationally determined contributions (NDCs) should be viewed as planning tools to establish a development path and investment milestones. These documents will only have a clear impact if they are translated into concrete actions through ownership from the public and private sectors and, most importantly, from all citizens. A sustainable recovery will only be an option if we continue to generate the information and instruments necessary to provide guidelines for what such recovery requires.
Additionally, finance from international banks and other investors must be consistent and congruent not only with sustainability but also with the Paris Agreement decarbonization and climate resilience targets. We must promote changes in paradigms and each country should receive guidance according to their context, opportunities and challenges in order to build a long-term vision that improves the lives of all citizens.
3. A transition to clean energy matrices and zero-carbon transport requires collaboration
The countries in the region are developing different strategies to promote renewable energies and the resilience of existing infrastructure. In this area, countries should be able to foster greater collaboration to be able to invest in clean energies (as in the case of Salto Grande, a unique cooperation of a hydroelectric plant between Argentina and Uruguay), but also to coordinate efforts that enable approaches to increase renewable energies, reducing the gaps in renewables and increasing the efficiency of existing infrastructure.
Additionally, concerns related to the exponential growth of emissions in the region’s transport sector must also be addressed by promoting electromobility and ensuring the construction of public transport systems that allow us to rethink our mobility.
4. Nature is a key asset in climate action and in a sustainable economic reactivation
Latin America and the Caribbean have 40% of the world’s biodiversity, more than 30% of the fresh water available on Earth, and almost 50% of the planet’s tropical forests. This natural capital generates significant benefits for human development and well-being, including our path to post-COVID-19 recovery.
Nature-based solutions could account for 40% of the carbon emissions reduction needed to limit global warming to below 2°C by 2030. They can also provide important resilience services, protecting us against rising sea levels and increasingly intense storms resulting from climate change. Additionally, investments in natural capital generally create low-skill, fast-deployment jobs: nature-based investments create nearly 40 jobs for every million dollars invested, more than 10 times than investments in fossil fuels.
5. Planning resilience and mainstreaming adaptation solutions are necessary to protect communities
Climate change is a threat multiplier that exacerbates social, economic and environmental pressures, which has repercussions on insecurity and instability in the region. The region’s climate vulnerability is expected to increase in the coming decades. By 2050, it is estimated that there could be 3.9 million internally displaced persons in Mexico and Central America due to climate change impacts such as water scarcity, low crop productivity and rising sea levels.
National adaptation plans have made it possible to develop strategies that identify the particular threats that each country faces and the actions and instruments to reduce them, enabling them to socialize the impacts of climate change in different sectors, including the need to build more resilient cities, climate-smart agriculture, sustainable infrastructure, as well as preparing for the surge in migrations given the increase in disasters and the destruction of livelihoods.
The transition out of the COVID-19 crisis requires more than ambition. It requires fast and innovative finance, creative solutions, coordination between different actors, and a clear focus on sustainability. This approach includes the integration of drones and satellites in agribusiness, but also the promotion of financial schemes and instruments that allow serving both SMEs and corporations to access the resources and impacts necessary for a solid climate agenda.
Do not miss out on everything else “One Region, One Commitment” has to offer. Watch all sessions here: