In Latin America and the Caribbean, climate change has a daily impact on the lives of millions of people, threatening their health, work, education, opportunities for growth, and even the continued existence of the places they come from. Its socioeconomic consequences increasingly know no borders—this is a problem that leaves no one untouched. Just as the problem connects us all, so does the ability to develop solutions to deal with the climate crisis.
To keep Earth’s temperature from increasing by more than 2°C in the coming decades, we can all be agents of change. To reduce our environmental impact and deal with the ways climate change affects our lives, we have to build up human capital. It is also crucial to get behind a comprehensive climate change agenda that includes people. As expressed in our “Vision 2025, Reinvest in the Americas,” we have to invest in people if we want to promote sustainable economic recovery and boost resilience in the region.
We need to move towards green social development
The transition to greener development opens new opportunities for the region. Tools like digitization, cash transfers, and incentives for preserving biodiversity help us sustainably manage our impact on ecosystems, improve people’s quality of lives, and bolster sustainability and resilience.
However, these opportunities aren’t without their challenges. Developing greener industries entails, for example, retraining and redirecting workers towards these opportunities, as we talked about in our discussion at the ”One Region, One Commitment” event in the lead-up to the COP26.
To achieve more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive development, we outline four areas of action where investing in people plays a key role:
- Preparing for green jobs, skills, and climate education:
The transition towards economies with net-zero emissions means more jobs in green industries and fewer in polluting ones. While the impacts are projected to be positive, with around 15 million net new jobs by 2030, a joint study with the International Labour Organization finds that to make the transition fair, we will need to:
- Develop new skills, providing the capacities and knowledge needed to retrain the existing labor force.
- Accompany workers in an inclusive transition to industries with lower carbon emissions.
- Promote climate change education as a tool for understanding and dealing with its effects while cultivating more environmentally friendly behavior from a young age.
2. Adapting and strengthening infrastructure and social services:
By developing green infrastructure and digitally transforming social services, we can make both infrastructure and social services more efficient and resilient in the event of natural disasters, and better ensure their continuity. To achieve this goal, it is essential to, among other actions:
- Plan, build, and adapt schools, training centers, and hospitals according to international standards for sustainability and energy efficiency.
- Promote a green supply chain for medication, transportation, equipment, and suppliers that properly manage their environmental impact.
- Digitize social services through telemedicine, hybrid education, and remote work to curb both transportation for services and emissions.
3. Protecting and supporting vulnerable groups:
Vulnerable populations will continue to need help to close equality gaps and support their development through:
- Cash transfers to offset policies for cutting emissions (which disproportionately affect the poorest groups).
- Health systems that are increasingly prepared to deal with more prevalent tropical diseases, higher temperatures, illnesses associated with poor air and water quality, and even malnutrition triggered by droughts.
- Services for vulnerable populations like migrants and climate refugees to make sure they are integrated into the communities that receive them.
4. Including rural communities and groups:
Rural indigenous and Afro-descendant populations are at the front line of climate change. These peoples’ dependence on natural resources makes them vulnerable, but they are also a unique asset for conserving biodiversity through their ancestral knowledge and practices. In the Amazon, for example, women play a key role in climate change adaptation and mitigation because they tend to make the decisions about how resources are used and about investments in their community. Strengthening these practices and empowering these populations is crucial to advancing the climate change agenda.
These and other actions show how social development and the climate change agenda are intertwined, and they are essential for strengthening the region’s capacity for recovery and resilience and working together on sustainable and inclusive social development to improve the lives of millions of people.