The sustainability revolution requires interaction and collaboration among various actors to generate the transformational changes needed to address the impacts of climate change. That is why the public and private sectors, civil society and academia must join forces to drive strategies and action towards a carbon-free and climate-resilient economy.
The climate change crisis takes many forms, from changes in the availability of water and food to floods and landslides as a result of the increased intensity and frequency of rainfall to hurricanes and fires. These manifestations are already apparent in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly impacting the region’s most vulnerable populations, its biodiversity and its natural capital. And yet, despite this reality, the region has the opportunity to flip the script and be a protagonist in the sustainability revolution.
At the IDB, we are convinced that such a revolution, in the face of the climate crisis, is an opportunity for broader sustainable development and economic recovery. As such, it is part of our work to support the countries of the region to translate climate change and development objectives into robust public policies that attract the investments necessary for effective implementation.
On September 14, more than 13,000 participants came together virtually for the 2022 edition of “One Region, One Commitment,” a day-long event featuring more than 30 panelists from Latin America and the Caribbean to discuss the most relevant issues on the climate agenda. The event highlighted the actions needed to tackle the climate crisis and promote the sustainability revolution in Latin America and the Caribbean in six areas: biodiversity and natural capital, adaptation and resilience, green and sustainable finance, a just transition, decarbonization and the Amazon. The event also looked ahead to COP27, which will take place in November.
Here are six takeaways:
- Preserving the biodiversity of the Amazon, working with its communities and boosting its sustainable development is fundamental for the overall sustainability of Latin America and the Caribbean. Generating inclusive and innovative development models with a focus on climate adaptation and mitigation requires joint work between the public and private sectors and local communities. It is important to develop tools to homogenize data in order to generate collective intelligence that will have an impact on the communities and the territory. It is also essential to involve the indigenous communities living in the region in the process of planning and designing climate policies. During this panel, Wilma Mendoza Miro, President of the National Confederation of Indigenous Women of Bolivia, highlighted the importance of defining joint development strategies to build differentiated public policies and thereby contribute to the preservation of the ecosystem, while helping to improve the quality of life of the inhabitants – seeing development as “truly sustainable, not only economic.”
- Addressing climate change and biodiversity loss requires an integrated, collaborative approach, with benefits and trade-offs. Climate change and biodiversity loss, which are intrinsically interrelated, both affect societies. Addressing these threats requires a holistic, cross-sectoral approach to achieve resilient, carbon-neutral, nature-positive economies. This panel discussed mechanisms to address the challenges of planning and financing integrated sustainability solutions with concrete impacts on natural capital that sustains people and our economies. This quote from Agostina Pechi, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs, sums up the imperative for collaboration and collective action: “It seems that the world and the key players are beginning to recognize that there is a problem that we need to address. The financial sector has a role to play in mobilizing capital and bringing innovation to accelerate this process.”
- Decarbonization would create 15 million net new jobs in the region and help increase GDP by 1%. Why, then, is the transition not happening more quickly? Latin American and Caribbean countries have the opportunity to invest in the decarbonization of their economies by making use of clean technologies for power generation and transportation, as well as by implementing sustainable practices in agriculture, livestock and forestry. Milagros Sandoval, General Director of Climate Change and Desertification at the Peruvian Ministry of Environment, highlighted that successful carbon neutrality requires building a country vision together: “Our long-term strategy for 2050 includes mitigation and adaptation elements, helping us look at climate change issues in a comprehensive and cross-cutting manner.” In the words of IDB specialists, achieving carbon neutrality is possible!
- We must urgently advance in increasing the region’s climate resilience. Latin America and the Caribbean is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The increase in extreme-weather events has greatly affected several countries, leaving in its wake fatalities, losses and damage. It is essential to use tools that analyze risk and climate change to generate the key inputs needed to prioritize measures for reducing the impact of extreme-weather events and contributing to resilient development. As Omar Dario Cardona said during the panel, resilience should be understood “not only as the capacity to respond and recover efficiently, but also as the capacity to anticipate, adapt to, and absorb the impact of climate events.” The IDB has its own risk-analysis methodology, which seeks to assess disaster risk and climate change in all phases of projects to increase their resilience. The IDB also helps countries boost climate resilience through various analyses and financial instruments.
- The financial sector has a key role to play in addressing climate change and social challenges and must do so by integrating these considerations into institutional strategies and business models. There is great potential to make the post-COVID-19 economic recovery climate-smart by mobilizing and redirecting private capital towards low-carbon and climate-resilient activities. “Sustainable finance represents an opportunity and generates wellbeing for our stakeholders. Sustainability is good business. It is a very important concept. We have incorporated it as a pillar of the group’s strategy and we have assumed a commitment as signatories to the principles of responsible banking,” said Michelle Espinach, Sustainable Banking Manager of Costa Rica’s Banco Promérica. The fight against climate change requires a substantial transformation of financial markets, which urgently need to equip themselves with the key instruments to manage financial risks and, at the same time, take advantage of the investment opportunities that this sustainability revolution offers.
- The transition to a carbon-free economy represents an opportunity for job creation in the region. How can we realize a just transition that brings prosperity for all? The transition will require significant transformation and advances in the workforce, and so, close collaboration will be needed between skills development and the productive sectors to ensure that training programs address the needs of industry and move towards the green transition. It is also essential to orient the economy towards the creation of green jobs and strengthen the labor intermediation system. Ecuador’s Vice Minister of Employment, Carlos Miguel Febres-Cordero, highlighted key points in the development of his country’s current strategy for promoting green jobs. He stressed the importance of “joining efforts not only with other State entities, but also with private enterprise and citizens, to promote coordination mechanisms between the productive sector, the training system and the demand for green jobs.” Working together, Latin America and the Caribbean can make the most of this sustainability revolution.