75 years ago, the UN was born. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the UN looks back at several important achievements, but much work on persisting challenges still lies ahead. Increased UN engagement in three areas can make the region more resilient to future challenges.
If ratified, the Mercosur-EU trade deal may reinforce the parties’ commitment to climate action. Yet, its potential relevance is weakened by a language that often stops short of concrete commitments, as well as political resistance.
Brazil has demoted climate diplomacy as part of a foreign ministry shake-up, in Jair Bolsonaro’s first two weeks as president.
In some areas of the world, including Central America, rising sea levels and declining agricultural productivity due to climate change are expected to trigger major migratory flows, especially within countries. The role of policy-makers is it to promote local solutions while engaging in regional cooperation for a preventative approach.
Small Island States will be facing dramatically higher adaptation costs to build resilience against the kind of impacts the IPCC projects in its most recent Special Report. Thoriq Imbrahim, former Environment and Energy Minister of the Maldives, urges the international community to attend to the political demands of countries particularly exposed to the impacts of climate change and also confront loss and damage with renewed urgency.
Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro has named an anti-globalist diplomat to lead foreign affairs and his country’s relationship with the Paris Agreement. Ernesto Araújo, a relatively junior diplomat, accuses the left of using the environmental cause ‘to serve their political project of total domination’
Climate action and free trade have been perceived as contrary agendas for a long time. Despite more and more governments seeing tremendous potential for win-win outcomes, aligning trade and climate has become harder. This is due to changes in our current geopolitical landscape, as Christian Hübner explains in light of the upcoming G20 summit.
A new USAID report focuses on the intersection of climate exposure and state fragility worldwide. It finds that the factors that make a country vulberable to large-scale conflict are similar to those that make it vulnerable to climate change. The report thus offers a way for global audiences with an interest in climate and security to identify places of high concern.
Fourteen Latin American and Caribbean countries made history at the UN General Assembly on September 27 by signing the Escazú Agreement, a regional accord on public participation and access to information and justice in environmental affairs. It is the first region-wide agreement of its kind and has been touted a big step forward in recognising the rights of environmental defenders. Signatories now need to ratify the Agreement internally before it can enter into force.
Jair Bolsonaro, Brasil’s current de facto presidential frontrunner, says he would withdraw Brazil from the Paris Agreement if he wins the October election. The withdrawal of such an important developing country, home to the world’s largest rainforest, would deal a blow to international climate cooperation. Bolsorano’s opposition to the international pact has drawn criticism from the UN’s environment chief.
In May 2018, the Brazilian Institute for Climate and Society and the German Embassy in Brazil hosted an event on international climate and security in Rio de Janeiro. The meeting, joined by experts from the public sector, civil society and international think tanks, reflects Latin America’s increased interest in the international dimension of climate fragility risks.
Starting in 2014, the number of migrants from Central America’s Northern Triangle surged. Experts blame the region’s widespread criminal violence for spurring migration. But the Northern Triangle countries also share similar ecology, staple crops, and vulnerability to climate events. While environmental and natural resource factors are just part of the complex picture, understanding how they intersect with other migration drivers is key to creating and implementing effective policy responses.
The exhibition “Environment, Conflict and Cooperation”, realized by adelphi and supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, was recently displayed in El Salvador in cooperation with the Central American Commission for Environment and Development (CCAD) as part of the Climate Diplomacy initiative. The exhibition illustrates the dramatic and growing impact of global environmental changes. It was discussed among experts and visitors, continuing to support a broader dialogue on sustainability in Latin America.
The EU is currently negotiating a trade agreement with the four founding members of Mercosur. Negotiations cover a broad range of issues—but 1) do they consider climate change and 2) can compromises on environmental issues be found? In our interview, Christian Hübner, Head of the Regional Programme Energy Security and Climate Change Latin America, notes points of contention and shares how the EU and Mercosur can both benefit from deeper cooperation on energy and climate policy.
Climate finance is supposed to fund projects in developing countries that support the path towards limiting global warming to 1,5°C – a goal that was confirmed in the Paris Agreement in December 2015. For this it needs a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development as the statute of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) states. At the same time, projects funded under climate finance should not hamper development or lead to the violation of human rights. Climate finance can therefore not only focus on the environmental aspects of the investments funded, but also needs to be incorporated into the wider context of development, as i.a. the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are reflecting.