Diplomacy has an important role to play in creating an economy compatible with the target of staying below 2°C warming, agreed in Paris in 2015. At the climate conference in Marrakech (COP22) from 7 to 18 November 2016, dubbed the “implementation conference”, many new initiatives strengthened the impression that low-carbon transformation had gone mainstream.
The regional workshop Foreign Policy Contributions to Climate Economy in Latin America was organized by adelphi, Fundación Futuro Latinoamericano (FFLA) and the German Embassy in Lima as part of the climate diplomacy initiative. It aimed to promote regional dialogue on the climate economy and brought together representatives from foreign ministries and other line ministries, civil society and the private sector from across Latin America, in particular the Andean countries.
Latin American policy makers emphasise the fact that development agendas need to consider climate change in a cross-cutting way. Transitioning towards a climate economy is seen as a process with a pronounced international dimension and a significant role for ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs). The discussion during the workshop demonstrated that the foreign policy tools of (1) dialogue, (2) integration and (3) cooperation need to concentrate on leveraging strategic action.
Dialogue across sectors, stakeholder groups and political alliances is crucial. MFAs in Latin America often assume coordination functions, and are therefore well-equiped to facilitate cross-sectoral exchange. Exchange with civil society, the private sector and academia has played an increasingly important role in the run-up to the COP21, and remains a key pillar for implementing and ratcheting up NDCs. For instance, the Chilean MFA dedicated significant effort to public diplomacy in the last years.
In a region like Latin America, marked by political differences between country groupings, foreign policy has the important task to sustain dialogue on climate economy solutions across these groupings, also using informal spaces.
Furthermore, the message that climate action and development are compatible needs to reach wider parts of Latin American societies. Diplomacy needs to simplify the language and emphasise the benefits of climate policies with regard to specific regional challenges (e.g. fast urbanisation).
There is much to be gained by scaling up cooperation in the region. As the MFAs in the region assume manifold responsibilities in climate policies and face capacity issues, it is indispensable to coordinate and to exploit synergies by working in alliances. Diplomacy should search for the opportunities for strategic cooperation with the highest impact, e.g. within the AILAC group.
The countries of the region represent climate negotiation groups with differing positions on the key issues in the UNFCCC process (AILAC, G77 and China, EIG, LDCs). A political divide is also evident between regional economic organisations like ALBA and the Pacific Alliance. However, Latin Amercia faces similar challenges in the areas of adaptation, sustainable forestry and land use, and access to finance. In fact, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (which unites all the sovereign states of Latin America) made joint declarations at COP20 & 21 and cooperates as a bloc with the EU.
Due to joint challenges such as mobility or land use, South-South and triangular cooperation offers crucial opportunities. Diplomatic services provide valuable knowledge on context and action in different countries that can support effective cooperation. Energy policy coordination is one of the promising fields for concerted regional action. AILAC has already started coordinating on this topic.
Climate policies need to be cross-cutting and multi-level, i.e. integrated across different sectors and levels of government. MFAs can be effective in driving integration of climate considerations, given that their work links national and international dimensions.
MFAs in Latin America are engaged in the national planning of climate policies and can further contribute to integration across ministries. The foreign ministries participated in projects PlanCC in Peru and MAPS Chile, which elaborated mitigation scenarios and evaluated their economic implications, providing a basis for the respective INDCs. MFA Colombia is member of Financial Management Committee of the National System for Climate Change (SISCLIMA ), which works to align public and private finance with climate action needs.
Foreign policy can link international climate politics to strategic processes within powerful national actors (e.g. ministries finance, economy and planning). And, vice versa, international commitments can help sustain climate action momentum at national level, also by providing a counterweight to lobby interests.
To be able to perform these tasks, diplomatic action needs to be consistent with the climate economy across all forums, especially integrating economic cooperation.
Please download the Workshop Brief for more detailed insights and examples. The brief is available in English and Spanish.
For more perspectives (in Spanish), read reflections by the participants of the workshop Alejandro Villegas (Centro Mario Molina, Mexico City) and GFLAC (Grupo de Financiamiento Climático para Latinoamérica y el Caribe).