Confronting ocean resilience at Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week

Ocean and coastal resilience will be a key focus at this week’s Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week which the UN’s Race to Resilience campaign is taking part in. By Climate Champions | May 12, 2021

Click here to register for the Race to Resilience event on May 14, 15:00, Stockholm.

By 2050, over 570 low-lying coastal cities will face projected sea level rise by at least 0.5 meters. This puts over 800 million people at risk from the impacts of rising seas and storm surges. Without action, the global economic costs of this impact could amount to $1 trillion.

Cities on the east coast of the US, along with major cities in Asia, are particularly vulnerable. But climate change also poses an enormous challenge to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Despite contributing less than 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the region’s countries are already in the throes of climate change, from slow onset droughts and floods to sudden-onset disasters, causing significant disruption to economic activity and livelihoods.

More than 96% of Haiti’s population, for example, is already exposed to climate shocks. Hurricane Matthew, which hit the country in 2016, caused losses and damages estimated at 32% of 2015 GDP, while the 2010 earthquake, that killed about 250,000 people, decimated 120% of the country’s GDP. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency, intensity, and impacts of extreme weather events, and the country still lacks adequate preparedness and coping mechanisms.

Across Latin America and the Caribbean, every year, on average, between 150,000 and 2.1 million people are pushed into extreme poverty because of natural disasters. By 2030, climate change could push 3 million people a year into extreme poverty. In cities, the poorest neighbourhoods are often the most exposed and vulnerable to flooding.

The scale and urgency of the challenges posed by ocean-derived risks therefore call for a transformative and global response. Resilience strategies, strengthened coastal protection, upgrades to existing buildings and infrastructure, relocation from the most at-risk areas as well as community engagement and preparedness can help regions adapt to sea level rise and coastal flooding.

Latin American and Caribbean countries are thankfully already leading the way in making the vision of climate-smart resilience a reality, moving with increasing urgency to develop more sustainable energy and transport systems; to strengthen the resilience of their cities; enhance nature-based solutions to climate mitigation and adaptation and to prepare people, public services, and infrastructure for the climate shocks to come.

Public and private collaboration

Ocean resilience will be a key talking point at Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week taking place May 11-14. The event, hosted virtually, will bring together representatives from the public and private sectors to exchange ideas and identify synergies in discussions, meetings and exhibitions on a diverse set of themes related to climate action and sustainable development.

Ocean resilience is also one of three key areas that the UN High Level Champion’s Race to Resilience campaign is tackling. The campaign was launched in February to catalyse action by non state actors to build the resilience of 4 billion people from groups and communities who are vulnerable to climate risks by 2030.

During this week’s Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week, the Race to Resilience will hold a side event which will explore the actions needed in the region to build resilience specifically related to coasts. This event has three objectives:

  • Highlight innovative resilience financing mechanisms and pioneering insurance products that can enable climate adaptation in coastal countries to build their resilience to climate risks
  • Identify the main challenges in assessing climate risks in Latin American and Caribbean coastal communities and methods used to overcome those challenges
  • Showcase practical case studies and city climate action plans and commitments to maintain and expand coastal natural capital

Key speakers include: Karen Sack, CEO and President of Ocean Unite, representing Ocean Risk Resilience Action Alliance (Partner to Race to Resilience Campaign); Simon Young, Senior Director, Willis Tower Watson, member of Coalition for Climate Resilient Investment; Daniela Ribeiro Guarieiro, Secretariat for Sustainability, Innovation and Resilience of Salvador; Chip Cunliffe, Sustainable Development Director, AXA XL; Daniel Mancebo, Coordinator, Planning Office, Rio de Janeiro Municipality; Emily Landis, Coastal Wetlands Strategy Lead, The Nature Conservancy, member of Global Mangrove Alliance (partner to Race to Resilience campaign); Nikki Schulman, Director, Development Strategy, RARE; and Henrique Pereira, Director, WayCarbon.

Latin America and Caribbean Climate week is one of four Regional Climate Weeks taking place this year to help build momentum towards success at COP26. The Virtual Thematic Sessions take the pulse of climate action in the region, explore climate challenges and opportunities, and showcase ambitious solutions. It is a platform for regional stakeholders to have their voice heard and contribute to COP26.

They are also designed to encourage and facilitate the implementation of ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement, along with the implementation of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), Long-Term Low greenhouse gas Emission Development Strategies (LT-LEDS), and Global Climate Action and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Non-state actor-led regional, national or global networks and initiatives are now welcome to join the Race to Resilience. Individual companies, NGOs or organizations are not able to join the Race to Resilience on their own, but can through the approved partner initiatives, found here.




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