LACCW Day 4: “There’s always more people that we need to bring into the discussion, there’s always space to improve”
Day four of Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW) once again offered a panorama of discussions, ranging from urban finance to youth empowerment, the role of biofuels, and the potential of Nature-based Solutions. Here’s a detailed overview of the day:
Empowering Latin American cities through Multi-level Governance to improve access to finance
City leaders and experts convened to explore the role of multi-level governance in mobilizing finance for city-wide climate initiatives. This session, orchestrated by organizations including ICLEI, UN Habitat, FMDV, Regions4, as well as the COP28 Presidency, spotlighted the urgency of equipping Latin American cities with the necessary resources for climate action.
Speaking via video conference, Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27, conveyed the urgency of expansive stakeholder engagement, asserting the critical need for “urgent ambitious climate action.” His emphasis lay on cities, which are on the frontline of climate impacts, underlining the need for resilience and adaptation. Dr Mohielidn shared the positive news that signatories to the Cities Race to Resilience have nearly tripled since 2021, from 30 signatories at COP26 in 2021 after only 3 months, to 86 cities today. “These 86 cities represent more than 129 million people in total, and are committing to clear, evidence-based climate actions to accelerate their constituencies’ adaptation and resilience,” he said.
Elevating youth voices
The potential of young voices in shaping climate narratives once again took centre stage, with praise for the COP28 Presidency’s decision to have, for the first time, a dedicated Youth and Education day at the upcoming UN climate conference. A salient fact echoed: 36 percent of party delegates are below 35, reflecting an upward trend in recognizing youth’s significant role in climate discourse.
However, young people still face roadblocks. The steep average cost of around $4,500 USD to attend COPs restricts accessibility. Moreover, a mere fraction, less than 1 percent, of global philanthropic efforts fund youth-driven projects.
Addressing this, youth and education is being embedded throughout the whole period of COP. The UAE Presidency, for instance, is sponsoring 100 young people to attend COP28. Delegates from countries on the list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS), Indigenous Peoples and other minority groups around the world have been prioritized.
Maria Azul Schvartzman, a Youth Engagement Specialist from COP28 closed the session, stating: “We need to stay uncomfortable, as a general rule. This is what will makes us move forward. There’s always more people that we need to bring into the discussion, there’s always space to improve.
Biofuels’ role Latin America’s energy transition
At a panel discussion on biofuels, convened by key organizations including APROBIO, FNGA, and IICA, insights on Latin America’s energy transition were unveiled. Key takeaways included:
- Dual benefits: economics and energy: Biofuels are carving a niche for themselves. They’re not just positive for energy reliability in Latin America but also a potential economic powerhouse. Biofuels could be the cornerstone for the region’s steadfast energy source while simultaneously fueling economic growth.
- A balance between economy and ecology: The discussion didn’t sidestep the challenges of producing biofuels sustainably. The panelists highlighted the imperative of a holistic approach. The road to economic prosperity with biofuels must simultaneously be paved with social responsibility and environmental stewardship, it was agreed.
The concept of Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) far from new, but its importance and potential in Latin America’s climate strategy is only beginning to resonate. In a dedicated workshop, participants delved deep into the multifaceted world of NbS and the balance between nature, communities, and technology, understanding the barriers to accelerate its implementation. Key takeaways included:
- Decoding NbS: At the very core of the discussion was a mission to deconstruct and define NbS. CBD Action Agenda Champion for Nature and People, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, in his address, made it clear: NbS isn’t just a system for carbon credits. It’s a holistic approach aimed at addressing societal issues, nurturing ecosystems, and fostering community engagement.
- Overcoming challenges: A quadrant analysis exercise identified four pillars of challenges: Technological, Social, Economic, and Political. Each held its own set of complexities:
- Technological: Bridging traditional wisdom with modern innovation is pivotal. Data and tech can amplify the impact of NbS.
- Social: NbS is as much about the community as it is about the environment. Ensuring Indigenous rights and valuing local input is non-negotiable.
- Economic: Access to funds, defining metrics for resource deployment, and showcasing the long-term economic benefits of NbS took centre stage.
- Political: Overcoming policy barriers and aligning governmental goals with NbS objectives is crucial for its seamless integration.
- Co-creation is key: A recurring theme was the importance of creating solutions not for, but with the community. NbS isn’t about imposing; it’s about understanding, collaborating, and implementing.
- A shift in perspective: The workshop underscored a fundamental truth — the journey with NbS isn’t merely policy-driven. It’s about evolving mindsets. The true essence of NbS lies in recognizing its long-term benefits, transcending immediate economic gains.
Image credit: Eduardo Fonseca Arraes. Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil, South America.