The European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) have agreed a five year plan to tackle climate change, biodiversity, and pollution.
The two bodies have agreed common priorities for environmental cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) in the context of the region’s COVID-19 pandemic recovery.
As an ecological hotspot, the LAC region is home to almost half of the world’s biodiversity – including 60 percent of global terrestrial life – and is a champion in protected marine and terrestrial areas: 24 percent of its land is protected, and 23 percent of its marine areas under national jurisdiction. This natural capital is key to build forward better.
“Latin America and the Caribbean constitutes a geopolitical priority for moving forward the environmental global agenda and the European Union’s Green Deal and for maximizing the opportunity of a green recovery,” said Marjeta Jager, Deputy Director General of International Partnerships at the European Commission.
Under the agreement the European Union will support initiatives in the region around three major areas: biodiversity, climate change, and pollution, waste management and circular economy. These priorities were set out as part of an upgraded global cooperation framework between the European Commission and UNEP, announced in February 2021.
“At the recent regional forum of Ministers of Environment for Latin America and the Caribbean region, we heard resounding commitment to building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Union and UNEP have a proud history of collaboration in the region, and we look forward to deepening our joint engagement in support of a just and sustainable recovery from the terrible global pandemic,” said UNEP Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya.
The EC-UNEP LAC dialogues build on the XXII Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean hosted by Barbados in February 2021 which launched the Action Plan for the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration containing 10 actions to promote the recovery of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems in the next decade, the first of its kind to be adopted in the context of the UN Decade on Ecosystem restoration 2021-2030.
The Forum also saw the creation of a Regional Coalition on Circular Economy, aimed at encouraging collaboration between governments, businesses, and society as a whole to make sure this resource-efficient approach is implemented across the region.
Some of the agreed policy priorities are:
In terms of biodiversity, it will see an integrated landscape/seascape management, with special attention to protected areas, the sustainability of productive sectors in corresponding landscapes, as well as land-use planning and ecosystem restoration.
“The mainstreaming of biodiversity in policies and tools by implementing nature-based solutions, greening public and private finances and ensuring environmental justice and the sustainability of tourism,” said the statement. “Enhancing knowledge and information management and the role of science in policy-making, by promoting the adoption of standards and guidelines, and strengthening biodiversity monitoring, verification and reporting systems through scientific cooperation.”
In terms of climate action, the agreement will step up public and private finance for adaptation and mitigation by developing climate finance taxonomies, enabling climate-related financial disclosures, and incorporating climate-related risks into regulatory frameworks.
It will also see a coupled transition to zero-carbon in energy, transport and buildings, as well as heavy road transport, aviation, shipping, and industrial processes, where the LAC region should develop more ambitious policies, increase investments, and bring other zero-carbon technologies to the market, such as next-generation batteries, storage, or hydrogen.
Pollution, waste management and circular economy will be addressed as the aim is to accelerate policies and practices to promote circularity and more sustainable consumption and production patterns by integrating a coherent policy framework, increasing knowledge and skills, identifying mechanisms to finance circularity and promoting consumers’ behaviour change.
“Moving towards zero pollution and sound management of chemicals and waste through the closure of dumpsites, integrated policies and laws, and circular approaches such as eco-design and extended producer responsibility,” added the statement.