From crisis to green recovery, EUROCLIMA+ and its potential in the COVID-19 crisis

"EUROCLIMA+ represents a unique opportunity to promote a green recovery in the context of the crisis", Jürgen Hess, GIZ Climate Coordinator for Latin America

Under the framework of the crisis generated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to implement policies and actions for post-crisis economic reactivation that also addresses urgent social demands, various global actors have proposed that the design of these plans should be in line with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, taking the opportunity to promote a green recovery at the global level.

Already last April, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the task remains to implement the Paris Agreement: "[...] the essential thing is global success in preserving the climate," Merkel said, calling for "everyone in the international community" to make their "contribution". In her speech, the German chancellor warned that discussions on the distribution and destination of economic programmes to revive the economy after the crisis unleashed by COVID-19 must always take into account environmental and climate criteria, combining ecology and economy, and responding jointly to both crises.

This perspective presented by Merkel is linked to the European Green Deal announced in December 2019, through which the European Union has shown the way forward for Europe to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050, considering the efficient use of resources, the move towards a clean and circular economy, the conservation and restoration of biodiversity, and the reduction of pollution as the main axes.

Consistent with the New Green Deal and the recently proposed green recovery (July 2020) is EUROCLIMA+, the EU's flagship climate change programme with Latin America, which aims to reduce the impact of this phenomenon and its consequences through cooperation with 18 countries in the region, and through 7 implementing agencies (AECID, AFD, ECLAC, EF, FIIAPP, GIZ, UNEP), promoting mitigation and adaptation, resilience, and green investment.

Each of the agencies participating in EUROCLIMA+ brings to the programme its experience and potential to support the development of climate policies in Latin America, in order to collaborate with the implementation and/or updating processes of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) of each of the partner countries. In the particular case of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), it leads actions in the programme lines "climate financing" and "intersectoral, multilevel and multi-stakeholder coordination", and the sectors of "Urban Mobility", "Energy", "Forests, Biodiversity and Ecosystems" and "Resilient Food Production", thematic areas in which German cooperation has extensive experience and a track record. 

Below is a summary of an interview with Jürgen Hess, Climate Coordinator for Latin America at GIZ, for EUROCLIMA+, its projections and the contributions of German cooperation to the programme.

Jurgüen Interior

What new potential has been shown by the collaboration with Latin American countries through EUROCLIMA+?

Latin American countries also have an important role to play in the international climate context and in global climate policy. Some of them stand out for their progressive policies and approaches to climate-compatible development. Therefore, without the participation of these Latin American countries, we would lose a lot of potential in developing joint global solutions for sustainable development. However, even though there are relatively advanced countries in Latin America, there are still some countries where capacity building and competence building are required. This is where a Programme such as EUROCLIMA+ has great potential for collaboration; on the one hand, encouraging the most advanced countries to enter the path of climate neutrality and on the other, strengthening the other countries so that they progress under the principle of "leaving no one behind".

From my perspective, it is essential that EUROCLIMA+ is established as a platform for dialogue on climate policy between Latin America and the European Union. In this way EUROCLIMA+ can help to consolidate common visions, approaches, positions, and development of climate solutions and technologies within the framework of dialogue between the two regions.

EUROCLIMA + has a lot of potential, especially through the regional exchange programme

How are the new guidelines of the Green Deal and green recovery incorporated, given the current context of COVID-19, in the work of GIZ and its work through the EUROCLIMA+ programme?

In the current framework of the Programme, the needs of Latin American countries are identified through the Country Dialogue, which is now also helping in the context of the health crisis. It is important to note that the country dialogues have a differentiated approach according to national circumstances.

In this sense, despite the strong impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had on Latin America as a whole, differences can also be observed from country to country. Here it is important that we, as the European Union and as a programme, apply a differentiated approach at an early stage, to support countries in the economic, social, and ecological recovery. In this, EUROCLIMA+ has a great advantage, because we can react quite flexibly to the needs of the respective country, i.e. we can agree on specific measures and mobilise the funds for their implementation in a relatively short time, adapting very well to the specific development situation of the respective countries and implementing solutions and approaches that then help the countries into the post-COVID era. This advantage must now be exploited to a much greater extent since situations in the countries are now developing very differently.

EUROCLIMA+ represents a unique opportunity to promote a green recovery in the context of the crisis: we can put the general concept of the Green Deal and the green recovery as a conceptual approach in all the measures we develop, and coordinate it under the framework of this platform for dialogue between Latin America and the European Union.

We must agree in the dialogue with the countries and in the regional dialogue to consider the post-COVID economic development, which will be extremely important for all Latin American countries, as well as in the European Union, as an opportunity to avoid a return to a "business as usual" scenario, we must adapt the necessary investments and the support from multilateral organisations to a climate-friendly economic recovery and development. With EUROCLIMA+ we can play an important role here.

What role can international cooperation play in bringing the economic recovery agenda into line with climate action and increasing the ambition of Latin America's climate commitments (NDCs)?


I think there is a need for action that we must address quickly. There is already a need for action in the conceptual field that we must address quickly so that no opportunity is missed. Because there are great opportunities that we must seize, and we know that there will certainly be counter-currents. We should keep ourselves well informed about COVID events and then, in dialogue with the countries and the region, considering how our approaches can be translated into working tools for development, or linked to existing tools. Again, I see the flexibility of EUROCLIMA+ as a great advantage over bilateral approaches, i.e. approaches where the European Union and Germany negotiate bilaterally with individual countries. Of course, bilateral approaches are necessary, but they always take some time before they are agreed and come into force. EUROCLIMA+ has the advantage of being able to act more quickly and to apply, implement and agree on individual measures more quickly.

Our contribution to the general coordination of EUROCLIMA+ aims to strengthen the spirit of collaboration between the different actors in the Programme.

And how is the GIZ vision incorporated into the EUROCLIMA+ programme?

We are an international organisation with representation all over the world, with a great deal of experience in controlling and managing complex, high-volume projects, and we can bring this great experience to bear as an important contribution to the programme. In addition, we are valued for the contributions we develop based on our practical experience, which is then linked by other methods to coordinate a common approach. Our contribution to the overall coordination of EUROCLIMA+ aims to strengthen the spirit of collaboration between the various actors in the programme.

Key is our presence in many Latin American countries, where we have been implementing a series of climate projects for several years, from which we have been able to establish a very good network of actors. We have a great deal of competence in the individual countries as well as the region, and we are able to mobilise this competence and put it at the service of the EUROCLIMA+ programme together with the results and experiences of our projects and programmes.


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