The session sought to identify best practices and needs, emphasising strategies to boost climate action and increase the ambition of climate commitments in the current context of the global pandemic.

On September 30th, a virtual seminar was held on the Main challenges to accelerating action and increasing the ambition of the NDC in line with the goal of the Paris Agreement, in the Joint Regional Event “Climate Action in times of crisis” organised by EUROCLIMA+, IDB, UNDP and the LEDS LAC Platform. Specifically, this seminar is part of the activities of Thematic Axis 2: Increasing ambition in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), co-organised by EUROCLIMA+, through the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) with its Dialogue Among Peers initiative, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The aim of this session was to make progress in identifying best practices and needs, with an emphasis on strategies to boost climate action and increase the ambitions of the NDCs in the current context of the global pandemic.

In the opening, Jimy Ferrer, ECLAC Economic Affairs Officer, stated that Covid-19 and climate change represent challenges of great magnitude for the world, since both require collective action to be faced effectively; they also demand urgent action so that the effects are not greater and more costly, and they require good inter-sectoral and territorial coordination and financing, for more effective action.

Marcelo Mena, former Minister of the Environment of Chile, then presented the main challenges that Latin America and the Caribbean have in accelerating and increasing climate ambition in the region. In his intervention Mena pointed out that the health crisis is also an opportunity to address the climate crisis, since to overcome the economic and social crisis a significant flow of funding will be deployed that should be focused on projects and initiatives that allow a transition to carbon neutrality by generating employment, investment, decontamination, and building resilience. "If we care about job creation, if we care about overcoming poverty, if we care about avoiding job losses due to climate change, if we care about having better health, the path to decarbonisation is the most efficient way to do that," he said.

During the discussion panel, Pilar Garrido, Minister of National Planning and Economic Policy of Costa Rica explained that decarbonisation is being addressed in the country within the national planning system approach, with the idea of finding in each of the planning instruments, what this coordinated process is, within the ambition of the country to be a resilient, decarbonised economy, much more decentralised in energy aspects, digitalised, and how to do this so that it is not only a matter of the Ministry of Environment, but that it permeates the development process as a whole. "Among the commitments that we have incorporated within this decarbonisation plan, one that is fundamental was established, which is that the Ministry of Finance had to carry out an analysis of the fiscal impact represented by the reduction of taxes linked to transport and what would be the expected result of the implementation of another that would also help us identify public policy options to be able to compensate for this loss of income in the long term," she explained.

Rodrigo Rodríguez, Argentina's Secretary of Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Innovation, on the question of what the Ministry of the Environment is doing in the country to ensure that climate change is mainstreamed into other levels of government, said: “Since November 2019, Argentina has had a Minimum Budget Law for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, which establishes that ministries, provinces and society as a whole must face up to the challenge of climate change. This law established the National Climate Change Cabinet, presided over by the Leadership of the Cabinet of Ministers, which is made up of the relevant sectoral ministries and where the Secretariat for Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Innovation functions as the technical-administrative coordinator. In this regard, it is the sectoral ministries and provinces which must appropriate the climate agenda and integrate it into their planning and operations and lead it. To promote this change, the Ministry of Environment has held a series of dialogues with sectors and provinces and has made available a toolbox with information on mitigation and adaptation, for the identification of impacts, vulnerabilities, and actions. All of this has been done through an institutionalised process, documented and reported to the Leadership of the Cabinet of Ministers, making the fight against climate change a State policy. In parallel, progress is also being made in awareness raising and sensitisation and in capacity building and early empowerment and involvement of the sectors".  

In turn, Marina Robles, Secretary of Environment of Mexico City, highlighted that "the action of sub-national governments has great potential because we are the ones who potentially act in the territory, we apply many actions that generate or not certain types of investment, installation and improvement of the sites, so adding the work of sub-national governments can generate a great opportunity to raise this ambition to truly open doors to the future of the planet and comply with the Paris Agreement”. One example is the need for a unified agenda between local air quality improvement and climate change planning. Currently, in Mexico City, the efforts for the city’s two great challenges are coming together because finally the air quality problems of Mexico City have their origin in the same sources that generate the problems of climate change.

Finally, Gianluca Merlo, from the United Nations Development Programme, closed the event by encouraging the use of the coming reactivation as an opportunity for a green economic transformation focused on reviewing governance systems, "dramatically" reviewing finances, as well as our lifestyles.

About EUROCLIMA+

EUROCLIMA+ is a programme financed by the European Union to promote environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient development in 18 Latin American countries, particularly for the benefit of the most vulnerable populations. The Programme is implemented under the synergistic work of seven agencies: the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the French Development Agency (AFD), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), Expertise France (EF), the International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP), and UN Environment.