Scaling up Nature-Based Solutions in Latin American and Caribbean public policies

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Within the framework of COP26, an event was held on synergies and public policy advocacy as fundamental approaches for the success and financing of Nature-based Solutions.

Glasgow - Scotland, 10 November 2021. Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are a powerful approach to climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustaining the rural, coastal and urban livelihoods of diverse populations around the world, most notably in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Furthermore, research shows that NbS can provide approximately one-third of the cost-effective mitigation actions needed by 2030 to keep the temperature increase below 2°C and to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

According to the analysis presented during the event, NbS for climate action are targeted measures to protect, manage and sustainably restore natural or modified ecosystems that effectively and adaptively address climate change challenges while simultaneously providing human well-being and benefits to biodiversity (adapted from IUCN, 2016).

In this context, and within the framework of COP26, the thematic sector of Forests, Biodiversity and Ecosystems developed the side event: Scaling up Nature-based Solutions in the public policies of Latin America and the Caribbean, which was facilitated by Thora Amend, GIZ consultant, who highlighted the different field experiences of the BBE sector and its linkages with SbN.

Volker Oel, representative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, stressed during the event that climate change requires a joint effort and EUROCLIMA+ has a very important role in leading projects under the concept of the NbS that is gaining more and more recognition, since they allow creating synergies with the 2030 agenda, developing policies to ensure the security of the water supply, and the capture of carbon emissions; in addition to avoiding soil degradation, among other aspects.

“The NbS are necessary for the process of abandoning fossil fuels and opting for an economy that respects the environment, an issue that is being addressed and emphasized at COP26.  In the Latin American and Caribbean region there are groups that are particularly vulnerable to climate change and therefore the protection and sustainable use of natural resources must be guaranteed," Volker Oel emphasized.

NDCs and NbSs for addressing climate change

The implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) is essential for addressing climate change, and therefore it is important that they include the NbS approach. Mauricio Luna Rodríguez, GIZ regional advisor, explained that since EUROCLIMA+ conducted an analysis of the presence of the NbS approach in the updated NDCs, it was found that the commitments with this approach involve multiple development sectors of the countries and incorporate various ecosystems.

“There is a strong presence of the NbS approach in the updating of the NDCs, which are medium-term development instruments for the countries. Most of the nations explicitly link their commitments to this approach, in both their adaptation and mitigation targets. In addition, many of the commitments contribute to generating the enabling conditions for climate action through nature," said Mauricio Luna.

Contributions with an NbS approach are related to multiple sectors of the economy such as agriculture, forestry, water, tourism, biodiversity, fisheries, energy, health, industry, territorial planning, waste management, transportation, and infrastructure.

Luna also explained that among the enabling conditions, which are the contextual circumstances that affect the viability of climate change adaptation and mitigation options, are the strengthening of policies, financing, capacities, information, management instruments and research.

Costa Rica leads the way in the implementation of NbSs

Costa Rica is one of the main countries in the region that is developing actions around NbS, and it has introduced this concept in its NDC, and in the agendas for energy, water, biodiversity, and forestry several decades before the concept was coined. 

Ricardo Ulate, advisor for the Ministry of Environment of Costa Rica, explained that the country decided in 2018 to develop the National Decarbonization Plan, which is the response for taking actions around Article 4 of the Paris Agreement, which indicates the importance of developing long-term, low-carbon strategies. The Plan is a strategy until 2050 that in 2020 was submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.


“Our Decarbonization Plan is a long-term tool, which has established actions to keep the planet's temperature rise below 2C° and on the way to 1.5°C. For the updating of the NDC, 13 sectors were identified and there are 3 that stand out for their implementation with NbS: land use planning, i.e. territorial planning; the forestry sector; water, oceans, and blue carbon," said Ulate.

The updating of Costa Rica's NDC included the participation of the public and private sectors, and indicators are being developed to monitor compliance with the actions. This participatory process seeks to be replicated in the evaluations and updates of the country's various climate goals. One of the key elements that worked in Costa Rica and that is necessary to make climate actions sustainable is related to guaranteeing long-term financing for actions.

Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador, Bolivia and Peru implement actions for NbS through the EUROCLIMA+ Programme

During the event, there was also a discussion on the implementation of NbS actions in projects developed in Mexico, Brazil, El Salvador, Bolivia, and Peru, which are part of the Forests, Biodiversity and Ecosystems component of EUROCLIMA+.

Alejandra Tenorio, coordinator of the project Articulating Global Agendas from the Local, which is being implemented in Brazil and Mexico, explained that they established a political advocacy model based on the implementation of Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) actions that presented 4 axes:

  • Institutional strengthening and governance of ecosystem goods and services
  • NbS with a focus on livelihoods
  • Capacity building for the mobilization and empowerment of vulnerable groups
  • The articulation of global agendas from the local level to achieve national targets.

“We know that we can contribute to NDCs and reduce the vulnerability of the population by strengthening adaptive capacity with a gender and human rights approach. Through EbA measures we reforested different areas with native species, which has allowed us to reduce the risk of flooding. We have contributed to the NDCs and we can say that the actions are part of a broader strategy that contributes to national and international climate change goals," said Tenorio.

Reforestation actions were included in municipal planning, and together with the communities and civil society, problems were identified and a bridge was built between the private sector and civil society to address them.

“We had great involvement from the private sector, from banks, organizations and additional funds, to a paper mill in Brazil, which donated native plants. We changed the private sector's intervention mechanism to adjust them to the territory and the communities," said Alejandra Tenorio.

In El Salvador, the actions were developed as part of Ecosystem-based Mitigation (EbM) in the context of the Forest Value Chains project. The Cerrón Grande Reservoir, one of the country's RAMSAR sites, was the place where agroforestry systems were combined with the generation of carbon credits in degraded forest plots of small and medium-sized landowners.

Natalia Gonzáles, coordinator of Forest & Climate at ICCO Cooperation, the institution leading the actions, explained that the Plan Vivo Standard is being used to certify the carbon credits, which is one of the highest quality and most safeguarded standards for the fair and sustainable commercialization of carbon certificates with small landowners.

“El Salvador has very little forest cover and many degraded areas; contributing to improve this problem is one of the priorities in mitigation and adaptation, which in turn responds to the country's priorities. The development took place in the context of a participatory dialogue with the national and regional government and with the owners of the reforested land. The sustainable use of resources must generate real benefits at the local level in order to be credible and profitable over time," said Natalia Gonzales.

On the other hand, through the Amazon Forests and Climate Change project, which is being implemented in the Madre de Dios basin, an area shared by Bolivia and Peru where there are Amazon forests, synergies are being developed in mitigation and adaptation for the management of non-timber resources, such as the Amazonian Brazil nut, using a community approach.

There are approximately 109,000 kilometers of Brazil nut forests in this area, which is equivalent to the area of Guatemala. Every year, 30,000 tons of Brazil nuts are extracted, and more than 90,000 people are involved in the harvesting, processing, and marketing of Brazil nuts, 63% of whom are indigenous and rural farmers.

“The communities are betting on strengthening the use of Brazil nuts and increasing income through other forest resources, which are the main adaptation and mitigation measures, and allow them to value the forest. We have rescued lessons learned from existing initiatives, and we have also set up pilot experiences, implementing monitoring systems, which has led to the creation of an Observatory of Amazonian Fruits and Climate Change," concluded Luis Arteaga.

Finally, Michel Schlaifer, consultant at Expertise France, stressed that the experiences presented at the event stand out for the actions on the ground that even include public policies in the countries.

"It is very important to have a systemic approach for NbS, not only as a natural element but also as a vision of the ecosystem for adaptation, mitigation and risk reduction. In addition, it is important that in facing the challenge of the post-COVID-19 recovery, Latin American countries can opt for NbS," he concluded.


Relive the meeting here:

Find the presentations at this link.


EUROCLIMA+ is a programme financed by the European Union and co-financed by the German federal government through the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as by the governments of France and Spain. Its objective is to reduce the impact of climate change and its effects in 18 Latin American and Caribbean countries by promoting climate change mitigation and adaptation, resilience and investment. The Program 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), Expertise France (EF), the International and Ibero-America Foundation for Administration and Public Policy (FIIAPP), the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) GmbH, and the UN Environment Programme.

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