High-level event addresses economic and climate policies

The meeting brought together national authorities from Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Peru.

Santiago de Chile, November 30, 2020. The mobilisation of resources, financing and economic policy of the countries are key to climate action, and today they acquire even greater relevance considering the economic and social crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. In this context, the event "the green recovery and climate action from the perspective of economic policy" organised under the framework of the Joint Regional Event for Climate Action in times of crisis, brought together ministers and undersecretaries for the portfolios related to economic policies in the region, where they exchanged experiences, lessons learned and best practices to promote a green recovery agenda in the region.

This activity was carried out under the thematic axis 2 of the Regional Event, "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 initiative Dialogue among Peers , and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The meeting included a welcome by Carolina Schmidt, Minister of Environment of Chile and President of COP25, who highlighted the impact that the pandemic is having on global economies and how countries are developing recovery plans where, according to the Chilean Minister, we have the opportunity to "build better, greener, healthier and more sustainable. In harmony with nature and with what our planet is asking of us". In addition, she stressed: "It is time to dispel the myth that climate action is opposed to economic growth.” In this regard she pointed out how carbon-neutral plans can contribute to the economy, as in the case of Chile, where a 4% contribution to the GDP is projected for 2050.

Along with this, the COP25 President emphasised the relevance of national plans for the second generation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) that countries are preparing today, stating that these are not an unnecessary distraction, rather they can serve as "a reference point to guide the way to a green economic recovery.”

For her part, Felice Zaccheo, Head of Unit of the European Union's Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development, also welcomed participants to the meeting, stressing the relevance of activities such as this one, where green recovery is approached from an economic perspective, which is fundamental to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Zaccheo also highlighted the importance of projecting this economic perspective with a view toward the future, and of promoting exchange to permeate the definition of the NDCs in the different countries, a process for which the EUROCLIMA+ Programme has sought to contribute to advancing a fair and sustainable green recovery that leaves no one behind.

The meeting began with the presentation of Felipe Larraín, former Minister of Finance of Chile (2010-2014 and 2018-2019) and founder of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action who is currently a professor at the Latin American Centre for Economic and Social Policy UC (CLAPES UC), who stressed that "the COVID-19 pandemic can be a turning point to accelerate the move towards sustainable development. For this purpose, economic policy can be a valuable tool when addressing three fundamental axes that this meeting aims at: the long term vision, in economic growth as well as a green recovery, and the goals of reducing CO2 emissions; reaching the goals of the NDCs for the Paris Agreement, and expanding ambition; having sectorial actions that allow meeting these objectives, as in the case of clean and efficient energies".

Thus, Larraín underlined the progress of sustainable financial assets, highlighting the Chilean experience with these investment tools through green bonds and the potential they present for the fulfilment of national decarbonisation plans.

Next, Joseluis Samaniego, Director of ECLAC's Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division, presented a contextual vision of the region from an economic perspective. Thus, he highlighted the moment when this crisis is impacting the region, with an economy that was not in its best moment, with inequality and growth rates that were showing problems before COVID-19.

In this regard, Samaniego emphasised that "only by decarbonising, and changing the economic structure in favour of the sectors with smaller environmental footprints and higher intensity; with production chains based in the region, is it possible to solve the economic dilemma in the different countries", and he emphasised that the sectors that can help with meeting the climate goals as well as the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, are  internally produced renewable energies in Latin America; sustainable mobility, such as electric mobility; the digital revolution, with which we are up-to-date for producing the best efficiencies; the industry that is linked to health; the care economy; bio-economic options; the circular economy and sustainable tourism.

Then it was the turn of the discussion panel, with the participation of Laura Secada, General Director of Climate Change and Desertification of the Ministry of Environment of Peru; Haroldo Montagu, Secretary of Economic Policy of Argentina, and Isabel Freile, Director of Production and Sustainable Development of Ecuador, with Lyes Ferroukhi as moderator, Director of Nature, Climate and Energy of UNDP for Latin America and the Caribbean.

The panel began with the intervention of Haroldo Montagu from Argentina, who highlighted the interconnection between economic policy and environmental policy, and conveyed the concern generated by the possible impacts and rebound of emissions that an economic recovery could generate. In this context, he underscored the discussion that is taking place in the country to address these concerns and highlighted some fundamental aspects to be considered in the recovery packages and the windows of opportunity that these generate so that they are consistent with climate goals.

Thus, he stressed the importance of designing recovery plans that do not focus on immediate consumption, but raher have a long-term vision cover sustainable development.

Then it was the turn of Laura Secada from Peru, who first highlighted the relevance of these kinds of meetings between authorities, which allows the promotion of synergies between countries and an equitable and resilient recovery, as well as the fulfilment of the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

In this regard, she noted that "while the pandemic generated by COVID-19 has been complex, climate change remains the greatest challenge, for which NDCs can be the vehicle for economic growth, job creation and at the same time, alignment with national development goals. Thus, economic reactivation can be an opportunity to promote sustainable development, ensuring better socio-environmental conditions for the population". Based on this, she highlighted the 154 economic reactivation measures that Peru is working on in terms of adaptation and mitigation; which contribute to economic reactivation, and have an impact in this area, as well as on the quality of life and the reduction of emissions in the country.

She also highlighted the role of the private sector and explained how it has also become involved despite the significant impact it has had during the crisis, modifying its investment plans towards sustainable alternatives, with the understanding that this allows for the strengthening of businesses.

Next, on behalf of Ecuador, Isabel Freile highlighted the need to understand the micro and macro impacts on the economies, which are responding to the current problems of health, work, and the impact on the climate. From this, she highlighted the joint work between the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Finance, in order to achieve plans consistent with a green recovery, aligned with the NDC of Ecuador. In this regard, Freile highlighted how the coordination of portfolios is an opportunity for change in the definition of economic plans.

Likewise, the representative of Ecuador gave an account of the diagnostic process that the country will carry out to determine the impact that the pandemic has had on the economy, information that will be the basis of the strategies that the country aims to develop, making the economic needs converge with the fulfilment of the climate goals as a priority.

Joseluis Samaniego was in charge of the final reflection from a regional perspective, where he highlighted the progress that is evident in Latin America and the Caribbean, with the inclusion of the NDCs in the economic plans. However, he added that there is a need to standardise the competitiveness of the green sectors in the economy, stressing that profitability is a social construction, and therefore requires public policies that stimulate investment in these sectors.

The closing words were given by Bernhard Zymla, GIZ Coordinator for EUROCLIMA+, who highlighted three central elements from the reflections made during the meeting. Firstly, the need to mobilise resources to meet the climate goals, where not only governments should be involved, but also the private sector and the financial world.

Secondly, Zymla highlighted the importance of advancing the design and "greening" of economic and financial policies and instruments that promote and facilitate post-pandemic recovery in line with climate commitments and sustainable development objectives in Latin America. In this process, at the global level, governments have a crucial role in moving the climate discussion from the environmental agenda to the development planning agenda and the economy of the countries. And finally, Zymla also reflected on how the current context of multiple crises and the need to promote a sustainable recovery opens a window of opportunity for a joint approach to the economic and social crisis with the climate crisis, in order to promote an agenda with a transformative and long-term vision. In conclusion, the GIZ representative pointed out that it is important to develop new narratives and models of collaboration in order to drive this transformation towards greater resilience, equality, and sustainability.

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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 Public Administration and Policy (FIIAPP), and UN Environment.



Euroclima is the European Union's flagship programme on environmental sustainability and climate change with Latin America. It aims to reduce the impact of climate change and its effects in Latin America by promoting climate change mitigation and adaptation through resilience and investment. 
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