Accelerating climate ambition and green recovery: Latin American perspectives on updating NDCs

The event held on 12 August was jointly organised by the EUROCLIMA+ Programme, through the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), in partnership with the Chilean Ministry of Environment (MMA) and with the collaboration of the NDC Partnership and the Regional Collaboration Centre for Latin America of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (RCC Panama).

Santiago de Chile, 24 August 2021. The Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region has the largest economic contraction in the world as a consequence of the crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, reflecting the urgency of promoting a sustainable recovery. In this sense, the call during 2020-2021 to review and update the NDCs is presented as an opportunity to promote green recovery within the framework of a long-term vision in the countries. Similarly, public policy instruments to design low-carbon and resilient development pathways help countries to increase the ambition of their climate targets, especially in sectors identified as priorities for both reducing emissions and increasing resilience, highlighting the importance of strengthening short- and long-term planning, aligning attention to national development and climate challenges.

Under the title "Accelerating climate ambition and green recovery: Perspectives from Latin America on NDC revision", on 12 August, the EUROCLIMA+ Programme, through the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), in partnership with the Ministry of Environment of Chile (MMA) and with the collaboration of the NDC Partnership and the Regional Collaboration Centre for Latin America of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (RCC Panama), organised a virtual exchange session with the aim of making visible the efforts of countries in the region to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), organised a virtual exchange with the objective of making visible the efforts of countries in the region to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that, even in the context of the pandemic, increased the ambition of their national climate commitments to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement.

In particular, during the session, the experience and lessons learned from three countries in the region were presented; Chile, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, on the processes of updating their NDCs and how these have contributed to cementing a vision of climate ambition and sustainable development, which despite the adverse effects caused by the COVOD-19 pandemic and the various national circumstances and challenges, have managed to take firm and confident steps expressed in commitments for climate ambition, short, medium and long term vision and green recovery, followed by a space for exchange with participants and final reflections.

The session began with a welcome from Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), who highlighted the relevance of the NDCs, their updating processes and encouraging an increase in the ambition of the commitments. In this regard, she said, "the NDCs are the main instrument for planning the urgent transition to a sustainable economic and social life. Continue encouraging an increase in the ambition of the NDCs, both in terms of the size of the reduction targets and the timeframe for meeting them”.

Then it was Carolina Schmidt’s turn, Chile's Environment Minister, who pointed out that the urgency of climate change remains despite the current crisis and that combating climate change is a global challenge. "Updating the NDCs is not an unnecessary distraction from the COVID pandemic; on the contrary, the new NDCs, updated with ambition, become a beacon to guide the post-pandemic sustainable economic recovery," she emphasised.

Jolita Butkevičienė, Director for Latin America and the Caribbean of the Directorate General for International Partnerships on behalf of the European Union, highlighted the importance and timeliness of the event to open a space for joint reflection on the urgent need to increase the ambition of climate commitments and how to align these commitments with the green recovery (post-pandemic). In her words, she emphasised the EU's commitment to the region, "from the EU we recognise the important efforts made by Latin American and Caribbean countries to update and increase the ambition of their climate commitments in the midst of the severe economic and social crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the region.  We therefore align our programming to support a post-COVID transition that is green, just, and leaves no one behind."

Pablo Vieira, Global Director of the NDC Partnership's Support Unit, concluded the opening remarks by congratulating the countries in the region that have submitted ambitious NDCs, highlighting their commitment to the climate agenda. He said "Latin America and the Caribbean is a leading region in the world in its climate action, 18 of its 33 countries have submitted updated NDCs and 14 of these have significantly increased their ambition". He also highlighted the opportunity that this action opens up for the world. "The region's NDCs send a strong message that adaptation is fundamental in our countries”.

After the opening messages it was the turn of the countries, who were moderated by Ms. Maria José Poddey, Head of the Climate Policy Support Programme, Sectoral and Global Programmes Department, at the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).

On behalf of Chile, Carolina Urmeneta, head of the Climate Change Office of the Ministry of Environment, presented the country's climate policy, highlighting the submission of the updated NDC in April 2020, with medium and long-term commitments; the Draft Framework Law on Climate Change, currently being processed in Congress, which establishes the regulatory and governance framework for climate change, as well as the ambitious goal of carbon neutrality and resilience by 2050. In her presentation, she also highlighted Chile's experience with the placement of Sovereign Green Bonds, which have allowed having specific resources to finance green projects in the country. In the case of Chile, the updated NDC together with the international rating of the Climate Bond Initiative (CBI) for sovereign green bonds were the key tools for guiding the Step by Step Chile will Recover Plan, through which the government has promoted a set of urgent measures to reactivate the economy in a decentralised, inclusive and sustainable way to respond to the economic and social crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Of the total public investment earmarked for post-pandemic economic recovery, 30% will be earmarked specifically for climate action and sustainability," said Urmeneta.

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On behalf of Guatemala, Antonio Urrutia Lemus, Director of Climate Change at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, highlighted the country's climate agenda and the opportunities offered by the NDC update to achieve political support to move towards a more efficient economy, interrelating climate goals with other national and development objectives, updating the context and climate information, demonstrating the country's commitment to reduce emissions, and to highlight national climate concerns. In addition, he mentioned the importance of the fact that "Central America has had a crisis mainly due to the effects of tropical storms, so the NDC highlights this situation. Even at the state level we are working on a declaration as a country highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change". The current NDC does not define a clear system for monitoring actions and progress, which is why Guatemala is strongly committed to delivering its update as soon as possible.       

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From the Dominican Republic, Max Puig, Executive Vice President of the National Council for Climate Change and the Clean Development Mechanism, highlighted that the NDC presented in 2020 contributes to a sustainable recovery and aims to make the country carbon neutral. The new NDC clearly points out the need to align national planning processes, so that policies, measures and actions to implement climate action and the fulfilment of the national agenda for Sustainable Development 2030 can be linked. All with the aim of maximising resources, as well as identifying the comprehensiveness and potential for impact in prioritised sectors. Achieving the NDC targets, as well as the SDGs, requires a transformation at all levels of the country and these must be reflected and monitored in the national development strategy in the short, medium and long term. "After presenting our improved and updated NDC, in the Dominican Republic we have immediately started a process to update the NDC action plan for 2022-2025, with the purpose of aligning sectoral actions with more robust indicators and mobilising the necessary support for the implementation of the NDC 2020. All under the framework of a broad participatory process," Puig said. 

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The closing remarks were made by Cayetano Casado, Regional Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean in the NDC Partnership's Support Unit, who, in addition to highlighting the relevance of the experiences presented by the countries, pointed out how in the three examples presented it was observed that capacity building, coordination and participation among all actors and levels of government, and communication have been key elements in the framework of defining the new NDCs and the post-COVID economic recovery plans.

He also pointed out the usefulness of the NDCs as a key mechanism for the transition to an economically and socially sustainable life. "The NDCs go beyond being the international document to meet the requirement of the Convention, countries have provided the opportunity to mainstream the climate agenda and institutionalise climate governance," Casado stressed.

Relive the whole session here.

Climate action for green recovery

You can also review the Policy Brief on the updating Chile's NDC here.

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About EUROCLIMA+

EUROCLIMA+ is a programme funded 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. It aims to reduce the impact of climate change and its effects in 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean by promoting climate change mitigation and adaptation, resilience and investment.

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), Expertise France (EF), the International and Ibero-America Fundation for Administration and Public Policy (FIIAPP), the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), and the UN Environment Programme.

EUROCLIMA letra blanca peqEUROCLIMA+ 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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