Top panelists highlight Latin America’s challenges and achievements in low-carbon and climate resilient strategies

Dec 8, 2015

The region is responsible for only 12 percent of global emissions of greenhouse gases and yet it is one of the most affected by climate change. Photo: PNUD Guatemala

Paris, 8 December, 2015 - Specialists from Latin America and the Caribbean and Spain met today in Paris during the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) to present the achievements in Spanish-speaking countries in the region on climate change and discuss opportunities for the future.

The publication Low Carbon Development and Climate Resilient Strategies in Latin America and the Caribbean (available in Spanish) launched today in Paris highlights experiences and results of UNDP’s Regional Climate change Programme, funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment of Spain, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Spanish Cooperation Agency for Development Cooperation. 

The programme has supported 18 countries in the region to develop climate policy at the national and regional levels, also helping define the needed investments and financing. It has also identified projects and mitigation activities helping remove barriers implement climate policies, working on climate adaptation at a local level and contributing to Integrated Regional Plans for Climate Change.

"Climate change poses an unprecedented global challenge, affecting simultaneously the economic, political, humanitarian and environmental realms while threatening hard won development gains," said Magdy Martinez-Soliman, UN Assistant Secretary General and  Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support. "In this global context, UNDP will continue working to change patterns of consumption and production by promoting the efficient use of resources, sustainable infrastructure and facilitating access to basic services, to achieve a better quality of life for everyone through collaborations like the Regional Climate Change Programme.”

In Latin America, climate change threatens the progress achieved in the last decade. More than 70 million Latin Americans were lifted from poverty, infant mortality was reduced by over 60 percent and access to drinking water has reached around 95 per cent of the population. The region is responsible for only 12 percent of global emissions of greenhouse gases and yet it is one of the most affected by climate change, which can cost between 1.5 and 5 percent of the region’s GDP if there is a temperature increase of 2.5 degrees Celsius, according to ECLAC estimates.

In this context, the Government of Spain and UNDP developed the Regional Climate Change Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (2009-2015) aimed at supporting Spanish-speaking countries’ low carbon development, climate resilient policies and strategies, strengthening institutional frameworks for carbon finance, and promoting adaptation and mitigation actions.

In Costa Rica, for example, the transport sector is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, responsible for 78 percent of the country’s use of fossil fuels. UNDP’s Regional Programme assessed how to transform the country’s public transport towards a zero carbon model, also developing a system of voluntary incentives for taxis, buses and gas stations, encouraging technological change to reduce carbon emissions. In the Dominican Republic UNDP supported the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development, the National Council for Climate Change and the Clean Development Mechanism of to prepare a Strategic Climate Change Programme. In Mexico, UNDP assessed the impacts of climate change on public finances to identify funding options, simulating the possible consequences in the context of a green tax reform.

"This Paris Summit – crucial to negotiate the future international climate regime – will mark a ‘before’ and ‘after’ in the field of climate change negotiation as well as in the field of development cooperation and cooperation between countries," said Spain’s Secretary of State for the Environment Pablo Saavedra. "UNDP, as well as other international and multilateral organizations that have spearheaded efforts to combat climate change, will play an important role and Spain wants to show our support to continue our fruitful collaboration.”

Omar Franco Torres, Director of the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies, Colombia, highlighted his country’s experience in developing its Comprehensive Regional Climate Change Plan for the department of Cundinamarca-Bogota and stressed the importance working on the development of policies and plans for adaptation to climate change with a territorial approach to address the region’s climate change challenges.

The Director of the National Climate Change Office of Paraguay Ethel Estigarribia and the Director of Climate Change, Desertification and Water Resources of the Ministry of Environment of Peru Eduardo Durand also took part in the event, stressing their country’s progress in climate resilience.

Contact information

In Paris: Sara Bell,

In Panama City: Marta Ortega Baldonedo,

In New York: Carolina Azevedo,

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