Brussels/Panamá, 29 March 2021 — The European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced common priorities for environmental cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) for the next five years, aimed at tackling the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution in the context of the region’s COVID-19 pandemic recovery.
As an ecological hotspot, the LAC region is home to almost half of the world’s biodiversity – including 60 percent of global terrestrial life – and is a champion in protected marine and terrestrial areas: 24 percent of its land is protected, and 23 percent of its marine areas under national jurisdiction. This natural capital is key to build forward better.
“Latin America and the Caribbean constitutes a geopolitical priority for moving forward the environmental global agenda and the European Union’s Green Deal and for maximizing the opportunity of a green recovery,” said Marjeta Jager, Deputy Director General of International Partnerships at the European Commission.
The European Union will support initiatives in the region around three major areas: biodiversity, climate change, and pollution, waste management and circular economy. These priorities were set out as part of an upgraded global cooperation framework between the European Commission and UNEP, announced in February 2021.
“At the recent regional forum of Ministers of Environment for Latin America and the Caribbean region, we heard resounding commitment to building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Union and UNEP have a proud history of collaboration in the region, and we look forward to deepening our joint engagement in support of a just and sustainable recovery from the terrible global pandemic,” said UNEP Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya.
The EC-UNEP LAC dialogues build on the XXII Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean hosted by Barbados in February 2021 which launched the Action Plan for the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration containing 10 actions to promote the recovery of terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems in the next decade, the first of its kind to be adopted in the context of the UN Decade on Ecosystem restoration 2021-2030.
The Forum also saw the creation of a Regional Coalition on Circular Economy, aimed at encouraging collaboration between governments, businesses, and society as a whole to make sure this resource-efficient approach is implemented across the region.
Putting nature at the center of the regional development model will enhance countries’ efforts in reducing the risks of disasters and emerging zoonotic diseases and will provide ecosystem services that are critical for the livelihoods of millions of people.
Some of the agreed policy priorities are:
- An integrated landscape/seascape management, with special attention to protected areas, the sustainability of productive sectors in corresponding landscapes, as well as land-use planning and ecosystem restoration.
- The mainstreaming of biodiversity in policies and tools by implementing nature-based solutions, greening public and private finances and ensuring environmental justice and the sustainability of tourism.
- Enhancing knowledge and information management and the role of science in policy-making, by promoting the adoption of standards and guidelines, and strengthening biodiversity monitoring, verification and reporting systems through scientific cooperation.
- Stepping up public and private finance for adaptation and mitigation by developing climate finance taxonomies, enabling climate-related financial disclosures, and incorporating climate-related risks into regulatory frameworks.
- Deploying nature-based solutions, which are a crucial tool to meet climate goals while conserving biodiversity, with special attention to key ecosystems and cities.
- A coupled transition to zero-carbon in energy, transport and buildings, as well as heavy road transport, aviation, shipping, and industrial processes, where the LAC region should develop more ambitious policies, increase investments, and bring other zero-carbon technologies to the market, such as next-generation batteries, storage, or hydrogen.
Pollution, waste management and circular economy
- Accelerating policies and practices to promote circularity and more sustainable consumption and production patterns by integrating a coherent policy framework, increasing knowledge and skills, identifying mechanisms to finance circularity and promoting consumers’ behavior change.
- Moving towards zero pollution and sound management of chemicals and waste through the closure of dumpsites, integrated policies and laws, and circular approaches such as eco-design and extended producer responsibility.
- Addressing circularity and zero pollution in key sectoral value chains, including plastics, food systems, building and construction and tourism.
In 2014, The EC and UNEP renewed their memorandum of understanding, which includes an Annex that outlines the areas of joint global and regional cooperation.
The Annex was updated in February 2021 to embed both the environmental and the Green Deal in the global efforts towards sustainable development, poverty eradication, and a green, digital and inclusive transformation. The new Annex establishes a framework for the years 2021-2025 and recognizes the value of nature as part of the solutions for multiple crises.
Story cross-posted from UNEP