75 years ago, the UN was born. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the UN looks back at several important achievements, but much work on persisting challenges still lies ahead. Increased UN engagement in three areas can make the region more resilient to future challenges.
Stories of clear skies and wildlife conquering urban areas might provide much needed comfort during these uncertain times as the health crisis unfolds. But in Brazil, where climate and environmental issues already lack attention and resources, the pandemic underscores the next crisis.
If ratified, the Mercosur-EU trade deal may reinforce the parties’ commitment to climate action. Yet, its potential relevance is weakened by a language that often stops short of concrete commitments, as well as political resistance.
Brazil has demoted climate diplomacy as part of a foreign ministry shake-up, in Jair Bolsonaro’s first two weeks as president.
Small Island States will be facing dramatically higher adaptation costs to build resilience against the kind of impacts the IPCC projects in its most recent Special Report. Thoriq Imbrahim, former Environment and Energy Minister of the Maldives, urges the international community to attend to the political demands of countries particularly exposed to the impacts of climate change and also confront loss and damage with renewed urgency.
Brazil’s president-elect Jair Bolsonaro has named an anti-globalist diplomat to lead foreign affairs and his country’s relationship with the Paris Agreement. Ernesto Araújo, a relatively junior diplomat, accuses the left of using the environmental cause ‘to serve their political project of total domination’
Linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans across the Latin American landmass has often been presented as one of the holy grails of development for the region. While China’s idea of a ‘Nicaraguan Canal’ has made headlines globally, another major infrastructure project is in the works further south: the Bi-Oceanic Railway. The idea has already spurred transboundary environmental cooperation, but the public is still in the dark.
Climate action and free trade have been perceived as contrary agendas for a long time. Despite more and more governments seeing tremendous potential for win-win outcomes, aligning trade and climate has become harder. This is due to changes in our current geopolitical landscape, as Christian Hübner explains in light of the upcoming G20 summit.
Fourteen Latin American and Caribbean countries made history at the UN General Assembly on September 27 by signing the Escazú Agreement, a regional accord on public participation and access to information and justice in environmental affairs. It is the first region-wide agreement of its kind and has been touted a big step forward in recognising the rights of environmental defenders. Signatories now need to ratify the Agreement internally before it can enter into force.
Jair Bolsonaro, Brasil’s current de facto presidential frontrunner, says he would withdraw Brazil from the Paris Agreement if he wins the October election. The withdrawal of such an important developing country, home to the world’s largest rainforest, would deal a blow to international climate cooperation. Bolsorano’s opposition to the international pact has drawn criticism from the UN’s environment chief.