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.
During the past two weeks, Antigua & Barbuda, Nicaragua and Panama ratified the Escazú Agreement, giving a major boost to the unprecedented and innovative Latin American pact that seeks to reduce social conflicts and protect frontline communities in the world’s deadliest region for environmental defenders.
A new form of organized crime has recently been emerging in the Amazon: illegal mining. Miners fell trees, use high-grade explosives for blasting soils and dredge riverbeds. But the impacts go beyond environmental damage, bringing with it a slew of other social problems. Peace researcher Adriana Abdenur urges policymakers to improve coordination and argues that diplomacy may help prevent further conflicts, corruption and crime.
Colombia’s long-standing internal conflict and the country’s contribution to climate change share one common root cause: land concentration. Policies to strengthen access to land and to ensure sustainable land use might therefore hold the key to promoting peacebuilding in Colombia, while simultaneously reducing emissions.
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.
To fight illegal coca plantations and conflict actors’ income sources, Colombia’s president wants to loosen the ban on aerial glyphosate spraying. However, considering the dynamics of organised crime, the use of toxic herbicides will not only fail to achieve its aim, it will have many adverse effects for the environment and human health, fundamentally undermining ways to reach peace in the country. International cooperation and national policy-makers need to account for this peace spoiler.
Costs, emissions and safety are at stake as Argentina and China look set to seal a nuclear power deal. In the midst of economic and political uncertainty, Argentina has doubled down on a major Chinese nuclear power deal. The new nuclear plant in Buenos Aires province will help meet Argentina’s energy needs with the support of Chinese technology and finance.
Brazil has demoted climate diplomacy as part of a foreign ministry shake-up, in Jair Bolsonaro’s first two weeks as president.
In some areas of the world, including Central America, rising sea levels and declining agricultural productivity due to climate change are expected to trigger major migratory flows, especially within countries. The role of policy-makers is it to promote local solutions while engaging in regional cooperation for a preventative approach.