Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week 2022: Momentum or stagnation in regional climate action?
By: Jhoanna Cifuentes, Wendy Toro and Nelson Jiménez (Climalab, Colombia)
The Latin American and Caribbean Climate Week took place from 18 to 22 July in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and was organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme – UNDP, the United Nations Environment Programme – UNEP and the World Bank Group, with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean – ECLAC, the Development Bank of Latin America – CAF and the Inter-American Development Bank – IDB, as associate organizers from the region.
LACCW2022 is part of a series of global regional events that have been held since 2021, according to its organizers, with a view to contributing to the annual COP negotiations. This year began with the Middle East and North Africa Climate Week from 28-31 March in Dubai, with Africa Climate Week 2022 next on the agenda for August. For the Latin America and Caribbean region, the event featured more than 160 sessions and brought together over 1700 participants from the region’s government delegations, multilateral organizations, private sector, and civil society.
In parallel, and as a protest and act of vindication of the civilian population most affected by the effects of climate change, under the leadership of organizations from island states such as Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the “Citizens’ Assembly for Climate Justice in Latin America and the Caribbean” was held in the vicinity of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, which brought together the voices of women’s organizations, black, Afro-descendant, indigenous, peasant, youth, environmental and local communities to reflect on the current crisis, the structural causes and the consequences that are already visible in the region in order to promote and encourage practical actions to build a true climate justice. With their premise “either we all save ourselves or no one is saved”, they criticized the development of the official UN event, on the one hand, on the way these dialogues are carried out, in which their voices and opinions are excluded, and on the other hand, for promoting “false solutions” that end up perpetuating the same actions that have proved insufficient in recent years, which was expressed through a statement that was supported by various civil society organisations from across the region.
On the other hand, the Climate Action Network, a Latin American node that links more than 30 organizations in the region and of which Climalab is a member, also made a statement referring to various disagreements regarding the official event, including aspects such as the limited participation of civil society, highlighting groups such as ethnic communities, youth and women, an agenda that did not provide spaces for countries to define a roadmap or clear position from the region for the COP27, or multi-stakeholder scenarios between non-state actors and state actors to accelerate climate action. In this regard, a call was made for the next Climate Week to be held in Panama to guarantee the participation of civil society in the definition of the agenda and in some spaces of interest so that their voices and experiences are taken into account in decision-making.
It is important to mention that at the national level Colombia’s participation was limited to a space on a panel called “Colombia a potential market for climate finance” where the Colombian government’s experience in the progressive and effective mobilization of sectoral and territorial climate finance, which allows the country to comply with its NDC and its Sectoral/Territorial Climate Change Plans, was presented. The strategies and initiatives that have been defined to mobilize finance to support compliance with the updated NDC.
Climalab at the Climate Week LACCW 2022
The Climalab team made up of Jhoanna Cifuentes (Public Relations Director), Wendy Toro (Gender and Education Coordinator), and Nelson Jiménez, (Adaptation and Climate Action Coordinator), participated in different scenarios, highlighting that this is the first time that a Climalab delegation participates in an international event with its own funds.
The spaces for participation were as follows:
- Youth events: as co-organizers of the youth events in the region supported by YOUNGO, where Nelson participated as a panelist, Wendy as moderator, and Jhoanna as master of ceremonies of the general event.
- Side event on loss and damage: Jhoanna Cifuentes was a panelist in this event co-organized with the Climate Action Network Latin America node, sharing some visions from Colombia.
- Working table with the High-Level Climate Champions on resilience: contributing to this dialogue that focused on sharing perspectives and narratives from civil society organizations from different countries in the region on the actions that non-state actors are currently taking to address loss and damage caused by climate change
In addition, different panels were held on various topics such as gender, energy transition, long-term adaptation and mitigation strategies, climate finance, ACE (Action for Climate Empowerment), and climate resilient agriculture, among others.
In general terms, it can be said that these events allowed for the generation of reflections and some progress regarding regional collaboration, in search of climate action by deepening the different climate risks, the transition to a low-emission economy, and the creation of networks to solve pressing challenges among the countries of the region. However, there are still great challenges and aspects to improve for the next Climate Week LACCW 2023 to be held in Panama, making it necessary to ensure prior spaces for discussion with the UNFCCC team, participating international agencies, and representatives of civil society organizations in the region to jointly define the topics for discussion and approaches, in order to advance a regional position for the discussions prior to the next COP. It is also important to promote the participation of children, young people, women, and indigenous peoples, among others, so that they can lead different spaces within the event and promote interaction with decision-makers from different countries.
Working together on these issues undoubtedly opens up the opportunity to address social inequalities from different comprehensive approaches in order to promote progress in the presentation of more robust adaptation and mitigation plans, as well as to position the agenda from alternative and more inclusive visions that are expected to advance at the next COP27.