Ministers of Latin America and Caribbean strengthen cooperation in face of triple planetary crisis

San José (Costa Rica), 28 January 2022 – Environmental authorities of Latin America and the Caribbean observed today the 40th anniversary of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of the region with a special session to accelerate multilateral action in the face of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution and waste crisis.

More than 17 delegations headed by environment ministers and high-level authorities in person and six delegations virtually are joining the Forum in San José, Costa Rica. They are addressing ways to promote the integrated implementation of the multilateral environmental agreements, in a discussion with the executive secretaries of the United Nations conventions that regulate international action on climate change, biological diversity, desertification and pollution.

“As this region deals with the triple planetary crisis, our vulnerabilities are exposed, and we must commit ourselves to accelerating action towards meeting the Agenda 2030. Solidarity pushes us to greater efforts in finding better solutions to pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss to truly transform societies and economies,” said Andrea Meza, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica and current President of the Forum.

“In 2022, the United Nations is calling on all sectors to enter in emergency mode with regards to the environmental crises facing the planet,” said Jacqueline Álvarez, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Director in Latin America and the Caribbean. “Our countries face enormous challenges to solve these crises and protect their peoples, particularly the most vulnerable. This regional forum is a platform for action-oriented cooperation that UNEP has proudly served since its inception.”

As part of the two-day event, the ministers will have the opportunity to exchange ideas and coordinate regional action for the resumed Fifth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), which will take place from 28 February in Nairobi, Kenya.

Among the elements under discussion is the negotiation of several resolutions to be presented to UNEA-5, such as one on nature-based solutions, and another one on the possible establishment of an intergovernmental negotiating committee to create a global binding agreement on plastic pollution. Together, Peru and Rwanda are proposing this resolution, joined by Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay and others.

Ministers and high-level representatives will also define measures towards the implementation of the regional Action Plan for the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration – the first of its kind worldwide -, and mechanisms to increase funds for climate adaptation in the region, which holds some of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

UNEP’s Adaptation Gap Report 2021 found that there is an urgent need to step up climate adaptation finance. Estimated adaptation costs in developing countries are five to ten times greater than current public adaptation finance flows, and the adaptation finance gap is widening, the report states.

Ministers are joined in this event by groups of experts in finance, leaders of the private sector and representatives of youth, civil society and indigenous peoples, looking for integrated solutions to halt environmental degradation while producing economic growth in a region heavily impacted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister for Pacific and the Environment at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office of the United Kingdom, Zac Goldsmith, announced that his country will allocate 2 million pounds sterling (US$ 2.6 million) to help the countries of the Eastern Pacific Marine Corridor-Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia and Ecuador-to expand and connect their marine protected areas in order to conserve one of the most biodiverse marine environments in the world.

The Forum of Ministers of the Environment is promoting solutions to pressing regional challenges through the progressive closure of dumpsites, finance mechanisms for climate action and forests protection, the advancement of circularity, air-quality monitoring, among others.

The Forum is the oldest and most relevant cooperation body for environmental authorities in the region. Its first meeting took place in Mexico City in 1982 and since 1985 it has held biennial meetings, each chaired by a country from the region.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the special session of the Forum is being held in strict compliance with the sanitary and biosecurity measures put in place by the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica.

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About the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UNEP is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

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