Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week, hosted by the Dominican Republic and organized by UN Climate Change, explores the region’s resilience against climate risks, the transition to a low-emission economy and partnerships to solve pressing challenges. Between 1970 and 2019, there were 38 incidents of major floods and landslides, 12 severe storms, 13 wildfires and nine instances of heatwaves in Chile, affecting around two million people and resulting in nearly US million in damages. Recent efforts to better understand public spending on climate change-related programmes and investments, has helped to identify gaps, investment priorities, and policies to help Chile better cope with climate change. Mangroves occupy about 5 per cent of Cuba’s land area and are found on 70 per cent of its coasts. They constitute a valuable forest reserve providing services to the coastline and its communities including as natural barriers against strong winds and waves during storms and rising tides that will become more intense with climate change. Learn how local communities are using ecosystem-based adaptation as the cost-effective way to preserve and restore natural habitats and protect coastal communities. Around the world, small-hold farmers, who work more than 80 percent of the world‘s farms, need support to remain resilient in the face of climate change. In Mount Airy in Jamaica, new water harvesting systems with automatic drip technology are making a world of difference, reducing the emerging threat of longer and more intense dry spells. Let’s look at what people in the region are doing to mitigate and adapt to the changing climate – from protecting wildlife, restoring corals, planting mangroves, renovating 18th century aqueducts, collecting climate data and launching public awareness campaigns. Launched by the Colombian Government, the largest coral restoration project on the American continent aims to grow one million fragments of coral and restore 200 hectares of reefs by 2023. In recent years, almost 80 percent of the coral reefs in the Caribbean region have been lost, battered by coastal development, overfishing, climate change and pollution. Along the Dry Corridor – a vast stretch of land in Central America affected by drought linked to the El Niño climate phenomenon – farmers in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala are unable to feed their families and communities. But three Salvadoran farmers have turned one of the driest strips of land in their community of Cacaopera, in the mountainous region of Morazán, into a green haven called “La Casa de Oro” with some help from hydroponics technology, solar panels and ground pumice stones as substitutes for fertile soil.
Moreover, climate change-induced extreme weather events such as heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, sea-level rise, coastal erosion and decrease in water supply, will heavily impact agricultural production, consequently worsening food security. Nearly 30 per cent of the region’s population lives in coastal areas, including in the Caribbean, and faces destructive coastal hazards.
Despite the challenges, the LAC region is also home to one of the world’s most important terrestrial carbon reserves – the Amazon basin. In fact, region contains approximately 57 per cent of the world’s remaining primary forests – storing an estimated 104 gigatons of carbon, and hosting up to 50 per cent of the world’s biodiversity and one third of all plant species.
In June 2022, a new marine reserve in Ecuador was created to secure a biological corridor for endangered species, including sea turtles, manta rays, whales and sharks. The 60,000-square-kilometer reserve forms part of the East Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor that stretches from Ecuador to Costa Rica and will protect marine life from the threats of industrial fishing and climate change.
Climate scenarios indicate that by 2080 annual precipitation will decline by as much as 65 percent in the northern parts of Costa Rica. If pressures driven by the climate crisis are not addressed, the region will continue to experience a notable lack of water, which will have grave impacts on the economy, the livelihoods of the local communities and productive sectors. Here’s a story about how a community leader led efforts to restore an old aqueduct to bring clean water to nearly 400 families in the village of Artola.
Antigua and Barbuda’s share of global carbon emissions is less than 1 per cent. Yet, climate change is a real threat to Caribbean Islands like Antigua and Barbuda that continue to face sea-level rise, rising temperatures, and more extreme weather events. As Category 4 and 5 hurricanes are projected to become more frequent in the region, the country has put in place numerous policies to transition away from imported fossil fuels – and rely 100 per cent on renewable energy across sectors in the coming two decades.
The Government of Peru launched a public awareness campaign that seeks to recognize the efforts of public and private organizations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Using the climate action mascots, Nono, and his cousin, Gonzo, the campaign reminds organizations that tackling climate change is everyone’s responsibility.
In his recent visit to Suriname, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the Caribbean ‘ground zero for the global climate emergency, noting damages along the coast and interior of the country due to deforestation and climate change. He also saw first-hand the commitment of the Surinamese people to protect their natural treasures and ancestral knowledge.
The week is an important stop on the road to COP27 in Egypt in November and an opportunity for regional stakeholders to address social inequalities and invest in economic development that is good for humanity and nature.
According to the latest IPCC Report, the effects of the climate crisis will deepen in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region due to irreversible impacts exacerbated by the region’s social and economic conditions, including high levels of poverty, inequality and instability.
In Haiti, soil erosion on hilly farm land due to deforestation over many decades has rendered a lot of agricultural land unproductive and unworkable, but farmers are now producing crops again by advocating for measures to boost the resilience of their land and communities to adverse weather conditions.