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An event organized by the Global Covenant of Mayors at COP26 focuses on accelerating and financing climate action in Latin America.

The event Accelerating and Financing the Implementation of Climate Action Plans in Latin American Municipalities was held on Monday, 8th of November, and organized by the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM) in conjunction with ICLEI South America and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The dialogue had one virtual and one in-person panel at the Euroclima+ Pavilion during the 26th UN Conference on Climate Change (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.

GCoM Americas coordinator Jordan Harris led the opening, which included the participation of Stephanie Horel, Programme Officer, European Union (EU) Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI)- Regional Team Americas, and Jorge Muñoz Wells, who is Mayor of the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima, Peru, and representative of Latin America at the GCoM Board of Directors.

Stephanie Horel presented the EU’s commitments to the international and Latin American climate agenda, highlighting the importance of increasing leadership in climate action.

“We are supporting this alliance for the implementation of climate action plans. We’ve achieved a lot, especially in Latin America, by attracting many of the cities in the region to the Global Covenant of Mayors. We have excellent climate action plans, and we understand that this is the time to support the implementation of these plans”, said Horel.

The Mayor of the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima, in Peru, Jorge Muñoz Wells, spoke about the role of local governments as catalysts for global climate action.

“There is no doubt that the planet is warming, and unfortunately, we are experiencing the effects of climate change, which is becoming a threat to initiatives addressing poverty eradication, post-COVID recovery, and, above all, sustainable development. It is critical that financial and multilateral entities provide funding opportunities for climate initiatives and bridge the gap between planning and executing climate action plans to ensure a better quality of life, access to affordable housing and services”, emphasized Muñoz.

Pilot Projects and Accelerating Climate Actions

The first panel focused on the presentation of the methodology, main conclusions, and contributions of three climate action plans, identifying the recommended mitigation and adaptation measures to accelerate their implementation. Challenges were also addressed at the time, with emphasis on solutions and tools to support cities.

ECLAC’s consultant andresearcher, Estefani Rondón Toro, presented the “Qualitative analysis pilot project to accelerate the implementation of  Climate Action Plans from signatory municipalities of the GCoM Americas”, carried out in the cities of San José, Costa Rica; Quito, Ecuador and Mexico City.

“The focus of the analysis was oriented on the implementation, taking into account that the plans are not the central objective but rather a first step for the implementation of mitigation and adaptation actions” – highlighted Estefani.

The project consisted of supporting decision-making on priority actions and providing guidance on financing options. In this sense, different methodologies were presented as a way to analyze the plans and that could also be available to support the development of future plans.

Based on the main findings of the pilot, indicators were configured, seeking a holistic evaluation, not only focused on mitigation and adaptation, but rather on more cross-cutting issues such as governance, which brought up the frameworks of local and national climate policy and its links with international agreements.

Citizen participation was also considered to find out how the different actors participated during the plan’s development and its system for transparency and monitoring. Agender perspective was also considered to identify whether aspects of gender equality, women’s empowerment, and inclusion were already considered in the plans.

The head of the Environmental Services Department of the municipality of San José, Costa Rica, Emperatriz Ordeñana Ayerdis, presented sustainable public transport initiatives, such as the construction of cycle paths, avenues, and electric trains.

Finally, Leticia Gutiérrez Lorandi, General Director of the Environmental Policies and Culture Coordination Unit, in Mexico City, affirmed that thanks to its climate action plan, Mexico City “has achieved the goal of reducing more than 2 million tons of CO2 accumulated”. Furthermore, she said that the plans made it possible to strengthen capacities for monitoring and evaluating policies and to strengthen institutional coordination. Letícia concluded her contribution by highlighting that Mexico City has prepared a new long-term adaptation plan that accompanies this strategy and includes the preservation of ecosystems, prioritizing nature-based solutions.

Solutions adapted to the reality of local governments

The second panel presented different views on the implementation of local climate action plans, and connected financial entities and cities to discuss solutions adapted to the realities of local governments.

Three mayors from members of the GCoM Americas participated in the meeting and presented their perspectives on their municipalities, while the President of the Environmental Protection Agency of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Renzo Morosi highlighted the need for funding.

“We need to prioritize local governments, which are the ones with the muscles, those who know the context and where projects that come quickly into action. Funding often arrives at the national level and local agendas are not prioritized. All cities that have a complete plan with consolidated goals must be supported, because when the cities’ goals are met, so are the country’s goals”, emphasized Morosi.

On this subject, the Mayor of Cuenca, Ecuador, Pedro Palacios, outlined the importance of transparency in managing resources and of strengthening internal capacities through advisory services and international technical support. He classified these actions as vital for the local team to have a global vision and be able to work on complex issues.

The strengthening of city hall capacities was also highlighted by the mayor of Niterói, Brazil, Axel Grael. The municipality created a climate secretariat to focus on the effective actions of its climate agenda. For Grael, prioritizing the local agenda promoted by the Global Covenant of Mayors at COP26 is positive.

Funding entities also participated in the dialogue. The Advisor of the Global Fund for the Development of Cities (FMDV), Carlos Freitas, reflected on some important strategies, such as the creation of a strategic alliance of national development banks in Latin America and a global forum for exchange on management strategies and products offered by these banks, which are different from the traditional ones. “The idea is to strengthen national development banks so that they can be intermediaries for large international funds. The financial capacity of local governments is the final step, we have to create these networks of local governments”, highlighted Freitas.

For Augusto Acosta, project manager in the European Investment Bank, local governments must be included as a priority in the national agendas. “In the development banks we have fluid and regular communication with different national entities and we can take these opportunities to include local agendas, for example, in the finance ministries, or also in the sectoral ministries […] Local governments are not only recipients of international aid but are direct agents of change”, outlined Acosta.

The Superintendent of Public and Socioenvironmental Management of the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), Júlio Leite, declared that banks like the BNDES are connectors between multilateral banks, international organizations and subnational banks. Therefore, in addition to climate resilience projects, it is important to structure projects aimed at the economic sustainability of municipalities.

In the closing speech, the head of the Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division of ECLAC, Diego Aulestia, concluded: “We cannot forget that Latin America and the Caribbean, in 2030, will have 86% of its population in cities that, often, have great difficulty in accessing finance and require the attention of a development bank and financial flows that can benefit them in the long term. From ECLAC, we see that the region has to advance a lot, mainly in local and national coordination and with international institutions”.

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