The Global Covenant of Mayors acts on two central pillars: mitigating the effects of climate change and adapting to these changes. Actions are carried out by local governments around the world. In Latin America, there are more than 500 cities voluntarily committed to confronting the climate crisis.
On March 24th, during the second session of the “Green Recovery in Latin America” event, there were successful cases from green and healthy Latin American cities presented, as showed below.
La Union, Costa Rica
The first successful example comes from the Canton La Unión, in Costa Rica. The mayor, Cristian Torres, and the head of the Environmental Unit, Katherine Quirós, spoke on the subject.
La Unión has been working based on its “Cantonal Action Plan for Mitigation and Adaptation to Climate Change”. Among the actions that are being carried out, the management of organic waste through composting stands out, working together with educational centers, farmer’s fairs, at home and community level, as well as municipal parks. Food safety is another initiative of the Canton. The project of urban or community gardens, installed in parks and educational centers, collaborates for the healthy eating of students and the local population.
Protection of the water system is also a concern. Wastewater management has sought to solve the problem of contamination of the water system with the installation of planters, which act as a natural filter, and prevent impurities from reaching the rivers. From the basin management approach, La Unión considers that water resources cannot be considered only within the territorial limits of the Canton, but in the entire environment that surrounds it. In this sense, policies have also been developed to protect water springs.
With the pilot project «Fog Trap Systems», the mist from the highest points of La Unión is captured through meshes and the liquid obtained is stored. According to Katherine, the experience «has allowed it to be valued as an alternative action to reduce the pressure on water sources», since the stored water is later distributed to local producers.
Santiago del Chile, Chile
Sustainable mobility was the theme of the presentation on Santiago del Chile. The Deputy Director of the Environment, Isabel Aguilera, highlighted the existence of strong networking and collaborative work, with a focus on environmental education for citizens.
“We understand that the concept of sustainable mobility is inserted within a framework of good environmental practices. Within this concept, Santiago has been highly recognized at international levels for its strong investment in electromobility”, highlighted Isabel Aguilera.
Santiago del Chile’s ambitious mobility plan values the pedestrian and places a primary value on alternative means of mobility. In this sense, pedestrians count on the incorporation of art and architecture to generate a positive experience about walking through the city.
In terms of electromobility, the Chilean capital has had a strong boost from the buses that run through the metropolitan region. All the public transport networks, the metro and the bicycle lanes are the nerve center of the city. Last year there were 120 kilometers of interventions benefited mobility, this meant, for example, an increase in the bicycle lane and its integration into the metropolitan network and a substantial decrease in parking lots, to discourage the use of vehicles.
Serra Talhada, Brazil
The municipality of Serra Talhada, in Brazil, was represented by Mayor Marcia Conrado, who presented the advances in energy transition, green recovery and selective waste collection.
The mayor highlighted the objectives of the municipality for 2021, among which are the creation of a Municipal Conservation Unit of Serra Talhada, which bears the same name as the city, the establishment of solar energy sources to serve public spaces and buildings and the elaboration of the Climate Action Plan of the municipality. If you want to know the efforts of Serra Talhada in relation to the energy transition, read the article Energy for change: Serra Talhada joins the global fight against climate change.
Food security is the experience of the municipality of Maggiolo, in Argentina. The Mayor Luis Ángel Valerio presented the «Healthy Maggiolo» project, which encourages citizens to eat well.
The origin of the project was the serious crisis caused by the floods that affected the municipality in 2015, 2016 and 2017. These episodes resulted in social, health and economic problems. The reflection on the problems faced looked for ways to improve the quality of life of citizens, involving listening processes, citizen participation, educational strategies and projects, inter-area relations and a group of volunteers. Faced with the situation, the “Maggiolo towards food safety” network was created.
The network operates at six base points: legislation and ordinances, ration and nutritional control, resources and infrastructure for production, meetings, workshops and campaigns, and technical advice and training. «The first sovereignty is to organize ourselves in our land to produce our own food,» said Mayor Valerio in his presentation. During his presentation, he reaffirmed his interest in continuing to work together with various actors of the Pact network in order to bring a better quality of life to all citizens of Latin America.
On air quality and public health, the Secretary of the Environment of Medellín, Diana María Montoya, spoke. He explained that the first steps for the Pact for Air Quality project were the identification of polluting sources. Automobiles have been found to be the main generators of atmospheric pollutants (91%), while industrial emissions represent only 9% of total emissions in Medellín.
The project began in 2018 and currently 150 entities have assumed, individually, measurable and verifiable commitments, in order to contribute positively to the improvement of air quality in Medellín and the metropolitan region. «With the Pact for Air Quality, we seek the support of public and private actors through strategies that really aim to improve air quality,» Montoya highlighted.