The economic and social recovery is already one of the great concerns of this year for local governments facing the crisis caused by the pandemic. The extent of the damage caused by covid-19 affects the entire world and Latin America more intensely due to the social and economic inequalities in the region.
According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), the economy in Latin America contracted by 7.7% in 2020 and the forecast of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs is that the humble recovery expected for 2021, of 4.7%, it will barely compensate for the losses in 2020. According to studies carried out by CEPAL, poverty, which had been declining for decades in the region, shot up again by more than 10%.
Problems of all orders have affected the cities during the period of confinement. Urban public transport, for example, had its capacity reduced in some cases to less than 30%, what leaded to serious problems for the finances of the systems. On the other hand, in some cities the sky turned blue again thanks to the decrease in mobility and the reduction of polluting emissions and CO2 into the atmosphere.
In this scenario, the economic challenges are growing. All countries and cities in the region face some degree of economic hardship. But despite the difficult context, there are many opportunities for green jobs in Latin America, according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). In 10 years, 15 million green jobs are projected to be created and efforts to create such jobs will be vital to a fair and green recovery.
In this context, the event «Green Recovery in Latin America» was held last Wednesday (24), organized by the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, with the participation of mayors and experts from nine countries. Led by the Mayor of the Municipality of Lima, Peru, Jorge Muñoz, the meeting had the support of ICLEI South America, C40 Cities and the European Union in Peru.
During the event, the Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Peru, Diego Mellado, highlighted that one of the main objectives of the Global Covenant of Mayors is the fight against climate change and that to face this challenge it is no longer possible to work on small projects, «we must achieve a great ecological transformation in all our cities”. The Ambassador also highlighted the challenges the region faces.
“It is very clear that we are all in the same situation, we all have the same problem. Large urban agglomerations have suffered more directly from the impacts of the pandemic and that is where we have to launch this economic recovery. And this is the reason why cities are going to be fundamental in this process ”, said Mellado.
Mayor Jorge Muñoz, in turn, considers that green recovery, with low carbon emissions, is key to combat the challenges that Latin American cities face not only due to the impact of Covid-19, but also against the consequences of climate change on the quality of life of the population.
“Responding to this crisis requires audacious and timely leadership on the part of local governments, therefore, through this event, it seeks to promote dialogue about sustainable solutions towards inclusive, resilient and prosperous societies, also bringing together international allied actors that provide support to the cities of the region on the green recovery path, identifying the most urgent issues, as well as the priorities to take into account for this path”, defended Muñoz.
For the manager of Institutional Relations and Advocacy of ICLEI South America, Rodrigo Corradi, throughout Latin America there is a trend of increasing responsibilities of local governments and their possibilities of action in different areas. For Corradi, the event strengthened the role of local and regional governments as drivers of this trajectory.
«In the current context of economic and health crisis, cities must commit to a green recovery that promotes sustainable, environmentally responsible and socially inclusive urban development. Now, more than ever, work aligned with the realities and actors of the territory is fundamental”, emphasized Corradi.
Adding to the initiatives for the region, the C40 prepared a Mayors Agenda for Green and Just Recovery. As explained by the Regional Director of the C40 for Latin America, Manuel Oliveira, this agenda shows the actions that can be taken quickly or in the medium term and actions that were shared with the mayors of the C40 in the world and many outside of the organization are being taken.
“The agenda also includes a list of actions recommended or requested from national governments and multilateral institutions asking that: the only stimulus be a green stimulus; there be a commitment to an equitable and inclusive recovery; protect and promote mass transportation; prioritize the investment in clean energy; invest in resilience in cities and eliminate investments in fossil fuels» said Oliveira.
Likewise, the C40 helped the cities of its network, with resources from the British Government, to prepare a climate action plan (PAC) whose principle is a green and fair recovery that is reflected in the priority investments that the cities have defined within the plan. Based on the aforementioned agenda and the PACs, the institution has been helping cities guide their investments and expand discussions with national governments as appropriate, told us Manuel Oliveira.
The region’s efforts are also recognized by the European Union, which is the funding institution since 2017 and continues to be for this new phase of the Global Covenant of Mayors. Stephanie Horel, Program Manager of the Foreign Policy Instruments Service of the European Union Delegation in Latin America, thanked the cities that participated in the event and the organization for the inspiration they have provided with their experiences.
“From the European Union side we are very happy to be able to work as facilitators of these horizontal networks of cities and citizens, and we congratulate you all for the effort that you are making to connect projects and solutions that are being developed in cities with policies and plans at the national level (NDC) and international, as well as with instances of the United Nations, guardians of the Paris Agreement. You will always have the support of the European Union for the rapprochement of these networks. For us, the role that the GCoM is playing is fundamental, and I am very happy to have participated in this successful meeting”, Horel declared.
If you want to know more about the event, watch the video of the meeting that is available on the Covenant’s YouTube channel: