Latin American / Caribbean Dialogue Successful

The First Latin American and Caribbean Dialogue on Climate Change concluded successfully. The event was organized jointly by the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation (SEPLAN) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (SERNA) of Honduras.

SEPLAN Meets in Honduras

Mr. Rigoberto Cuéllar, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment (SERNA), Honduras and Mr. Julio Raudales, Minister of Planning and External Cooperation (SEPLAN), Honduras. ( Left to right.)

Tela, Honduras. After two days of presentations, speeches, debates and thematic meetings, those attending the First Latin American and Caribbean Dialogue on Climate Change Finance and Development Effectiveness agreed that improving the capacity of governments to make effective use of the resources allocated for this matter is crucial. This would affect the management of funds from bilateral and multilateral agencies as well as the sound management of national budgets for facing the challenges of climate change.

The ministers Julio Raudales of the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation (SEPLAN) and Rigoberto Cuéllar of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (SERNA), and Peter Versteeg, Charge d´Affaires of the European Delegation in Honduras were among the speakers who inaugurated the event. Mr. Cuellar pointed out how food security is threatened by climate change and emphasized the need for territorial and environmental planning. Mr. Raudales reminded the audience of the huge economic costs the Latin American and Caribbean region has suffered over the last decades, resulting from climate change, and the urgent need to access the available and future climate change funds.

“During the presentations it became clear that a significant amount of funds available for climate change are not being used because the countries are insufficiently aware of the mechanisms for accessing these resources,” said Jimy Ferrer, Economic Affairs Officer for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) and researcher for the EUROCLIMA programme of the European Union.

Given this, Stefan Agne, of the Directorate-General for Climate Action of the European Commission, said it is essential that climate change issues are integrated into national planning and budgets as well as international cooperation actions. “It is important to find a way to simplify access to national and international resources to implement climate change policies,” Agne said.

The Dialogue provided a unique opportunity to exchange experiences among experts from most Latin American and Caribbean countries, regarding specific challenges such as the management of National Funds, coordination between ministries and the integration of climate change priorities into national budgets. According to Nils-Sjard Schulz, advisor to the Government of Honduras, specialized exchanges like these are vital for identifying South-South learning opportunities and working jointly on more effective solutions.

“Knowing that there is a special fund in Colombia dedicated to addressing disaster issues and that in the Dominican Republic the issue of climate change is being integrated into all the spheres of government is very rewarding for us because we can learn from the experiences of these and other countries and find out about the path they have taken,” said Irina Pineda, Director of SERNA’s Directorate of External Cooperation and Resource Mobilization and focal point for the EUROCLIMA programme for Honduras.

She also stressed the commitment of each one of the participants in widely sharing this experience and to continue working so that climate change issues are not solely the concern of those dealing directly with them. Instead this information must spread beyond the spheres of government through ministries, academia, civil society, indigenous communities, and others.

At the event, presentations were also given on the funds for climate change available in the region and the tools used by development banks to provide this support. In addition, they analyzed the country information sheets that each national representative had prepared showing summaries of the policies and actions undertaken by their governments on this climate finance.

Dialogue participants spent time woking in groups to exchange experiences and draw on lessons learned about the challenges in the region regarding climate change finance, capacity building in government institutions and opportunities for South-South cooperation. Best practices in the region were presented that will serve as examples to all countries for better management of climate change finance within their governments.

This First Dialogue concluded with a plenary presentation of the Conclusions of Tela, the document that contains the agreements made in this first meeting. One of these agreements indicates that a group of government experts will be formed to work on the main challenges of climate funding governance. Country studies will also be produced that are expected to contribute to the development of institutional capacity in this area.

Finally, Lidia Fromm, Director General of External Cooperation for SEPLAN, noted that the countries will meet again in a second Latin American and Caribbean Dialogue, an event that is expected to occur in 2012 or the beginning of 2013.

The Regional Dialogue brought together representatives from four continents, 26 countries and 90 representatives from Environmental, Finance, Planning and Cooperation ministries and civil society organizations. It also had support from several international organisations such as the European Union through the EUROCLIMA programme, the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the World Bank Institute, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE), the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and Australian Cooperation (AusAID).

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