Tue | Sep 22, 2020

Earth Today | ‘Green’ recovery a must for the C’bean

Published:Thursday | September 17, 2020 | 12:14 AM

AS THE world continues the fight against COVID-19, the Caribbean and Latin America are reminded to strive for a ‘green’ recovery, given the harsh realities of a changing climate that looms large.

“The climate crisis in our region is not going away,” Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, vice-president of the World Bank for Latin America and the Caribbean, writes in an article shared with The Gleaner.

“Climate, like the COVID-19 crisis, takes the greatest toll on the most vulnerable people in the region. In terms of migration alone, there could be as many as 17 million climate refugees across the region by 2050 from areas where livelihood systems are increasingly compromised by climate change,” he warned.

Both COVID-19 and the prevailing climate crisis, with its experienced and promised impacts – from warmer global temperatures and the implications for disease spread to the extreme weather events, including hurricanes and droughts – enhance the vulnerabilities of those already vulnerable.

For this reasons, Jaramillo has said it is critical to rebuild better.

“As we look to recovery from COVID, we must rebuild better to take the coming climate crisis into account. Right now, most economies in the region are facing two major challenges: recovering from a severe economic recession, while addressing the needed transformations required for inclusive growth and sustainable development that delivers a path out of poverty for everyone,” he noted.

“COVID-19 recovery programmes that prioritise productivity, inclusion and resilience will lead to more competitiveness and innovation, and will build confidence in governments and institutions. This will position Latin America and the Caribbean to combat COVID-19 and climate change and help rebuild the social contract so important to accelerate poverty alleviation and shared prosperity” the World Bank representative said.

In this way, Jaramillo has echoed the sentiment of a number of other stakeholders, local and foreign.

“I am concerned that efforts to rebuild economies and societies will be prioritised without an understanding that the lack of concern for man’s interaction with nature caused this pandemic and some other outbreaks in recent years,” Dr Lorna Inniss, coordinator for the Cartagena Convention Secretariat, Ecosystems Division of United Nations Environment in the Caribbean, told The Gleaner in June.

“Consideration of biodiversity and habitats must be mainstreamed within our economic consciousness, not just for human health, but for the health of the only planet we call home,” she added.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has emphasised the need to focus on building back better.

WAKE-UP CALL

“The current crisis is an unprecedented wake-up call,” he noted in his Earth Day 2020 message on April 20.

“We need to turn the recovery into a real opportunity to do things right for the future,” he added.

To make it happen, he has put on the table six specific actions that countries need to take. They include:

• that the huge amounts of money to be spent on recovery from the COVID-19 deliver new jobs and businesses through a clean, green transition;

• that where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue businesses, that they be tied to “achieving green jobs and sustainable growth”;

• that fiscal firepower drive a shift from the grey to green economy, empowering societies and people to be more resilient; and

• that public funds be used to invest in the future, not the past, and flow to sustainable sectors and projects that help the environment and the climate.

The UN boss also advanced that climate risks and opportunities be incorporated into the financial system, aspects of public policymaking and infrastructure, and that all stakeholders work together as an international community.

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