Latin America could be the World Leader in Sustainable Policies, says United Nations

    Latin America could better meet these challenges and be a world leader in sustainable policies by following Costa Rica's example, senior UN officials said when presenting the annual human progress report

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    The annual report, which analyzes and classifies the human progress of each of latin america country, raised Costa Rica and Panama in its ranking, because this year the two countries added variables such as the level of carbon dioxide emissions or the extraction of raw materials.

    Both countries, the UN said, demonstrated “that it is possible to reduce the pressure on the planet” since compared to other nations they present a lower value of emissions and material footprint per capita. Other variables taken into account in the list were the health system, education and quality of life.

    The report, prepared by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), placed Norway as the number one country in human development and Niger as the last, at position 189. In Latin America, Chile, in position number 43, followed by Argentina, Uruguay, Panama and Costa Rica led the regional index and were part of the group with very high human development. At the bottom of the list, in medium development, are El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras with Haiti last in the low development group.

    “Anthropocene” era

    The hundreds of pages long technical report ensured that the COVID-19 Pandemic will not be the last global crisis unless humans protect the environment. The report added that the planet is entering a completely new geological era called the “Anthropocene” or era of human beings and that it is necessary to dismantle the enormous existing imbalances of power to redesign paths towards coexistence with nature.

    Luis López-Calva, UNDP director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said at a press conference that the region has great potential to improve its sustainable policies. “Our region is very rich in biodiversity, in natural resources, in access to the ocean. I believe that it is a region that can be a global leader,” said the official.

    “In fact, we have countries like Costa Rica that are world leaders in terms of policies for nature-based solutions, emissions reduction, carbon neutrality commitments,” added López-Calva, who also gave Chile as example for having committed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

    Facing climate change

    Latin America has also been an innovative region when it comes to joining forces to face climatic disasters, López-Calva said. Peru, Mexico and Chile, for example, jointly created a bond to deal with earthquakes and now they think of joining together to do the same in the face of floods.

    “I believe that this is also a fundamental instrument of how we look for elements that allow countries to protect themselves from these shocks, above all, with an emphasis on protecting the most vulnerable populations,” said López-Calva.

    Latin America is precisely a region of high inequality, he indicated, and therefore the impact on nature is a problem that severely affects people with fewer resources, women, indigenous communities or sectors without decision-making power. “This crisis has reflected a governance problem,” the official said.

    The report highlighted that by the year 2100 the world’s poorest countries could experience up to 100 more days of extreme weather per year due to climate change, a figure that could be cut in half if the Paris Agreement is implemented.


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