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Climate change: a clean, green and sustainable future is not so much about spending more, but about spending better

Green" recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean is possible without the need for new financial resources, but rather a better investment strategy
Pep Bonet/NOOR for FAO - Una piscifactoría para la cría de tilapia de forma sostenible en Guatemala

Pep Bonet/NOOR for FAO  -   A fish farm for sustainable tilapia farming in Guatemala

A new COVID-19 pandemic recovery expenditure tracking tool shows that green recovery is possible, but better investment is needed.

This is the conclusion reached using the Latin America and Caribbean Recovery Tracker, based on the Global Recovery Observatory initiative led by the Oxford University Economic Recovery Project and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

This tracking tool monitors on a weekly basis the COVID-19 related fiscal spending policies announced by the 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. One of the main functions of the tracker is to bring transparency to regional government spending, indicating the destination of funds and their potential economic, environmental and social impact.

The tool is also designed to show policy solutions and identify more effective and sustainable investment opportunities for governments and other actors. Initial results show that only six of the 33 countries in the region spend more than 0.1% of their GDP on remediation.

"Aligning investments with a clean, green and sustainable future is not so much about spending more, but about spending better," said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa after presenting the initial results of the Latin America and the Caribbean Recovery Tracker Tool.

In addition, the new tool provides insight into funding for pandemic recovery taking into account climatic circumstances.

Latin America has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The region, home to 8% of the world's population, has accounted for around 29% of deaths from the pandemic. The tragedy is also economic, as the region will see its GDP shrink by 7% by 2020.
Investing more in the unsustainable than the sustainable

According to the tool, the region has spent $7.4 billion on unsustainable sectors, compared to $1.5 billion on sustainable initiatives. In terms of business as usual, 74% of the spending was on fossil energy infrastructure, and 13% on unsustainable port and airport infrastructure, which is expected to lead to increased carbon emissions.

The initial results of the recovery tracker were presented at a high-level event on 10 June 2021, where Patricia Espinosa called for better investment. The head of UN Climate Change and leaders of major countries and international institutions discussed pressing issues such as the risk to the region's economies if they do not align their recovery efforts with the Paris Agreement, or how Latin American countries can better leverage recovery spending to accelerate the transition to a sustainable and inclusive economy.

World Bank/Illuminati Films - Agricultura sostenible en Goiás, en Brasil
World Bank/Illuminati Films - Sustainable agriculture in Goiás, Brazil
Opportunities are numerous

The dialogue, which was always kept on a positive note, emphasised that the high-impact opportunities for the region are numerous and require a mix of policy measures.

Policy discussions identified options in sustainable energy, non-conventional renewable energy, energy efficiency, zero-emission public and private transport, and nature-based solutions that ensure adaptation in key sectors on which communities depend, such as agriculture and urban development.

The recovery tracking tool is based on the Global Recovery Observatory initiative, led by the Oxford University Economic Recovery Project.

In addition, the tracker is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Monetary Fund and the German organisation GIZ through the Green Fiscal Policy Network (GFPN). UNEP is the host partner of the Regional Collaborating Centre in Panama.

The video of the high-level event is posted on this YouTube link, and more information is available on the LAC recovery tracker website.