Our input on a new agenda for EU relations with Latin America, Caribbean

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On 9 February, Wetlands International Europe and the Wetlands International Latin America Regional Office submitted feedback on the European Commission’s Joint communication on a new agenda for relations between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean (EU-LAC), which will contribute to the upcoming EU-CELAC summit that will be held on 17-18 July in Brussels.

We recommend the EU to specifically negotiate for recognition of the importance of the conservation and restoration of coastal and inland wetlands as a key element of the green transition in Latin America due to the multiple services they provide, including habitat for biodiversity, climate change adaptation and mitigation, clean water and regional development. In particular, restoring peatlands will contribute to holding carbon in the soil so reducing climate change-inducing emissions.

In the European Green Deal, the EU recognises that the global climate and environmental challenges are a significant multiplier of threats and source of instability. The text commits the EU to working with partners to increase climate and environmental resilience to prevent these challenges from becoming sources of conflict, food insecurity, population displacement and forced migration, and support a just transition globally.

Safeguarding and restoring wetlands are increasingly looked to as the premier nature-based solution to rebuild societal resilience, secure clean water supplies, reduce the impact of floods and droughts, enable food security and buffer people against the ravages of climate change.

Governmental development plans may include wetlands as strategic ecosystems. Legal enforcement of existing environmental laws is also needed at different spatial scales, taking into consideration that five of the largest wetland complexes in the world are in South America, the Amazon, Orinoco, La Plata and Cauca-Magdalena systems.

While climate mitigation must be a key component of strategies to combat climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean, the urgency of strengthened adaptation measures to increase resilience and lower the region’s vulnerability cannot be ignored. The scenarios analysis indicates that LAC is likely to continue to be the region with the lowest carbon content of any regional energy mix through to 2050. However, current data is showing that the region’s systems are already under pressure from changes in the global climate, with these trends expected to worsen and increasingly affect the economy.

Wetlands International Feedback on a New Agenda for EU relations with LAC