Specialists agreed today on the urgency of implementing a transformative change that would enable moving towards a multiscale sustainable development where equality and sustainability are the goals, and where no one is left behind, during a side event of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum, which is taking place in New York.
The event entitled Opportunities for integrating biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and transformative action by women, indigenous peoples and local communities, and subnational governments in Latin America and the Caribbean for the advancement of Goals 5, 14 and 15 was organized by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Government of Argentina.
The multistakeholder gathering was inaugurated by Jeannette Sánchez, Director of the Natural Resources Division of ECLAC; Juan Cabandié, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Argentina (video); and Betania González, National Director of Biodiversity at Argentina’s Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.
Also participating were Georgina Catacora Vargas, President of the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology; Ricardo Campos, President of the Indigenous Tourism Network of Mexico; Esther Camac Ramírez of the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas; Vivienne Solis, Associate and Founding Member of the CoopeSolidar R.L. organization of Costa Rica; Sergio Graff, Secretary of Environment from the State of Jalisco, Mexico; and Paul Dale, Advisor on International Issues to the Secretariat of Infrastructure and Environment of the Government of São Paulo. The closing segment of the event was led by Ana Guezmes, Director of ECLAC’s Division for Gender Affairs.
The gathering sought to contribute to disseminating concrete, positive practices that the region is developing to overcome the structural constraints of inequality, based on economic, social and cultural rights, collective rights related to the environment, autonomy in decision-making, strengthening the transformative actions of women, indigenous peoples and local communities and on the part of subnational governments to bolster implementation from the local to the regional level.
In her opening remarks, the Director of ECLAC’s Natural Resources Division, Jeannette Sánchez, affirmed that the UN regional commission advocates for a transformative, structural change of society as a whole through a big push for sustainability.
She underlined that the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will not be achieved unless much bigger efforts are made. In that vein, she specified that in this century, the region’s deforestation rate fell by nearly half, but in the last decade, it increased in 15 of the region’s 33 countries and it continues to be high.
In addition, the majority of countries have more marine territory than land area, and oceans are fundamental for economies and countries’ livelihoods; however, the region is home to 2 of the 3 global fishing areas with the lowest proportion of sustainability, and the contributions of oceans continue to be scarcely contemplated at all levels.
“It is not realistic to achieve significant changes through a few transformations. A system of coherent and articulated changes is urgently needed to address various crises at different levels and among different sectors and actors, and we cannot afford to miss the opportunity of pandemic recovery efforts for that purpose,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Juan Cabandié, Argentina’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, indicated that Latin American and Caribbean countries have many socio-environmental vulnerabilities and deficiencies.
“We debate about sustainable development, but if the core countries of the northern hemisphere keep growing in emissions, environmental degradation will keep happening,” the Minister affirmed, urging for building a fairer society in social and environmental terms.
Betania González, National Director of Biodiversity of Argentina, highlighted the country’s National Biodiversity Strategy, a State policy that defines the main actions for promoting greater awareness and appreciation of our common goods and the ecosystem services that they provide.