The Latin American Declaration is here!

Along with the Mock COP26 Global Treaty, delegates from Latin American Countries (South America, Central America and the Caribbean) got together to summarise their High-Level Statements into a powerful declaration focused on the common points that we felt needed to be addressed more strongly.

The Latin American Declaration focuses on our structural problems like colonization, exploitation of natural resources and strong social inequalities, Latin American youth demands and proposals of actions that can be taken by Latin governments to give force to the Global Treaty on all six key themes: Climate Justice, Climate Education, Climate Resilient Livelihoods, Physical and Mental Health, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and Protecting Biodiversity.

As part of our action points, we talk about the need to declare a climate emergency and implement agreements such as the Escazú Agreement; adoption of mitigation, adaptation and preservation practices; activist safety; human rights, agroforestry; green jobs; standing forests economy; tougher regulation for polluters and much more. 

The Declaration is available in English, Portuguese, Spanish, French and Hindi. 

Interested in knowing more? 

Read the Declaration here and join us in giving strength to Latin voices!

#LetsTransformTheWorldTogether #LatinAmericanDeclaration #MockCOP26

Mock COP26 Latin American Declaration 

Summary 

  • Introduction: Origins of Mock COP26, its legacy, countries involved
  • Latin America Declaration 

Issues & Justification: Climate Justice, Climate Education, Physical and Mental Health, Climate Resilient Livelihoods, Biodiversity, Climate effects and risks and Climate adaptation

Demands 

Actions to be taken: 

  • Access our High-Level Statements 
  • Translations: Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Hindi Versions
  • Bibliography

Introduction 

Origins of Mock COP26 

In 2020, students from the Teach the Future campaign looked for ways to influence the outcomes of COP26 by seeking further commitments to support the provision of universal, scientific climate education. With the postponement of COP26, the students decided to act to promote their own COP26 event, taking greater account of young people’s priorities. 

With the support of individual students involved in Fridays for the Future International 2, the original group of young people grew and spread across the globe. To fill the void left by the postponement of the COP26, the group decided to hold a youth-led Mock COP event, to express the demands of young people that five key themes be addressed, namely: 

  1. Climate Justice 
  2. Climate Education 
  3. Climate Resilient Livelihoods 
  4. Physical and Mental Health 
  5. Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) 

This larger group ratified the five Mock COP26 themes and then agreed to a delegate application process, speaker nomination process, budget, and programme. The group then agreed to directly address global governments and demand that the obligations enclosed in this Declaration are adopted by all countries before, or at, COP26 and made legally binding. 

Mock COP26 was attended by 330 delegates (aged 11 to 30) from 140 countries, thereby representing the youth of the vast majority of countries that will be represented at COP26 itself. Delegates were not only climate activists but witnesses of climate change and of its impacts in their own communities. 

Delegates proposed policies that went through a process of review and voting during six regional caucus events. Delegates voted as delegates rather than as delegations, and each delegate from the Global South was eligible for a weighted 1.1 vote, which was applied if the weighting affected the outcome of the vote. Some delegates chose to remain anonymous because they feared repercussions from their participation in the conference, due to rules or oppression in their countries. 

Delegates submitted high-level statements explaining how the climate emergency and ecological crisis is impacting their nation and what they consider should be done to tackle the crisis. A consistent theme running through these statements was that the delegates were experiencing the impacts of the crisis right now and they want to see action and not just words from the leaders of the world.

Mock COP26’s Legacy 

Although the Mock COP26 Event reached a close, there is still a legacy to fulfil in the months leading up to the COP26. A huge element of the legacy work revolves around establishing a dialogue with world leaders and ensuring the efforts towards substantive action is both encouraged and implemented. 

Countries involved 

This declaration has been constructed by a joint force of Latin American (South America, Central America and Caribbean) countries’ delegates so that we can give our message a bigger voice. We have constructed the declaration, united every country’s demands pointed out in the High-Level Statements and summarized them to make them stronger. 

The countries involved are: 

  • Argentina
  • Belize 
  • Bolivia 
  • Brazil 
  • Chile 
  • Colombia 
  • Costa Rica 
  • Dominican Republic 
  • Dominica 
  • Ecuador 
  • Guatemala 
  • Mexico 
  • Paraguay 
  • Peru 
  • Venezuela

Latin America Declaration 

Issues & Justification 

It is known for a fact that countries in the Global South have been dealing with the effects not only of the climate crisis but also with colonization, which affects the ways policies are conducted here. Latin American (this term refers to South America, Central America and the Caribbean on this document) countries have been dealing with the invasion and exploitation of our territories, the disrespect of native peoples, the uncontrolled deforestation of our lands and the poisoning of our soil and water from extractivist practices that do not represent our traditional practices. Latin American communities come from a place of connection and respect with the land. Indigenous and traditional practices view Mother Earth not only as our home but as part of their own. When we kill what sustains our life, we commit suicide. 

The people who are benefiting and taking profit from the current exploitation model of living are not the ones suffering the consequences. Even though we are taking the floor now, there is a historical debt that needs to be addressed; we are the ones who have had our most Basic Human Rights taken away from us and we are the ones taking most strength to make a chance for our future. We not only want to be heard, but we also want to be seen as the strong people we are and be given the chance to transform our world into a place where we are equal. Therefore, we believe that it is important for us to tackle the climate crisis from all fronts, building a socially, economically and ecologically balanced society. 

  • Climate Justice 

When we talk about Climate Justice, it is about acknowledging that climate change is not only an environmental problem, but it is also a political, economical and ethical problem, and therefore it has different (and often more severe) social, economic and public health impacts on underprivileged populations, usually referred to as “social minorities”: women, children, people of colour, traditional communities, lgbtq+ people, people with disabilities, and others, all mostly in the situation of poverty; what happens is that those groups are not minorities in number, they represent most of our world population but still don’t hold the same rights as the privileged ones and, in consequence, feel the collapse of the systems much harder. 

One instrument to try to build a more climate justice world is the Escazú Agreement, created in 2018, taking the name of Costa Rica’s city where it was adopted. The Escazú Agreement is an international agreement made by Latin America and the Caribbean countries referring to the protection of the environment and of human rights. It seeks to point that decision making shall be held in an informative, participatory and inclusive way, guaranteeing the protection of human rights to activists, combating inequalities and the culture of privilege.

Considering that the Latin American region is one of the most affected areas by the climate crisis and has had to deal with centuries of corrupt governments and resources exploitation that lead to huge deforestation levels, the non-compliance of laws and civil constitutions, huge inequality and much more, it has become one of the most dangerous places to be a climate activist and to fight for the land. Thus, it is easy to see how important it is that agreements such as Escazú are implemented in Latin America to guarantee a new system free from inequalities as such. 

  • Climate Education 

Educational systems in most countries of Latin America are supposed to be built with public participation plans that respect the sovereignty of the people, teaching them not only subjects like maths and languages, but also teaching citizenship and liberation. Unfortunately, that is not the case: with huge interventions from religious entities and the private sector, most school curriculums don’t address political education and therefore, don’t teach citizens how to participate in public decision making spaces and the importance of addressing other social problems such as climate change. 

Climate Education aims to teach and create a discussion about climate change in all school curriculums, public or private, building a sustainable future and inspiring actions based on scientific data and non-bias information. Considering the cultural diversity held in Latin America and the traditional practices of connection to the land that already exists, it is important for Climate education to include and respect our traditional knowledge. Many traditional communities use alternative educational approaches and that must be respected and sustained. The goal is to create better citizens, teach about human rights and about global and future issues. 

According to a survey conducted by Stanford University, from all the students who had had climate education as a subject, 83% of the students improved their ecological behaviour. This proves that Climate Education helps people understand and address the impact of global warming, increases “climate literacy” among young people, encourages changes in their attitudes and behaviour and helps them adapt to climate change-related change trends, as pointed by Unesco. 

  • Physical and Mental Health 

Given that the countries located in the Global South suffer more from the climate crisis, it is impossible for the people who live there not to feel the physical and mental effects of the environment around them. Those exposed to the effects of climate change face problems such as insolation, hunger, food insecurity and therefore nutrient deficiencies and obesity, higher chances of getting some cancers and other malformations of the body due to exposure to stronger sunlight and some chemicals and pesticides, more propensity to some allergies (skin and respiratory), and are also more likely to contract some infectious diseases, just to quote some of the physical health problems.

Then, it is impossible not to mention the mental health effects of climate change as well. People exposed to climate-related effects feel more helpless and more inclined to feel depression. Young people are taking a huge part in tackling the climate crisis which is often related to feelings like higher levels of anxiety and eco-anxiety (chronic fear of environmental destruction). Many other mental disorders are also mentioned in studies. Exposure to chemicals can also lead to dementia and Alzheimer at old age. 

According to an IPBES report, urbanization can increase the isolation from nature and therefore stop people from enjoying the mental health benefits of natural environments. Staying in touch with nature has many positive effects on our health. According to a recent Global Environmental Outlook, forests can promote physical and mental wellbeing. 

Considering the economic relation to how countries deal with public health, they have fewer resources to tackle these problems, which are related to the climate crisis and the changes in the environment around them. It is important that the actions taken consider balanced and healthy ecosystems as a part of public health, given that food security and sovereignty, protection from epidemics, clean water and air and many other benefits come from it: it is not possible to continue to discuss nature and human health as two separate things. As mentioned before, we consider that taking care of our home (Earth) is also taking care of ourselves. 

  • Climate Resilient Livelihoods 

A great part of CO² emission in Latin America comes from Land Use Change, which reflects the way we build our cities, treat our forests and develop our agricultural practices, therefore comes from the high level of deforestation, wildfires, appropriation of public lands to private usage and bad land distribution, bad soil usage from extensive agricultural practices that causes desertification and landslides, among other climate-related phenomenons that come from human intervention. Other than agricultural commodities, most countries in Latin America also depend greatly on the extraction of natural resources such as mining for exportation, which doesn’t take into consideration the traditional and indigenous lands that should be protected and guaranteed to the peoples. 

In the urban scenario, we are forced to deal with bad landfill sites, urbanization problems like high levels of homelessness and the creation of slums (or favelas), lack of basic public sanitation, traffic jams, and cities that are not adapting to climate effects and therefore are very hot. The economical activities don’t adjust to these factors which contribute to scenarios even more chaotic and that lead to the diseases quoted beforehand and green jobs are advancing at a really slow pace if they are at all. 

These urban and rural problems demonstrate the lack of economic adaptation to the changes we are going through, which shows the need for us to create Climate Resilient Livelihoods, which means creating environments and economic activities and bases that are able to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to the natural events that come for climate change-related events, creating coping mechanisms that mitigate and assess the risks. 

  • Biodiversity, Climate effects and risks and Climate adaptation 

Central America, South America and the Caribbean harbour unique ecosystems and maximum biodiversity, with a variety of eco-climatic gradients rapidly changing from development initiatives. Agricultural and beef production, as well as bioenergy crops, are on the rise, mostly by expanding agricultural frontiers. Poverty and inequality are decreasing but at a slow pace. Socio-Economic development shows a high level of heterogeneity and a very unequal income distribution, resulting in high vulnerability to climatic conditions. 

Land use and land cover change are key drivers of regional environmental change in the Latin American region. Natural ecosystems are affected by climate variability/change and land-use change. Deforestation, land degradation, and biodiversity loss are attributed mainly to increased extensive agriculture for traditional export activities and bioenergy crops. 

Latin America’s climate is already changing and the impacts are already being felt. Risks related to climate change arise from climate-related hazards (climate trends and extremes) and the vulnerability of exposed societies, communities or systems (in terms of livelihoods, infrastructure, ecosystem services and governance systems). Effective measures to adapt to climate change and reduce the risks associated with climate change can address all three aspects of risk: hazard, vulnerability and exposure. 

According to the Fifth Assessment Report by the IPCC (AR5), climate projections suggest across Latin America by 2100 (medium confidence – MC): first, that there will be an increase in temperature warming from +1.6°C to +4°C in CA +1.7°C to +6.7°C in SA (MC); second that rainfall trends will be highly irregular, rainfall changes for CA range from between -22% to +7%, while in SA rainfall may vary geographically, most notably showing a reduction of -22% in Northeast Brazil, with an increase of +25% in Southeastern SA (low confidence) and an increase in dry spells in tropical SA east of the Andes (MC); and third, global average sea level will continue to rise during the 21st century; under all emissions scenarios – low and high – the rate of sea-level rise will very likely exceed that observed during the past three decades. 

The AR5 also identifies a set of climate-related risks for Latin America. These are water availability, flooding and landslides, declines in food production and quality, and the Spread of diseases. The considerable threats outlined by the IPCC could undermine the progress that Latin American countries have made in tackling poverty in the past decades, together with gains in economic growth. The IPCC points out that there are many complementarities among climate adaptation, mitigation and development and provides a wealth of evidence to support this. So governments, businesses and communities will have to take both short- and long-term approaches to managing climate risks. In the short term, integrating climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction will help withstand shocks to human security and economic development from which recovery can be costly. In the longer term, governments, businesses and communities need not only prepare for the kinds of climate impacts experienced up to now but also for different and more intense climate impacts and extreme events. 

Latin America’s climate is changing and the change that is occurring is having major effects on communities and their way of life. Given the changes in rainfall and seasonal patterns being experienced, farmers and indigenous inhabitants have become vulnerable to the effects of climate change and the security of their livelihoods is at risk. The frequency and intensity of extreme climatic events such as heatwaves and erratic heavy rainfall and stronger hurricanes are expected to increase. The effects of these climatic changes will become even more pronounced in the future, particularly in Latin America where livelihoods and ecosystems are highly sensitive to changes in climate. For this reason, effective strategies and plans for adaptation to both climate change and climate variability are of central importance to countries, to ensure that continued development in vulnerable areas is resilient to the impacts of climate change. Understanding how to build livelihood resilience to an uncertain future is critical as livelihood systems must adapt to local and regional climatic change. 

In Central America and in the Caribbean, recent weather events including two major hurricanes, Eta and Iota, have shown the increasing threat climate change poses to the livelihoods and lives of vulnerable communities. According to the UNICEF Central America Humanitarian Situation report, approximately 3.4 million people across the region have been left in dire need of assistance. People and livestock have been displaced as well as major losses in infrastructure and agricultural produce. As a result, climate change indisputably has impacted a wide variety of human rights, most of which many people in Latin America are already struggling to cope with such as the rights to development, food, health, water and sanitation and housing. 

The Andean mountain range region present in countries like Ecuador is considered “One of the world’s thermometers” because of the fragility and sensibility to temperature variations, between ice and highlands grasses and the unique ecosystems. In the last 50 years, researchers have been analyzing differences between temperatures and environmental conditions to help us to know if we have induced and the research data is shocking. The Glacier ice has been melting between 30-50% and the temperature rate has increased in 0.5° C in the same range, the ice fragility has increased because of the ice thickness decreasing by 1.35m per year. This is just literally “the tip of the iceberg” because there exists other evidence and other ways to understand the Climate Change consequences. Climate Resilient practices such as agroforestry, organic gardening, small livestock breeding, standing forest economy, adaptation and transition to green jobs, mitigation and restoration must be implemented immediately if we want to build just transitions. 

It is necessary for all the countries to implement better and more ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to follow the goals of the Paris Agreement considering all of the points and data mentioned by scientists, traditional and indigenous communities and here in this document by us, Latin American Youth, as part of the civil society. Having goals that go as far as 2050 is not good enough, as we believe action needs to be taken now or else we won’t even make it that far into the future. We strongly believe that COP 26 must be a space for decision-makers to pass better amendments for the Paris Agreement to be more effective and immediate; Earth can no longer wait for the liberal economic necessities to come first and the agreement must reflect that. We need all countries to start transitioning to economic systems that are nature-based and that include principles of democracy in all base reforms that need to pass for that to be achieved. 

Another UN instrument that needs better attention is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. Although they are very wide, the SDGs contain 17 action points and 169 goals to achieve social, environmental, economic and institutional justice. The full implementation of those aspects can and needs to be adopted by the dialogue between governments, civil society organizations, academia, local governments and even with the private sector so that we can amplify the bases of actors mobilization and responsibilization of the parts, making better collaborative models among the sectors that allow the SDGs to discuss with the NDCs to form better action plans and public policies. 

Demands 

Given all of the mentioned data, it was clear for us, Latin American youth, that our demands merged in several points as we speak up about very similar environmental and governmental issues. It was noticed that all our countries deal with extreme denial of the climate crisis from the government’s parts and a lack of policies that acknowledge the importance of intersectional constructions to tackle the immediate need for change. 

The definition of democracy includes the participation of the people as part of the solution and the voices to be heard. However, indigenous and traditional communities, climate activists, groups and organizations suffer attacks from armed groups and, sometimes, even from the governments themselves and have no protection laws to help them fight for climate justice nor to protect their territories. Environmental policies are built with almost no public or scientific participation, selling our territories to capital interest and giving away our richness, land and resources, with no transparency at all. 

Nevertheless, for our active political participation to be possible it would be necessary for us to also have Basic Human Rights guaranteed; thus, we would need water, basic sanitation, housing, food, land and education to be recognized and guaranteed as public principles that cannot be transformed into products or be privatized; governments must guarantee and ensure the quality and distribution of such to all peoples. 

We understand that it is necessary for us to develop in a way that is connected to our ancestrality: we are one with the Earth and should treat our home as such. That being said, the predatory conduction of agricultural practices and extractive practices must cease immediately. We are already feeling the effects of those practices: droughts, hurricanes, floods, loss of biodiversity, desertification and many other natural disasters that could be prevented by the immediate conduction of mitigation and adaptation practices and that can no longer be denied. 

Even though we take a great part of the world’s food production, our people are still going through hunger, malnutrition, food insecurity and lack of food sovereignty: most of our production is conducted in monocultures of commodities for exportation that demands huge amounts of pesticides and chemical additives be produced. That not only causes the soil to become unproductive as it also has many social and health problems directly caused by this. Latin America is home to many different species of seeds and an unexplainable food diversity: our production must reflect that, not transgenic soybean, corn and livestock, adopting back our integrated agroecological production practices. 

Those of us located in South America and that share the Amazon forest also claim for the crisis to be recognized: military reinforcement is being used as a form of controlling a territory that should belong to all of us when in fact, it is being conceived of even sold for a very low price to foreign capital; we believe in a standing forest economy, where our resources can generate profit and move the economy while preserving the forest and the territories. We do not agree with the poor management of the natural resources that result in unprecedented and undeniably capital-moved deforestation. 

Latin America is a great part of our world, full of cultural and biological diversity and traditional knowledge. There is no reason for us to keep operating our territory under the developmental logic of the Global North, which implicates in the complete disrespect for Mother Earth. We believe in the sovereignty of our land and people and claim for you, our leaders, to recognize our power and start acting on policies that not only can mitigate the socio-environmental crisis we are under but can also transform the way we conduct our way of living. 

Actions to be taken 

  • All countries must declare a state of a climate emergency for it to be possible to conduct real policies and actions for change; 
  • All governments must adopt preservation, mitigation and restoration practices of all their biomes conducted by environmental specialists and respecting the needs of traditional peoples; 
  • To implement laws, investments and public policies that tackle the climate crisis with periodic and more transparent information and evaluation committees that include specialists, academy, civil society and traditional peoples; 
  • To provide tougher regulation to polluters with fines and taxes according to their carbon consumption, promoting a change in the production matrix and guaranteeing the implementation of carbon sequestration market; 
  • To stop investing in fossil fuels in general and transitioning to green energy (always respecting the local specificities in regard to energetic generation); 
  • Leaders from the Global North must recognize their role to guarantee a world with less division, providing whatever the MAPA countries need for mitigation and resilience methods in the face of climate crises; 
  • All nations need to be safe place for climate activists as well as all types of activism. For that to be archived, agreements like the Escazú Agreement must be ratified around the globe;
  • Provide access to indigenous peoples and minority communities to basic human rights, as well as the restoration and restitution of looted territories; 
  • The participation of civil society in the decision-making processes must be ensured by the governments, making sure that all diversity and minority groups, as well as the youth, are heard; 
  • Guarantee sovereignty to our natural resources; 
  • Implement an educational system in which people are taught about the seriousness and scientific basis of the climate crisis; 
  • Transition to a food production system that is aligned with the soil needs and that guarantees nutrients and crops variety enough to ensure the food sovereignty of all peoples. 

Access our High-Level Statements 

Here are the links to access all of our High-Level Statements: 

Access our MOCK COP26 GLOBAL TREATY 

Translations 

Versión en Español – Declaración de América Latina Versão em Português – Declaração da América Latina Version en Français – Déclaration d’Amérique Latine 

Hindi Version – लैटि न अमेरि की घोषणा

Bibliography 

Cuesta, F., Muriel, P., Beck, S., Meneses, R. I., Halloy, S., Salgado, S., … & Becerra, M. T. Biodiversidad y Cambio Climático en los Andes Tropicales-Conformación de una red de investigación para monitorear sus impactos y delinear acciones de adaptación. 2012. Red Gloria-Andes, Lima-Quito, 180 

Cuesta, F., Llambí, L.D., Huggel, C. [et al.]. New land in the Neotropics: a review of biotic community, ecosystem, and landscape transformations in the face of climate and glacier change. 2019. Reg Environ Change 19, 1623–1642. Available on: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-019-01499-3 

Franco, J. Importancia del rio glaciar en la diversificación de comunidades de carabidos de altura, bajo un contexto de cambio climático. 2021. PUCE, Ecuador. 

_. COP21. Understanding Human Rights and Climate Change. Available on: https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/ClimateChange/COP21.pdf 

G.O., J.A. Marengo, J.-P. Boulanger, M.S. Buckeridge, E. Castellanos, G. Poveda, F.R. Scarano, and S. Vicuña. IPCC. Central and South America. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. [et al.] 2014. Available on: https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2018/02/WGIIAR5-Chap27_FINAL.pdf 

Instituto Humanitas Unisinos. A mudança climática piora a saúde mental. 2019. Available on: 

http://www.ihu.unisinos.br/78-noticias/593145-a-mudanca-climatica-piora-a-saude-men tal 

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Reports: Central and South America. Available on: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg2/central-and-south-america/ 

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Reports: Latin America. Available on: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar4/wg2/latin-america/ 

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Climate Change Education and Awareness. Available on: https://en.unesco.org/themes/addressing-climate-change/climate-change-education-an d-awareness#:~:text=Education%20is%20an%20essential%20element,to%20climate%20ch ange%20related%20trends 

United Nations Environment Programme. Cuidar do meio ambiente colabora com a saúde mental. 2019. Available on:

https://www.unenvironment.org/pt-br/noticias-e-reportagens/story/cuidar-do-meio-ambi ente-colabora-com-saude-mental 

United Nations International Children ‘s Emergency Fund Brazil (UNICEF). Conflitos prolongados, crise climática, aumento de doenças mentais e desinformação online entre as maiores ameaças emergentes para as crianças. 2019. Available on: https://www.unicef.org/brazil/comunicados-de-imprensa/conflitos-prolongados-crise-cli 

matica-doencas-mentais-desinformacao-online 

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Latin America and the Caribbean: a laboratory for climate action. 2019. Available on: https://reliefweb.int/report/world/latin-america-and-caribbean-laboratory-climate -action 

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). UNICEF Central America Humanitarian Situation Report No. 3 (Hurricanes ETA and Iota) reporting period 11 – 20 Nov 2020. 2020. Available on: https://reliefweb.int/report/honduras/unicef-central-america-humanitarian-situati on-report-no-3-hurricanes-eta-and-iota

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