FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

Green Recovery and Ecosystem Restoration Technical Webinar with the EU/relevant DGs

Part of a series of technical webinars informing the forthcoming FAO-EU Strategic Dialogue

Wednesday 24 February 2021


In Latin America and the Caribbean, the European Union and FAO work together because we have shared objectives and aspirations.

Our projects and initiatives are instruments of those objectives and aspirations.

Latin America and the Caribbean has suffered greatly during the pandemic. With 8% of the world's population, we have 27% of the global pandemic deaths.

The regional economy contracted about 8% last year, and this year it is expected to grow only 3.6%.

We had a sharp increase in extreme poverty during the first year of the pandemic, perhaps of up to 40%, and we have lost no less than 20 years in the fight to eradicate hunger.

The region is desperate for a recovery and for restoring jobs, and we have the historic opportunity to make it a green recovery in the agrifood systems. This is something that is possible, and it is also indispensable as in the past four decades we have lost 89% of species populations, and because agriculture and land use continue to be responsible for 50.7 percent of all greenhouse emissions in this region, more than the sum of energy, transportation and industry.

Only a few days ago, the Ministers of Environment approved a joint UNEP-FAO Action Plan for the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Last October, Ministers of Agriculture approved an FAO regional initiative on sustainable and resilient agriculture.

These are examples of the policy dialogue that we do to broaden the policy space for a green recovery.

We have done the analyses and prepared the regional programs that can harness ecosystem restoration and the greening of agriculture, to create tens of thousands of much needed jobs in rural areas, where 25% of the population is now in extreme poverty.

We have advanced concept notes on recovery through nature-based solutions, ecosystem restoration and agroforestry in indigenous and afro descendant territories that we can rapidly implement in eight countries in Central America, the Andes and the Caribbean. With these initiatives, we can help create up to nine green jobs for the same cost of one new job in traditional infrastructure projects.

The European Union and FAO have been working together on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in the Amazon, with specific emphasis on its in situ conservation through the efficient management of protected areas in this all-important bioma.

We are working together to strengthen the institutional capacities of the eight Amazonian countries to respond to climate change, forest fires, encroaching, illegal mining, and expansion of the agriculture frontier.

FAO is now starting to develop an initiative involving five countries to promote sustainable and agroecological Amazonian cocoa value chains, as a green alternative to deforestation.

The cooperation of the European Union and FAO has been very important in the strengthening of REDPARQUES whose members in 21 countries cooperate to strengthen protected areas across the region. Our collaboration has made a meaningful contribution to the region achieving 23.6 percent and 18.1 percent of protected terrestrial and marine territories, respectively. The European Union was particularly important in the critical task of generating data, information and analyses for science-based decision-making. Now, with the European Union's support and with REDPARQUES, we are advancing in the evaluation of management effectiveness in these protected terrestrial and marine areas.

We are also working together in Guyana to improve wildlife management in Guyana.

One project that shows the potential of green recovery to contribute to hugely important social objectives, is the "Sustainable Amazon Corridors for Peace by Youth" and the new projects that we are designing for the green recovery of livelihoods of victims of the armed conflict, both of them in Colombia.

The Food Systems Summit offers a great opportunity to advance green recovery commitments of the member countries. This is why our Country Representatives are putting this issue on the table in all national dialogues.

Let me finish by saying that projects are not an end in themselves. They are very important, but they are a drop in the ocean of a strong green recovery. This is why we place such a strong emphasis on policy dialogue and scaling up the results and knowledge generated by these projects, to impact on national policies and public budgets, on the business models of the private sector, and on regional political agreements.

We have done a lot, but we still have much to do together in Latin America and the Caribbean, so that the recovery is green.