Visions of change: Sustainable actions for oceans and wetlands


By Sofía Velásquez

A number of initiatives have recently been undertaken in Latin America with the aim of ensuring a more sustainable future in the context of the climate crisis.

On January 17, Chile became the first country to ratify the UN Global Ocean Treaty,  which seeks to protect and preserve marine biodiversity in international waters. International waters, i.e. those not controlled by any state, represent 2/3 of the oceans. Until now, they have not had a protection instrument. Almost 10% of marine species are in danger of extinction. If ratified by at least 60 countries, this treaty will regulate the environmental impact of activities in international waters and facilitate cooperation between countries in marine technology.

In addition, between 2023 and 2024 the Colombian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development will have issued a total of six calls for proposals to finance sustainable projects to be implemented by peasants, indigenous, black, Afro-Colombian, Raizal, Palenquero communities, and citizens in general. For indigenous peoples, there is also a special focus on supporting the governance of their territories and their conservation. In total, the ministry will allocate 2.13 trillion Colombian pesos to these projects.

Various foundations and NGOs in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile created the Andean Wetlands Alliance to promote their protection and conservation by the end of 2023. Andean and high Andean wetlands are ecosystems of high environmental and social value, including salt flats, lakes and lagoons, hot springs and geysers, wetlands, and peat bogs. These maintain an important biological diversity and are often the only habitat for some species, in addition to providing ecosystem services to people.

Argentina, Bolivia and Chile account for more than 53% of global lithium reserves.  Its growing demand has led to rapid mining that threatens wetlands. The Alliance aims to protect these important and vulnerable ecosystems, in addition to promoting a sustainable and long-term socioeconomic alternative.

Finally, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has committed to triple climate finance for Latin America in the next decade. This would mean an important contribution to climate change mitigation in a region that faces multiple environmental challenges and needs to be better prepared to adapt to changes and move towards sustainability. The IDB is expected to provide US$150 billion for renewable energy projects, Amazonian and forest conservation, just economic transition, among others.


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