Delegates at the Intersessional Forum for Ministers of Environment from Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) over the course of two-days will discuss the current and emerging environmental challenges and ways to address them.
During his opening remarks as President and Chair of the Forum, Minister of Environment and National Beautification, Trevor Prescod, highlighted five challenges LAC should view as critical for discussion, and in so doing seek to implement plans to combat the risk associated.
According to Minister Prescod, those five environmental challenges are: poverty and inequality; water quality; loss of biodiversity; air pollution, which he noted “remains the largest environmental threat to public health in the Latin America and Caribbean Region”, and climate change.
Mr. Prescod stressed that “we simply do not have the luxury of debate or time” because “according to the sixth GEO Assessment for Latin America and the Caribbean, the region currently accounts for only five per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; nevertheless, the social, ecological and economic devastation, and human suffering visited on our region annually by extreme weather events,” impacts us more than those who contribute significantly to GHG emissions.
Therefore, he noted that it was critical for LAC “to build resilience across sectors; protect the most vulnerable among our populations; and advocate to hold accountable, those most responsible for dangerous climate change”.
Minister Prescod urged delegates to agree to a number of specific, practical and implementable interventions which will continue to support common environmental agenda, and thus have a meaningful impact on the lives of the peoples of our hemisphere.
The Environment Minister also called for new and innovative ways to promote and engender a deeper connection between the work of the forum and people of the region; and proposed the development of a LAC Environmental Heroes Award, which would recognize the work done by regular persons, civil society organizations, business enterprises and scientists in the stewardship of the environment.
The President and Chair of the Forum also proposed that a LAC Environment Emergencies and Disaster Resilience Cooperation Programme be established.
He said it should include a network mechanism based on the Hub and Spokes Model, which would allow for sharing of experiences and approaches, as well as the mechanism to mobilize technical assistance in times of need with regard to handling the devastation of hurricanes in the region.