The Environmental Dimension of the SDGs and Agenda 2030 in Latin America and the Caribbean was the focal point of the side event held within the framework of the VII Forum of the Countries of LAC on Sustainable Development 2024. Organised by GCAP and GCAP Latin America and Caribbean on 16 April 2024 in Satiago-Chile, the event highlighted critical environmental challenges and the urgent need for transformative action.

Download the brief of the event in English.

Download the brief of the event in Spanish.

Key Highlights and Discussions

Importance of Environmental Dimension in Agenda 2030:

Speakers emphasized that the environmental dimension of Agenda 2030 is fundamental and should not be overshadowed by economic considerations. Addressing the triple planetary crisis—hunger, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation—requires a balanced and integrated approach. The catastrophic impacts of deforestation, droughts, and pollution underscore the urgent need to question and revise the prevailing development model based on exploitation and plunder of natural resources.

Regional inequality and environmental defenders:

Latin America and the Caribbean are marked by stark inequalities in access to natural resources, often exacerbated by corruption and impunity. The region is the most dangerous for environmental human rights defenders, with many losing their lives annually. Reports from Global Witness and Front Line Defenders highlight the perilous conditions faced by those defending the environment, water, and land.

Pollution and the need for transformation:

High levels of pollution in water, air, and soil were discussed, with an urgent call to transform production and consumption patterns. Shifting away from fossil fuels towards sustainable energy sources is crucial for achieving a safe climate and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants.

Citizen engagement and environmental education:

The role of environmental education in fostering civic engagement was underscored, particularly its importance in involving children and youth. Ensuring their participation in decision-making processes is vital for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The inclusion of marginalized groups—women, youth, indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, older adults, and the LGBTQ+ community—is essential for equitable progress.

Strategic ecosystem protection and climate justice

Speakers highlighted the need for regional cooperation to protect crucial ecosystems, which are maintained by indigenous peoples and local communities. The Global North was called upon to address its “climate debt” to the Global South, emphasizing the need for fair financing mechanisms that do not exacerbate the debt burdens of developing countries.

The Escazú agreement

The Escazú Agreement was praised as a milestone for environmental protection in the region. It is the only international treaty that includes binding provisions for the protection of environmental defenders and aims to overcome barriers to access rights and prevent discrimination.

Action plan for environmental human rights defenders:

At the Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 3) of the Escazú Agreement in April 2024, a Regional Action Plan was approved. This plan aims to implement strategic actions to fully realize Article 9 on environmental human rights defenders.

Advancing towards the 2030 SDGs:

The event concluded with a sobering reminder that most SDGs are on track to achieve only 22% fulfillment in the region. The integration of SDGs, particularly SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), with other goals like SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 4 (Quality Education), and SDG 13 (Climate Action), was discussed.

Call to action:

Human rights are foundational for achieving Agenda 2030. Participants called for heightened awareness of the existential threats facing humanity and the planet. A strong call was made for increased ethical and political commitment to the environmental dimension of Agenda 2030, recognizing the climate crisis as the defining issue of our time. Decisive, urgent actions are required to ensure the survival and well-being of current and future generations.

The event closed with a unanimous agreement on the need for lasting solutions that can effectively respond to the environmental challenges faced by the region and the world.