The XXII Forum of Ministers of the Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean met virtually on 1-2 February 2021 with a focus on the environmental dimensions of the post-pandemic recovery. Under the presidency of Barbados, discussions led by representatives of the 33 countries of the region focused on the promotion of sustainable development to combine the post-COVID-19 recovery with the fulfillment of the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the fight against climate change.
From a migration perspective, it should be noted that the countries of the region have made progress in integrating human mobility into their climate agenda. The recent report of the Secretary General of the United Nations on the progress made in the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration emphasizes the progress made by countries such as Belize, Guatemala and Peru in addressing climate migration.
However, it is important to remember that this integration continues to be limited to a restricted number of countries in the region. In fact, with some exceptions, few countries have advanced concrete commitments to address the drivers of climate migration and address the needs of migrants. This process requires the development of partnerships and a whole-of-government approach with entities in charge of various sectoral areas.
Ministries of the Environment play a fundamental role in this effort. Strategies such as climate change adaptation plans, nationally determined contributions, and national climate change policies offer opportunities to address climate migration.
The current pandemic context has once again highlighted the vulnerability of populations exposed to climate change in the region. In a context of restricted mobility and economic crisis, vulnerable communities generally have access to restricted livelihoods to cope with disasters and environmental degradation. The experience of Eta and Iota in Central America shows the extent to which multiple risk factors - including natural hazards, socioeconomic vulnerabilities and the pandemic - can create catastrophic scenarios in the region.
Integrating the migration perspective is essential to promote sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery plans. Human mobility is a fundamental feature of the social reality of Latin America and the Caribbean and the evidence shows that environmental and climatic factors will have a growing influence on these movements. Facilitating the resilience of communities so that they are not forced to migrate and meeting the needs of environmental migrants are crucial elements required to consolidate a solidary, comprehensive and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.