By Fabíola Zerbini PhD, Latin America Regional Director of the Tropical Forest Alliance

10 December 2020

There is still a year to go, but preparations and talks around the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26), postponed to November 2021 due to the pandemic, already involve multiple actors around the world. With regard to Latin America, our responsibility is great when we participate in this crucial moment on the global agenda for climate, sustainability and, therefore, the future of humanity.

In our region, the COP26 construction process is participatory, broad and vertical (among producers and buyers). On 29 September, the first multi-stakeholder dialogue was held, bringing together more than 100 key players on the continent, which made it possible to exchange and systematize priorities around public policies for advancing the sustainable land use agenda in our countries and for the consolidation of Latin America as a leading region on the global agenda of climate balance, food security and forest conservation.

Many Latin American countries today face similar challenges, such as declining tax revenues, increasingly polarized societies and uncertainties regarding the nature of the post-Covid recovery. In this context, governments and the governed have the responsibility and the opportunity to place agendas for sustainable land use, climate balance, food security and reduction of social inequality, at the centre of all political decisions aimed at rebuilding our economies and societies. For this catalysed project around COP26, dialogue between producer and buyer countries, between farmers and the demand side, and between the public and the private sector, is essential.

Economic reconstruction based on principles of sustainable land use must be done in conjunction with field actions and public policies. And for that, we need to make use of one of our main strengths as a region: an incomparable political capital, which is confirmed by the quantity, legitimacy and reach of national coalitions. Brazil, Colombia and Peru already host strong coalitions that have worked hard to develop common sustainable land use agendas between the private sector and local civil society. Other countries have alliances around sustainable production chains, and are on track to improve their suprasectoral governance towards the consolidation of multi-stakeholder national coalitions.

In the 29 September dialogues, the coalitions and forums of civil society and the private sector of six countries in Latin America were the active voices that converged on a basic agenda that includes:

1. The effort to implement Payment for Environmental Services programs, in particular by mobilizing local carbon, biodiversity and water markets;

2. The implementation of sustainable financing mechanisms, which enhance and attract public and private resources to the transition agenda;

3. The importance of national or sectoral traceability systems, public and private, that contribute to the transparency and credibility of our countries vis-à-vis national and international markets and consumers; and

4. Action at the jurisdictional level, which has the potential to set agendas on the ground, combining production and protection in key landscapes. 

At the national level, the agendas identified by the coalitions as priorities are:

The TFA Colombia Alliance emphasizes the importance of advancing the internal and external carbon market, the development and effective implementation of public and private financial products adapted to the intelligent development of the climate and the sustainable conversion of the production chains of cocoa, palm oil, meat and milk, the effective implementation of public-private zero deforestation agreements in these chains and the country's National Sustainable Livestock Policy and public-private traceability. 

In Peru, the Coalition for Sustainable Land Use highlights the strategic relevance of consolidating sectoral commitments for the sustainable production of cocoa, palm oil, coffee and Amazonian fruits, currently under negotiation by public and private actors, to advance the Jurisdictional Sustainability, which includes showing success stories, strengthening governance and mobilizing investments for territories where the risk of conversion to productive purposes is high, especially in the Peruvian Amazon; and the implementation of the Green Protocol on the Financial Ecosystem, which will guarantee public and private investments in financing and combined payments for environmental services. 

In Brazil, the Forest and Climate Coalition reinforced the importance of public actions around the six priority areas of action to combat deforestation, which include the strengthening of command and control actions to eradicate illegal deforestation, the full implementation of the Forest Code, the allocation of 10 million hectares of forest for protection and sustainable use, the improvement of monitoring and traceability systems around legal deforestation, and the suspension of land occupation processes for properties deforested after July 2008. The agenda around the saturation of the carbon market associated with a national policy for payments for environmental services were identified as essential to the country. 

The moment requires planned, informed and agreed action at the political level. The continuation and deepening of this multisectoral dialogue over the course of 2021 should result in the strengthening of actions and achievements at the national level, as well as in the definition of a regional agenda.

Latin America, its governments and peoples, have a unique opportunity to find a collective voice that connects global discussions with the challenges and opportunities of existing initiatives, so that we arrive united and strengthened at COP26.  


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