Beach before a storm, Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica. Image credit: mark_whatmough / FlickR, licenced under CC BY-NC 2.0
Climate change poses an enormous threat to the exercise and enjoyment of human rights in Latin America. Climate impacts spell out a serious list of structural threats that cause harm to people’s lives and rights. Climate change is rooted in inequality, colonialism, and the improper use of natural resources. The economic model imposed on our societies has generated cross-border environmental damage through climate impacts. The large emitters in the North have put our most vulnerable communities at the forefront of climate change impacts. These communities are being forced to suffer loss and damage disproportionately. The socioeconomic and environmental context of the Global South has been shaped by colonialism and extractive capitalism, which historically has diminished people’s welfare. While communities in the Global North still enjoy the benefits of their carbon-intensive economies, in the Global South, the bill for loss and damage is quietly rising at the expense of those living in vulnerable conditions. 1 OAS, Inequality and Social Inclusion in the Americas: 14 Essays, p. 27 In Latin America, the issue of loss and damage is imperative as there have been manifestations of climate change for years. How to approach the issue, however, still presents a challenge for the region. Latin American countries lack the tools or do not address the urgency of documenting, analyzing, and reporting the seriousness of the loss and damage experienced in the region. Despite the threatening context for sustainable development and social welfare, the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for Latin America include little information on loss and damage. This lack of monitoring, analysis, and reporting presents the greatest challenge to a fair, appropriate, and human rights-based response to loss and damage. This analysis contrasts the information available on climate impacts in the region with NDC data from several Latin American countries and establishes some key recommendations to improve the approach.