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OAS General Secretariat Presents Report “Climate Change: Life, Democracy, Freedom, Justice, Equality”

  October 20, 2022

The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) today presented the
“Climate Change: Life, Democracy, Freedom, Justice, Equality,” which analyzes the general threat that climate change and its consequences represent for the global community.

The report starts from the premise that the survival of the planet as we know it and the rights of people, in particular the most vulnerable people, force humanity to face a challenge of a unique nature, and to do so urgently. “We are facing an ethical obligation that leaves us no option,” affirms the report.

To address climate change, continues the report, humanity must “grow from an ethical principle to moral force, and from there to inexorable moral force, so that this ethical principle is incorporated in custom, practice, and national and international law and becomes absolutely and irreversibly mainstream.”

“Countering climate change is of that level of urgency and moral imperative. Ethically and practically, we must counter it with the same urgency as that with which humanity abandoned now unacceptable practices that, moreover, are now punishable
offenses. Because failure to do so, and to do so now, is to condemn millions to poverty, forced exile, and the loss of their homes, workplace conditions, and most cherished rights,” adds the document.

“Humanity was able to overcome other existential dilemmas before, and it did so by gathering the necessary moral force for the triumph of ethics and good, and later converting them into national norms, then into international law and even into jus cogens. That is the dimension of the challenge that climate change presents us, and it is imperative that we counteract it. And that moral obligation is redoubled especially because the populations most affected by its effects are the most vulnerable, the most disadvantaged, those with the least capacity to protect themselves,” said OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro.

Starting with the initial approach, the study analyzes this challenge, with particular attention paid specifically to the OAS member states and proposes concrete actions to effectively contribute to counteracting climate change.

In its first section, the report examines the effects of climate change on the member states of the OAS and highlights the damage and the high costs that it has had, in human lives, human dislocation, and economic destruction. Based on empirical evidence, the report presents the challenges that already confront OAS member states and how they can be aggravated -if the factors that cause climate change are not curbed.

In its last section, the report proposes actions that the Secretary General, and the General
Secretariat of the OAS propose to encourage political consensus and political will by member states of the Organization to confront the common and growing threat of climate change, among them:

• The countries most vulnerable to climate change should have preferential conditions for access to financing, access to non-reimbursable funds and access to trade
• The creation of a global system of subsidies through preferential rates and/or non-reimbursable funds destined for:

o Small island states

o Developing countries with institutional weaknesses that do not have the capacity to bring public services to vulnerable populations

o Countries highly dependent on the exterior (due to the concentration of exports, due to dependence on remittances, due to dependence on foreign investment)

o Countries affected in their infrastructure and housing by natural disasters related to climate change

o Small family farmers or peasants who have seen their last harvests affected in a percentage to be determined in each shock, in each country

o Victims of natural disasters related to climate change

• Encourage the creation of a special fund to finance an expert study that focuses on the critical challenges of climate change for the countries of Central America and the Caribbean in particular.
• Relief from the debt that restricts the ability of thirteen OAS member states to finance resilience to the effects of climate change and rebuild after destruction.
• Urge the member states of the Group of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to take advantage of the scientific and socioeconomic research opportunities related to climate established by the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research.
• Start a campaign to raise awareness among international institutions about the serious situation in Central America, especially in the countries of the Northern Triangle, which is producing refugees as a result of the harmful effects of climate change.
• Obtain funds to finance a study and a report by a Group of Experts with recommendations for action that can act as a catalyst for actions to address irregular migration and refugees caused by the effects of climate change.
• Convene a meeting of the OAS member states that are members of the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) at the United Nations (UN), to consult with them on how the OAS Secretary General could help promote the recommendations of the UN High-Level Group of Experts on the creation of a multidimensional vulnerability index (MVI) as a qualifying measure for concessional and development financing from International Financial Institutions (IFIs).

Reference: E-061/22