In an interview held at COP28, Elkin Velasquez Monsalve, the Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at UN-Habitat, provided a profound exploration of the region's determined efforts to combat climate change. Post-event reflections shed light on the urgent need to address climate impacts, the imperative to amplify local voices, and the ongoing commitment to innovation and sustainability.

The urgency of climate action in Latin America and the Caribbean

At the forefront of Monsalve's insights is a stark acknowledgment of the region's vulnerability to climate change. Overseeing 16,000 municipalities across 33 countries, he underscores the critical role of COP28 in addressing the negative impacts faced by cities and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The interview revealed a pressing need for adaptation strategies to repair damages and build climate resilience.

Local voices in focus: A global platform for solutions

Monsalve passionately advocates for the amplification of local voices on the global climate stage. The interview highlighted COP28 as a pivotal platform, allowing not only national governments but also communities and local leaders to share their experiences. Monsalve stressed the importance of these local narratives in inspiring innovative solutions and fostering global collaboration.

Elkin Monsalve set the agenda with an impassioned remark: “In Latin America and the Caribbean, we are not just dealing with climate change; we are confronting its tangible impacts on our cities and communities. COP28 provided a vital platform for us to amplify local voices, exchange innovative solutions, and inspire a global commitment to accelerating the journey toward climate resilience."

The challenge of accelerating local solutions

A central theme of Monsalve's post-COP28 reflections revolves around the ongoing challenge of scaling up successful local models. As the Regional Director, he emphasizes the need for sustained efforts to exchange ideas, construct innovative solutions, and inspire local governments based on successful global models. Accelerating these solutions remains a key challenge for Monsalve and his team.

Closing the resource gap: Financing climate innovation

One of the interview's focal points was the persistent question from mayors in Latin America and the Caribbean – how to finance and mobilize resources for innovative climate actions. Monsalve sees global forums, like COP28, as essential spaces for facilitating exchanges on driving innovations and integrating impactful actions. The conversation centred around understanding the values necessary for effective integration and long-term sustainability.

Nature-based solutions: A game-changing partnership

A notable announcement during the interview was Monsalve's unveiling of a partnership with the Regional Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean. This groundbreaking collaboration establishes a green bank dedicated to supporting cities affected by climate change in developing nature-based solutions. 

The ongoing initiative includes an incubator for biodiversity projects, aligning with UN-Habitat's global vision of bridging the gap between urban life and ecosystems.

As we delve into Monsalve's COP28 interview, the narrative unfolds as a powerful testament to the region's dedication to navigating the frontlines of climate action, showcasing resilience, and steering the course toward a sustainable future for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Banner image: A view of Curitiba, Brazil [Pexels]