Latin American countries arrived at the annual summit on climate change, battered by a long crisis that has impoverished their populations, with the hope of making progress on an issue that is beginning to gain more space in the discussions: Debt swap for climate action.
A multitude of people from all over the world are walking the wide corridors of the Convention Center of Sharm el-Sheikh, a city on the shores of the Red Sea in the Egyptian Sinai desert, where the most visible features are the dozens of luxury hotels for vacationers from rich countries.
The negotiating rooms where technical officials discuss are overshadowed by a large number of pavilions, where countries and organizations seek to draw attention to their real and supposed climate achievements.
Where will the money come from to finance the gigantic transformations proposed to mitigate climate change and adapt to its impacts? This is the main question that hundreds of government delegates and representatives of organizations from Latin American nations came here to ask at this 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) on Climate Change, attended by 40,000 people, which opened on Sunday the 6th and will conclude on Friday the 18th.
"In the economic and fiscal situation we are going through, it is essential that the countries that have a strong climate commitment agree to some mechanism for forgiving foreign debt so that we can invest more forcefully," Colombian Environment Minister Susana Muhammad told IPS.
"We are taking this flag as our own. The Colombian government is making an enormous effort to halt deforestation in the strategic ecosystems and to begin restoring them with the communities, but for that we need certain resources," she added.
Muhammad signed on Monday 7 during the summit the renewal of the agreement with the British government, which will contribute $25 million for the conservation of forests in Colombia, and then commented that the scenario of inflation and devaluation of the local currency that many Latin American countries are experiencing makes it necessary to look for alternatives.
"We have already started discussions with organizations such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and we see openness to the issue. COP27 is a favorable environment to put the issue on the political agenda and to discuss it so that more countries join in," said the minister.
This is a summary. Read the full story in Spanish on the Inter Press Service website.
This story was produced as part of the 2022 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. It was first published in Spanish by Inter Press Service on 8 November and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Banner image: Scene from the opening of COP27, with the image on the screen of Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Stiell was born on the Caribbean island of Grenada, one of the regions most affected by climate change / Credit: United Nations.