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Understanding potential economic impacts of climate change in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)


While all regions will eventually feel the effects of climate change, it will disproportionably affect developing countries, in particular poor communities that are already living at, or close to the margins of survival. While the impacts of climate change on development are already being addressed in some countries in Africa and the Pacific, the Latin America and Caribbean region is still in the initial stages of assessing economic impacts of climate change, with the contribution of ECLAC, while Brazil is developing its own approach with the support of cooperating agencies such as the IDB and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).  Presently ECLAC is participating in these efforts. In Latin America, vulnerability conditions have encouraged countries to join efforts to identify adaptation and mitigation measures to face climate change.

This project is consistent with the programme of ECLAC’s Division of Sustainable Development and Human Settlements (SDHSD), in Santiago, and the Sustainable Development Unit, in Port of Spain,   which seeks to address climate change through the promotion of alternative sources of energy, the identification of mitigation initiatives and adaptation needs, and the development of mechanisms to reduce climate change related disaster risk.  It complements ECLAC’s commitment in the conduct of disaster assessments that would inform reconstruction planning while mainstreaming it into national development planning. Specifically, the SDHSD has been actively involved in the support of policy development to further the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC.


The project will improve and harmonize the ability of Latin American and Caribbean countries to adapt and cope with the economic impacts of climate change on development. 

Expected Accomplishments:

  • Increased awareness in Latin American and Caribbean Governments, business communities and civil society of the economic impacts of climate change, as well as adaptation and mitigation options.

  • Strengthened national capacities to identify responses to the potential economic impacts of climate change

Implementation Status:

The Regional Studies of the Economics of Climate Change have motivated a change of perception among the governments in the region, as climate change is not longer seen as an environmental issue. The project achieved the active involvement of the Ministries of Environment and Treasury/Economy. Currently, climate change is considered a central topic for economic decisions and goes into the agenda of the Ministries of Energy, Agriculture, Finance and Foreign Affairs among others.
The completion of the studies of Chile and Uruguay has motivated the participation of the business community as well as NGO’s. The media coverage of these events allowed increasing the awareness of the adaptation and mitigation requirements on these countries.

Jamaica has sought the assistance of ECLAC in preparation of its climate change policy and in promoting the use of biofuels in the transport sector. Furthermore, the country has implemented the use of E10 in the transport sector and there is tremendous acceptance of this type of fuel since it is much cheaper than pure gasoline.

The results of the study on agriculture were used in preparation of a policy brief for FAO and this has been used in preparation of FAO’s Food and Nutrition Policy for the Caribbean. Information from these reports was also used to inform the draft climate change policy for the Caribbean as well as the draft energy policy for the Caribbean. The regional framework on climate resilience which included information presented in the policy brief was presented to the meeting of the CARICOM heads for approval on June 2011, while the food and nutrition policy for the Caribbean has been approved. The energy policy for the Caribbean was presented to the COTED (Energy) last year, where some changes were requested. It will be presented to COTED for endorsement this year.

Link: http://www.cepal.cl/erecc/pub_doc.html (spanish)