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Colombian President calls for enhanced public-private climate action

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón called for urgent public-private sector cooperation in tackling climate change at the Green Climate Fund's first Structured Dialogue in Latin America.

"Both the public and private sectors should work together towards developing sustainable solutions that are relevant to each region," said President Santos during the Dialogue, which concludes today.

Stressing the need for action, he warned the onset of climate change means the life quality of human beings is at stake. "The more time we take to start acting, the more expensive those actions will be," he said.

"When talking about survival of species on the planet, borders don't matter, ideologies or nationalities don't matter; we human beings are all one species. What happens to one, happens to all, and that's why we need to work together. As I have said many times, our town is called the world and our race is called humanity."

GCF holds Structured Dialogues in different sectors of the world to share regional knowledge about how to use public investment to address climate change and stimulate private finance, as well as enhancing understanding of the Fund.

GCF Executive Director Howard Bamsey told about 170 participants attending the four-day Dialogue that GCF is committed to helping the Latin American region pursue low-emission and climate-resilient development.

"Although all countries are different, regional gatherings like this can deliver benefits from exchanges between countries about the many experiences, concerns, challenges and aspirations they share," said Mr Bamsey.

"With a diversity of financing instruments and support programmes, the GCF can match the geographic and economic diversity of the region and its resulting spectrum of climate change finance needs."

Mr Bamsey confirmed GCF has committed close to USD 736 million in climate finance for Latin America, which in turn represents nearly 2.7 billion in co-financing.

GCF's inaugural Structured Dialogue in Latin America has brought together representatives from 19 nations across the region, including government ministers from Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. 

During a high-level discussion panel, Lain American ministers and deputy ministers said people in the Spanish-speaking region not only use the same language, but share many of the same problems and challenges in the fight against climate change. They highlighted the need for climate finance projects that target individual country needs, while also identifying the important role of the Dialogue in promoting cross-cutting, multi-country and regional investments.

GCF Board member Ignacio Lorenzo emphasised GCF's vital role in helping Latin American countries "turn the paper of their NDCs into reality" while speaking on the sidelines of the Dialogue in reference to nations’ individual climate action plans under the Paris Agreement.

"While there is a huge geographic variety across the region from big to small countries and ranging from rainforest, to coastal and mountainous areas, the increasing climate impacts of floods and droughts are galvanising calls to action across the region," said Mr Lorenzo, the head of climate change in Uruguay's Ministry of Housing, Land Planning and Environment.

Discussions throughout the four days have explored a wide range of climate solutions, including the strengthening of REDD+, enhancing the role of the private sector in climate finance, and seeking innovative ways of incorporating low-carbon development in the region's rapidly expanding cities.

GCF will study the results of the Structured Dialogue to further refine its climate finance support at the national and regional levels across Latin America.